Arsenal are said to be trying to find new defenders. Why age could be an issue.

By Tony Attwood

You can’t read a transfer rumour about Arsenal without the issue of defenders coming up.   One is retiring, one is out injured for the rest of the year and one (or is that two?) are useless.  So we desperately need defenders by the shed load.

I’m not sure what the general opinion is, but I still like Rob Holding as a player and very much hope (and indeed expect) him to make it as a first team regular.

I also like the way Arsenal conducted themselves concerning the transfer.    From what I gather Holding was signed in 2016 for  £2.5 million with an extra payment of the same amount due depending on appearances etc.  However it seems that Bolton then asked Arsenal if they would renegotiate the fee to pay some of it earlier to help with Bolton’s cash position, balanced with a small reduction in the overall amount to be paid.  And Arsenal agreed.

Apparently Bolton have confirmed the situation with a spokesman for Bolton saying that the amendment to the contract was made possible because of the “excellent working relationship” between the two clubs.

This is an interesting alternative perspective to the normal talk from the media which tends to stress Arsenal’s incompetence at letting players slip through their fingers usually because they were  “too slow” or “refused to offer a realistic amount” for the player.

But it has always seemed to me, from the little I pick up, that rather than the story of general incompetence and dithering, Arsenal do tend to be known as a club one can do proper business with.  The tricks that some clubs like to play of going for a player with a high offer which is suddenly dropped at the last minute, are not Arsenal’s style.  Hence where there is a deal to be done, as in the case of Holding, selling clubs prefer to talk to Arsenal if they can.

The price for Arsenal went up, it is said, because Southgate (that’s the man not the part of London that the North Circular Road goes through) picked him for the England Under-21s at the Toulon Tournament in France and Euro Championships in Poland.

He has played 12 times for us – and was most notably included in the Cup Final a year ago and he looks to me to have been a real bargain.

And I mention all this because there is another such player who is available at the moment in Jonny Evans; not in terms of age but in terms of money.  Lots of players have relegation release clauses in their contracts which allow them to move on in the light of relegation for a modest fee – in this case again said to be just £3m.

As I say Evans of course is not a youngster like Holding but even so the rumour mongerers suggest that he could be of interest – although Manchester City are said to be poking their noses in as well.  But we do need someone, particularly as Koscielny will miss the first half of the season.  Other defenders being mentioned are Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund (age 29) and Caglar Soyuncu from Freiburg (age 21). Kalidou Koulibaly (age 26) is another player who gets listed when the bloggettas have not much else to write about.

And we have Calum Chambers who is 23.  I am really not sure what the future holds for him.   However I think we got a good deal with Konstantinos Mavropanos who is after all still only 20.  So maybe the issue is to have a few older heads around to help the youngsters settle into the side.  Nacho Monreal is 32 so clearly able to give us another one or maybe two seasons at the highest level, and I’d argue that he has been outperforming himself of late.  That’s one older head. 

Mustafi is 26 – but everyone says he ought to be sold, and if he is (and thus is not to be used as the other older player in the team) then we will need one solid newcomer who is experienced.  Jonny Evans is 30, and so it could be him.   Certainly balancing the ages could be a factor.   I know Tony Adams started to boss the Arsenal back four before he could walk, but such combinations of personality and on the pitch skill are rare. 

If we find a youngster who can do an Adams, all well and good, but otherwise, age could be a significant issue.


From the Arsenal History Society





8 Replies to “Arsenal are said to be trying to find new defenders. Why age could be an issue.”

  1. I think you are correct we need to bring in one old head to balance the side if we are getting rid of Mustafi. I don’t know why he has been poor but maybe partnered with someone other than Kos he may perform better, CB’s are all about combinations and mertesacker and Kos seemed to really work but Kos/Mustafi hasn’t.

    Chambers and Evans maybe to start the season? A good CDM would help I like Granit, who gets a bit of unfair stick but I see him as more box to box than true DM

  2. At the start of this season, I preferred AW to play Rob Holding in the Premier League alongside Mustafi to get the bond and experience since he is suppose to be one of the main CB in the future. I prefer Kos with his injury to have played in the Europa League as it’s less demanding.

    I don’t mind seeing Chambers and Holding as CBs for the domestic cup games to see if they gel, both are best friends so should have a better understanding and communication with each other.

    I think the current defensive players will make less mistakes in the new season because they probably will concentrate more on clearing the ball than try to keep possession of the ball and play out. AW doesn’t like the players to boot the ball up field and want the players to play out from the back, it’s something he want them to learn and do, hence why they make a lot of mistakes when under pressure.

