Arsenal’s plans to sign a centre half have inevitably seen players in that position linked to the club. Reports in the press have linked Arsenal to the Southampton and Croatian defender Dejan Lovren.
The 24 year old centre defender had a stellar season for Southampton last season. The Croatian defender was reported to have put in a transfer request at the end of last season. Nothing has come out of that as yet. Whether Southampton who has lost Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw to Liverpool and Manchester United in the last few days would be open to a transfer remains to be seen.
The potential signing of the Croatian will leave the position of Thomas Vermaelen even more precarious. But whether a defender who has been used to playing first team football with both Southampton and Croatia will choose to come over to a club with an established partnership in Per Mertasacker and Laurent Koscielny remains to be seen. However, the likelihood of joining a top club, and playing Champions League football could be a motivation for wanting to join.
There have been calls for the club to abstain from the path of going with just three centre halves as it did last season. Though, the question is which player would countenance coming in to be the third-fourth centre half in the club. In the past, young defenders have been used to cover for the fourth centre half position in the squad, ditto Johan Djourou when he was a teenager behind the partnerhips of Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Martin Keone. Though, Bacary Sagna was the fourth centre half last season, the club no doubt got away with playing with just three natural centre halves last season due to the lack of long term injuries in that position. However, it is unlikely whether the club will get away with it this coming season hence signing another centre back makes a lot of sense.
Thomas Vermaelen’s playing time last season was curtailed by both the partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny, but it must also be said that he was out several times due to injury. Although, at 28 going on 29, it represents a key age for a defender as they come into their peak years at that time. But, will the potential signing of the Lovren mean the departure of Arsenal’s captain? At 24 he represents a younger option to all of the centre halves at the club, which means he is bound to break into the team in few years.
Southampton has banked £59 million pounds from the sales of Shaw, Lallana and Ricky Lambert. It is in doubt whether a club rich in cash after such sales will consider selling a key player within it defensive unit.
Though, a lot will depend on whether he is part of Ronald Koeman’s plans. But getting in the Croatian defender will represent good business for Arsenal as it will be getting a young player who is has top level experience in the Premier League.