Leaky Arsenal seeking Alderweireld experience
Arsene Wenger, whose Arsenal side are 13/2 to lift the Premier League, is reported to have Atletico Madrid and Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld registering on his radar.
Alderweireld, 25, is currently plying his trade for the La Liga champions, but has found himself on the fringes of Diego Simeone’s plans. The adaptable Atleti man only made 12 league appearances last term, and could even be available on a season-long loan.
This may make him an attractive proposition for Gunners boss Wenger, who has also been linked with an interest in Greece and Olympiakos defender Kostas Manolas and a big-money move for Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels.
Considering his apparent availability, Alderweireld, who has 37 caps for Belgium and made 168 appearances for Ajax, could be an ideal fix for Arsenal’s backline issues.
The Gunners have conceded three goals in their opening two Premier League games and, despite illustrating a new-found fighting spirit to claw themselves back into those clashes, Wenger will be worried by a porous rearguard.
Arsenal have already identified the need to bolster their backline, in a summer transfer window that has thrilled fans, following the signings of Chile star Alexis Sanchez, Colombia Keeper David Ospina, France right back Mathieu Debuchy and Southampton youngster Calum Chambers.
It finally appears that several seasons of relative frugality have paid off, and that Wenger is now addressing the long-criticised weak spots in his squad.
After offloading former skipper Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona and Johan Djourou to Hamburg, with Carl Jenkinson also exiting the Emirates for a loan spell with West Ham United, the Gunners need to add to a now depleted defence.
Despite not being a regular starter in his last season at the club, Vermaelen provided adaptability and experience in spades, two qualities Arsenal could do with at the moment.
Needing to re-establish himself after a season in the wilderness, falling behind Diego Godin and Miranda in the pecking order, ex-Ajax star Alderweireld could find his versatility a great asset in the Premier League.
Able to be deployed comfortably at either centre half or right back, where he operated for his country during the World Cup, Alderweireld would be an excellent replacement for compatriot Vermaelen.
It appears 19-year-old Chambers, able to operate as a full back, midfield anchor or in the heart of defence, may not yet be ready to plug the gaps for the Gunners. Following a promising start to the season, the youngster understandably faltered away to Everton, against the pace and strength of a forward line including Romelu Lukaku.
The former Saints starlet was culpable, along with Per Mertesacker, for the Toffees’ second goal and, whilst it would be churlish to blame the teenager for his inexperience, it highlights Wenger’s need for reinforcements.
Arsenal shipped 41 goals in the Premier League last term and, at 7/4 to finish outside the top four, the north Londoners must not leave themselves exposed, in what is set to be one of the most competitive campaigns yet.