Clearly, Arsenal’s defence is an area in need of massive improvement this summer after they shipped 51 Premier League goals last season (only Manchester United conceded more in the top six), and it looks like Unai Emery is doing what he can, with ESPN claiming last week that the club are set to win the race for William Saliba.
Whether or not Emery will be content with just one new defender is not yet known, though, and The Sun claimed that Arsenal have made an enquiry for Harry Maguire but are set to be blown away after claiming they won’t pay more than £50m for the Leicester man.
This news comes just one day after Sky Sports reported Leicester had knocked back Manchester United’s £70m offer for the defender and on the same day that Manchester City have agreed to match United’s bid for the England international.
It makes no sense that Arsenal would go in and question Leicester over a Maguire move. It’s been well documented that the Gunners have just £45m to spend this summer (Daily Mail), so blowing all of that and then another £5m in a bid that falls £35m short of Leicester’s valuation of the player is ludicrous.
The Gunners would do well to stick to their move for Saliba. The Mirror’s scout report on him last month described him as a modern defender comfortable on the ball and a hard athlete to beat stride for stride due to his physical frame, with the defender averaging 2 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per 90 mins according to WhoScored.
Furthermore, a recent report on Unai Emery’s pursuit of the player has come through French journalist Nabil Djellit, who’s claimed that Denis Bouanga is close to signing for St. Etienne and that Saliba to Arsenal is still going, although there are some pitfalls to overcome.
If Emery does want to bring in Saliba, along with any other targets, then considering his apparent budget, he may well have to generate some funds of his own. That means selling those who are below par at the Emirates and are getting on in age, and Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny are in the firing line.
Mustafi has made 3 errors leading to goals (per the Premier League’s official site) since joining the North London giants and was labelled a ‘mess’ by Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports, via the Daily Mirror back in April. Koscielny, meanwhile, is 33 and surely coming towards the end of his career at the highest level.
Between them, the centre-back pairing once dubbed ‘Kostafi’ by an article in The Telegraph after the pair struck up a partnership in the 2016/17 season, are costing their club £180,000 per/week (Spotrac), and moving them on looks like the smartest move from here.
It’s been reported by L’Equipe that Koscielny wants to leave the club and sign for Bordeaux in Ligue 1, who have in turn made him their number one priority this summer, although the Gunners are holding out for £10m for their captain.
Mustafi also reportedly wanted to leave the club, which David Ornstein confirmed when speaking to BBC 5 Live Sport last week when he claimed that the Gunners have tried to sell Mustafi in ‘pretty much every window since they signed him’.
So, while the central defensive area is clearly one of the features of Arsenal’s summer, it appears they have deals to sort out in terms of players already on the books as well as Saliba, making such a comparatively low bid for Maguire pointless.
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