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Which defenders should Arsenal move on this summer?

| 20.08.2020

They’ve got plenty of options at the back

It’s no surprise that Arsenal are looking at defensive reinforcements this summer, with the club understood to be closing in on Lille’s Gabriel Magalhaes.

The Gunners were let down by costly errors at the back too often last term. If they’re going to return to the Champions League, they’ll need to tighten up. We’ve got them at 3/1 to finish in the top four.

The problem wasn’t a lack of defenders, but a shortage of convincing options. Should Gabriel arrive, Mikel Arteta would have eight centre-backs to choose from in the first-team squad.

With improvement still needed in other areas, it could be time for a clear-out. We’ve looked at who should stay and who could be surplus to requirements.

William Saliba

One player who won’t be going anywhere in the near future. Arsenal have big hopes for the young defender, having paid £27m to sign him last summer. Saliba spent the year on loan at St. Etienne as part of the deal, and he’s likely to be phased into the side by Arteta.

Comfortable on the ball, good in the air and with a physical presence, the Gunners will hope he can be a mainstay at the back for years to come.

Verdict: Keep

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Sokratis barely featured after the restart, only making two brief substitute appearances in the FA Cup.

He brings plenty of experience, but he’s an awkward fit in Arteta’s possession-based approach. With Napoli understood to be interested, it’d make sense to get his wages off the books and clear a path for younger options.

Verdict: Sell

David Luiz

David Luiz

Having signed a one-year contract extension recently, David Luiz is set to remain at the club too. Arteta has seen the best and the worst of the enigmatic Brazilian during his short time at the club.

The manager will hope Luiz’s excellent displays in the FA Cup semi-final and final are a sign of things to come, rather than his disastrous performance in the away defeat to Manchester City.

The 33-year-old has often been praised for his influence behind the scenes, so he could play a useful role in helping Saliba, and potentially Magalhaes, to develop.

Verdict: Keep until the end of his contract

Pablo Mari

It’s hard to know what to make of Pablo Mari at this stage. The January arrival was brought in as a left-footed centre-back to help with building play, but he suffered a serious ankle injury in his third appearance for the club.

Despite his lack of action, the club have seen enough to turn his loan deal into a permanent signing this summer.

When he’s fit again, Mari could rotate with Gabriel as the left-sided centre-back in a back four, or play on the left of a back three.

Verdict: Keep

Shkodran Mustafi

Shkodran Mustafi

The much-maligned Shkodran Mustafi raised his game after Arteta came in. He was arguably the team’s best defender until a hamstring injury ended his season early – which is an indictment of his teammates.

While he undoubtedly improved, he was still prone to rash decisions when things weren’t going to plan.

The World Cup winner’s injury means it may be difficult to find a buyer this summer, so he could remain as a squad player for now.

Verdict: Sell if possible

Rob Holding and Calum Chambers

Next season, Arsenal are set to have Saliba, Luiz, Mari and potentially Gabriel as options in the middle of defence. Mustafi could remain as a squad player too, while Kieran Tierney can fill in if needed.

With that many options, are Rob Holding and Calum Chambers still needed? At 24 and 25-years-old respectively, they’re not young prospects anymore – they’re expected to perform now.

They’re both decent players, but they aren’t indispensable. The duo would also command a homegrown premium, which means the North Londoners may reluctantly be open to selling to raise funds.

Verdict: Sell if you get a good offer

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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication



Daniel Anwar

Daniel has written about sport for Coral, Squawka, FourFourTwo and the Premier League, among others.