Arsenal transfers: Five centre-halves Arsene Wenger should target
Ned Bristow takes a look at five centre-halves Arsenal could sign before the end of the summer transfer window
German World Cup winner Benedikt Howedes is reportedly keen to ply his trade in the Premier League, and has been heavily linked with Arsenal as well as Manchester United and Spurs over the past 12 months. The 27-year-old is a brilliant reader of the game who gives forwards no space to breathe on the ball, and could be lured to The Emirates by the promise of Champions League football after Schalke missed out on qualification. The club would listen to offers of around £15m as a result of their shortcomings as well as the 6ft 2ins centre-back’s ambitions.
Did you know? Howedes has been at Schalke since 2001, and played every single minute of Germany’s World Cup winning campaign in Brazil last year.
Virgil van Dijk
Celtic insist they do not need – or want – to sell one of their key men as they look ahead to another Champions League campaign, but Dutchman Virgilvan Dijk appears to be desperate for a chance to shine in England. Capped three times by the Netherlands at Under-21 level, the 24-year-old is said to want a move south of the border in an attempt to force himself onto the international scene, as well as wishing to test himself in a more competitive league. Tall and well-built, Van Dijk also possesses a deceptive turn of pace and good ball skills that make him exactly the kind of centre-half Premier League clubs are after.
Did you know? Despite being a defender, van Dijk has a Scottish Goal of the Month nomination to his name, and also won Celtic’s Players’ Player of the Year award in his first season at the club.
The 21-year-old has already amassed over 100 appearances in French football for Lyon, and his much sought-after balance of youth and experience could set him up as a perfect long-term partner for either Callum Chambers or Gabriel Paulista in the heart of defence. A good reader of the game who rarely takes risks, the highly rated defender made his professional debut in January 2012 after joining the Ligue 1 runners-up as an eight-year-old, and is capped by France at youth-level.
Did you know? Umtiti can play in the centre of defence or as a left back, and represented Cameroon under-17s before switching to France from under-18 level onwards.
With the Ukrainian league already underway, the Gunners would have to move quickly to get deep-lying stopper Dragovic on board as links with Everton and West Ham United continue to linger. Competition for his signature could force any potential fee towards the £8m mark but, at just 24 years old, the vastly experienced Austrian international could prove a shrewd piece of business as Arsenal look to mount a title charge with what many are calling the best Gunners squad since the ‘Invincibles’ of 2004.
Did you know? Dragovic has eight major domestic honours to his name since making his first team debut in 2008.
The Northern Irishman has failed to cement his place in United’s XI since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013, and is clearly surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. Reports say he could be offered as a counterweight in Louis van Gaal’s bid for Everton man John Stones, but Evans could become a target for Wenger should Stones opt for Chelsea instead. At 27-years-old Evans has made almost 300 career appearances, and would be eager to prove himself and reignite his faltering career with a run as a ball-playing centre-half in the Arsenal defence.
Did you know? Evans finished school with 9 GCSEs at A* or A level, and married MUTV reporter Helen McConnell in 2013.