The January transfer window is open and there's a pressing need for Arsenal to make amends for their failures in the market last summer. Going into the window last summer they needed a central defender and a defensive midfielder, but neither had been signed when it closed early in the season. There were arrivals of course and Alexis Sanchez was the most high profile of these and has proved to be a huge success too.
Both Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen left the club though with Carl Jenkinson loaned out to West Ham for the season as Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers were signed. Debuchy was a direct replacement for Sagna and Chambers is a young right back who it was hoped could gradually be converted to a central defender or even the fabled defensive midfielder every club seems to need so badly. For Chambers to be given a chance to progress the club needed another signing in both of those positions, but they failed to materialise.
Arsene Wenger even told us Vermaelen would be replaced, but it didn't happen and the team has suffered as a result. The recurring injury to Laurent Koscielny has robbed the team of it's best defender with a long list of full backs having to play in the centre when he has been out. For a team with Arsenal's consistent injury woes to start the season with only two recognised centre backs just wasn't good enough. It hardly matters that Vermaelen hasn't kicked a ball for Barcelona and won't this season due to injury.
The Premier League is out of Arsenal's reach at this stage and they have a fight on their hands to finish in the top four. There's still the defence of the FA Cup to think about though and the small matter of the knock out stages of the Champions League with Monsco on the horizon next month. If the team are going to give themselves the best chance of that top four finish and acquit themselves well in the cup competitions they need to strengthen while they have the chance.
There are players out there who might fit their needs and who could be available this month if Arsenal test the resolve of their clubs. It's never easy to pry players away from their clubs in January with the season at it's midway point, but Arsenal's need is great and they have to try. With that in mind I'll take a look at five central defenders the club have been linked with and give my take on their abilities and Arsenal's chances of signing them too.
Ron Vlaar impressed at the World Cup in a Dutch side which reached the semi finals and has looked good in the centre of Aston Villa's defence. His contract is up in the summer which could mean he is available at a good price as he can leave on a free transfer in the summer. He has plenty of Premier League experience already and would be ready made to step straight into the team if needed.
He will be 30 next month though and for a player of his age he hasn't got too many appearances to his name. He might fit right in at Arsenal though as he has had a series of injuries which have prevented him playing at two times this season and far too often over his career. His price would make him a favourable choice because there is such a short time left on his contract, but I think Arsenal can do without an injury prone defender who will turn 30 next month.
Winston Reid is another defender whose contract expires at the end of the season and who might be available at a very good price at the moment. Like Vlaar he has plenty of Premier League experience and at 26 he still has a fair few years left to play the game too. He has impressed with West Ham and while he might not be the World class central defender we all crave he would be a good addition to the squad.
If Arsenal are interested in him they won't be the only ones chasing him and I imagine the first bid for him could start a bit of a bidding war. West Ham are resigned to losing him in the summer on a free transfer and could be convinced to cut their losses if the right offer comes along. The player might want to wait until his contract is up to get a better deal, but the thought of joining a top club and playing in the Champions League has to be a draw for any player. I would be surprised if Arsenal made a move for Reid, but he is a player who could possibly do well if he joined them.
Sergio Ramos has won just about everything you can win in football and he's still only 28. His contract dispute with Real Madrid has been common knowledge for a while now and he has been linked with a move to Arsenal among other clubs. He's a very good defender who gets forward and gets his fair shower of goals too, but he's also very fond of collecting red cards.
He still has two and a half years left on his contract though and I can only imagine Madrid would want a fortune for him if they could be convinced to sell. I suspect the rumours of conflict are only to help him obtain a better contract and I would be shocked if Madrid actually sold him. He's a very good player but I don't know how well he would fit in at Arsenal if he was to prove me wrong which I doubt very much.
Loic Perrin is a 29 year old central defender who plays in France for St. Etienne. He looks to be pretty good, but he hasn't exactly set the world alight up to now. The player has said he has had contact from Arsenal and it looks like the club could be genuinely interested in signing him.
He ticks a lot of boxes for Arsene Wenger as he's French and looks like he wants to join the club, but it's not easy to tell if he's up to the job. I wouldn't be surprised if Arsenal were to sign Perrin, but he will take some time to settle in to the Premier League if he does join. He doesn't look like the ideal choice to me, but it's not easy to find anyone to sign in January.
Mats Hummels plys his trade for Borussia Dortmund and he has shown himself to be a very good defender for both club and country. There is a lot of interest in him from a host of clubs and Arsenal would have to spend big to have any chance of signing him. Dortmund have cashed in on many players over the last few seasons and the right bid could well tempt them to sell Hummels.
They're currently in the relegation zone in the German league at the halfway stage and the money from the sale of Hummels could give them funds to invest elsewhere in the team. Then again they could probably do with keeping a defender like Hummels in the team if they're make sure they don't get relegated. I would like to see Hummels in the Arsenal team, but I would be very surprised if Dortmund sold him and even more surprised if he joined Arsenal.
Of course Koscielny is back in the team again and he could even have put his injury problems behind him if we're very lucky. With two fit central defenders and some full backs who can fill in if needed what's the rush in Arsenal splashing out on another central defender. Koscielny is almost "like a new signing" and the chances are the club will be happy enough with what they have for the rest of the season.
I hope I'm wrong and they actively pursue the players that are needed to strengthen the team this month, but I'm not sure how much of a priority it is. If a central defender isn't brought in I think the team will suffer and with that us fans will suffer too. It won't be easy to get the right player, but I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that they do.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.