    If Arteta become the next Arsenal manager, and allow the forward players to play with freedom like under AW and the midfielders and defenders to press like under Pep, it could be an amazing next season.

  3. All things being equal, the current Arsenal senior defenfers who should be available for selection to play on the opening day of next season’s campaign should in my own view be: Bellerin, Holdings Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles and Kostantinos. But Bellerin and Kolasinac play mostly as wing backs among the 8 defenders who I’ve listed above.

    However, despite these senior 8 defenders in the rank of the Gunners first team squad who are looking will be at Arsenal when the new season kickoff in August, the believes in some football expert quarters is that Arsenal FC will need to do 1 top grade CB signing this summer as replacement for the injured Koscielny who is not expected to play for Arsenal next season until after he has fully recovered from the injury sideline and that could be up to half a season. So, all in all Arsenal will look to start next season’s campaign with 8 specialist defenders in place.

    But who is the additional defender that Arsenal should sign this summer? I think if Arsenal should want to sign Kalidou Koulibaly, then they’ll have to sell one their current 8 defenders in the summer to recoup at least part of the big money they’ll use to sign Kalidou. And regrettably, the onus to sell could fall on Mustafi for his panicking, slippering and misplaced passes in the heart of Arsenal defence-line. But Mustafi has pace. And if Arsenal decided to sign Jonny Evans this summer, they may still want to offload a defender from the 8 already on ground at the club to accommodate Evans and also to balance the team as they may not want to have more than 8 defenders at a time.

    2 goalkeepers, 8 defenders, 3 DMs, 7 midfielders and 3 strikers all seniors and 2 youths promoted to the senior team squad to adequately cover all positions in the squad but should be of top quality kinds will make a total of 25 senior Gunners team and the team will balance up for the first half of the new season’s campaign. But it all depends on what the new AFC manager thinks and wants.

  4. With footfall like Mothercare. Untold going into administration. Must be worth an Arsene t shirt.

  5. When it comes to our defence, my favourite defender from our crop of defenders is Chambers. I still have high hopes about him as I’m anxious to see how will he perform after stronger defensive coaching. Holding is just one step behind him and same goes for our Colossus Mavropanos.

    Holding’s main problem was the fact our fan-base has a lot of inpatient idiots. Holding was better than Cannavaro at the end of the last season, as they sung, only to become a crap in their eyes after a few poor performances this season. Chambers, Mavropanos and Holding are the future of the club, hopefully the bright one.

    As for Koscielny, sadly, his best days are past him and I don’t see him ever returning to the central role he has had for years. He has been such a great servant to the club, one of true gems Arsene had discovered, and my biggest wish – as someone who has ankle problems as well – for Kos is a good health so he can enjoy time with his family.

    As for Mustafi, he is way too inconsistent. For a 35 million defender, I expect him to be far more reliable and less engaged in stupid diving tackles that haven’t been the Arsenal way of defending since Per and Kos had been in charge of defending. I expect him either to be sold next summer (which won’t be helped by the fact he is not part of the German setup in Russia) or to get a strong talk from the new manager and his staff. He is quick, strong with good jumping but it means nothing if he loses positional awareness over the course of the game as often as he did last season.

    All-in-all, our defence didn’t have anything last season that the best defensive formations should have: consistency in personnel (take a look at strongest Chelsea defensive line-ups and you’ll notice Terry and Azpilicueta playing almost all minutes), a reliable goalkeeper, a strong defensive drill at trainings and support from the advanced lines of the team. We had too many different defensive line-ups, with three or four players, last season, we had Čech who committed more errors leading to goals than any other keeper, midfielders who didn’t help the defence enough and, judging by all those factors, the trainings weren’t good enough either.

    (P.S. I’m not big fan of Sokratis Papasthathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund. I’d rather sign Koulibaly than either of the Bundesliga defenders we have been connected with or stick with our three bright prospects led by an experienced player like Evans or disciplined Mustafi.)

  6. I suspect that too many times our back 4 chopped and changed, frequently to protect Kos from playing too many games.

    Lack of a fixed back 4 hampered us, especially in all those away losses, in a lot of which the back 4 was sacrificed for the cup games.

  7. I like to think that our present crop of defenders as being good enough , provided they are coached and blend and combine well as a unit. And would like them to not cross the halfway line or all of them go for the set pieces in the opposition box.

    A speedy shielding defensive midfielder ,to firmly keep the back door closed. Please leave the kitchen sink in the kitchen !

  8. Otamendi was shit, then Pep came and he’s the best now in the league, with also what we heard, Arteta was involved in one on one coaching with the Man city players, so if Mustafi can benefit from Arteta’s coaching (going by reports he’s soon to be announced), then Mustafi could turn out to be a very good CB

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