Three defenders Arsenal could sign in the summer transfer window

Paul McNamara examines three potential targets for Arsenal to strengthen their defensive options this summer

By Paul McNamara

Martin Skrtel

The Slovakian’s impending Anfield departure is as baffling as it is inevitable. He might not necessarily catch the eye, but Skrtel is far and away the best defender currently at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal. That might not be the greatest compliment given the paucity of quality options Liverpool boast in this area of the pitch, but an on form Skrtel still presents a formidable barrier for opposing forwards. The Gunners are crying out for a figure at the heart of their back-four who lists defending as his number one attribute. Arsenal need a stopper prepared to put his body on the line in order to guard against the type of hapless off days that have come to blight their progress for the best part of a Arsene Wenger went against his natural tendencies last summer by signing a 33-year-old Petr Cech to solve his team’s enduring goalkeeping problems. The Frenchman could do far worse than adding another thirty-something, in Skrtel, to his ranks. Come August, Wenger could be embarking on his final year at the Emirates. If he believes Liverpool’s centre back could help him sign off with a first Premier League title since 2004 then the Arsenal boss should go out and get him.

Leonardo Bonucci

Another defender not in the first flush of youth, but Bonucci’s pedigree cannot The Italian is an integral member of the miserly Juventus rearguard on which the Turin club’s five Serie A titles in the past five years has been founded. Luring the 29-year-old away from Juve, where last year he was a Champions League finalist, would not be easy. But long gone are the days when Italian clubs held sway over their English The advent of the Premier League’s monstrous television deal for the three seasons from 2016 gives the whip hand to clubs from this country when they enter into transfer negotiations with a majority Of course, the player would have to be malleable to a move to the English capital, but the prospect of a fresh challenge, with another of Europe’s most revered clubs – not to mention a generous salary – could persuade Bonucci to add some precious steel to the Gunners’ back four. Arsenal would need to move swiftly, however, with Bonucci’s former club and current international boss Antonio Conte set to take charge at Chelsea, and sure to move for the shrewd centre half.

Virgil van Dijk

Southampton would be loath to lose their towering Dutch defender less than a year after signing him from Celtic. The four-time capped international quickly overcame a shaky start to life in England to excel for Ronald Koeman’s upwardly mobile team. In particular, the 24-year-old shone as Saints recorded six successive clean sheets early in 2016, and again as Koeman’s side concluded the campaign with four wins on the bounce. The St Mary’s club would demand a chunky profit on the £13m they paid the Scottish champions for Van Dijk, who is equally comfortable operating as one half of a central defensive pair or as part of a In return for what would be a hefty price, Arsenal would get a player who has ironed out of his game some of the kinks he brought with him from north of the border, and who could be a fixture at the Emirates for some years to come.

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