His bed is still warm, the soil on his grave not yet settled, but football is fast moving and with the season starting in 7 days and the transfer window closing in 22 days, the need to replace Thomas Vermaelen is immediate and necessary.
At last weekend’s Emirate’s Cup, Arsene Wenger was quoted as saying Arsenal will definitely buy one more player, maybe even two. It was widely agreed upon that the ‘definite one’ was a defensive midfielder. The ‘maybe two’ was a replacement for Thomas Vermaelen, were he to leave. And he has.
So who are Vermaelen’s 5 potential replacements?
Already been heavily linked with Manchester United this summer, the German international has it all. He is tall, strong, quick, brilliant game reading and good on the ball. He is on the way to becoming one of the best centre backs in the World.
At the World Cup, he ended up forcing Per Mertesacker out of the team. And that in there lies the problem. Would he be happy sitting on our bench? NO. Would Wenger buy him to replace Koscielny or Mertesacker? No.
The only way he would come in is if Wenger was planning to rotate his centre backs. That Hummels was coming in as a 3rd first choice centre back, not a 3rd choice centre back.
He would be a brilliant acquisition, but would mean a lot of squad management.
We have already been linked with William Carvahlo as defensive midfielder. Whilst I (like most others) have never seen him play, he looks brilliant on youtube videos. Actually, I have only seen him in one, that one where he cleans out two players in one tackle. But lets be honest, that’s all many of us know about him.
Reports are that he can also play at centre back. Now whether these reports are true, as no one has ever seen him play, remain to be seen, but if he does, it will give us an option. He becomes first choice defensive midfielder, and then acts as cover at centre back with either Mathieu Flamini or Mikel Arteta coming in to replace him in the middle of the park.
Of course, he could also be 4th choice centre back, with Calum Chambers coming in at first choice replacement, and him remaining in the midfield.
The problem with it is that we would have 2 utility players covering defensive positions. Chambers is currently 2nd choice right back and 4th choice centre back. Carvahlo will be 1st choice defensive midfielder, 3rd choice centre back. It would essentially leave us with just 6 defenders. Things could look different if we went and bought Khedira and Caravhalo however.
I have long been a fan of the young Swiss centre back for over a year, having seen him impress against both Tottenham and Chelsea as a 21 year old in the Europa League. Whilst he played at right back in both match’s, he showed the strength and composure to indicate he would become a very good centre back.
Since then, he has established himself in the Basel first team at centre back. At 22, and currently playing in Switzerland, he would certainly see a move to Arsenal as a step up in his footballing career, even if it is as 3rd choice centre back.
I was surprised that he did not play more at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as Switzerland favoured Johan Djourou and Steve Von Bergen. He replaced the later when von Bergan has his cheekbone fractured in a challenge with Olivier Giroud. In the two games he did play, Switzerland kept a clean sheet against Honduras and lost 1-0 to Argentina. Schar was impressive.
Fabain Schar ticks a lot of boxes. He is good enough to be 3rd choice, at the right stage of his career to be happy as 3rd choice, and young and talented enough to be 1st choice at some point in the future.
Manchester City centre back Matija Nastasic broke into their first team in the 2012/13 season, later to be named young player of the season. Since then, he has fallen behind Martin Demichellis, partly due to injury, partly due to Demichellis being a Pellegrini favourite.
With Manchester City set to announce Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala next week, it will see Nastasic relegated to 4th choice centre back. Add in the signing of Bacary Sagna, and Micah Richards unlikely to be sold due to ‘home grown’ reasons, it leaves Nastasic surplus to requirements.
Still just 21 years old, he already has a world of experience, having played 26 times in Serie A and 34 in the Premier League. Whilst he might not be happy being 3rd choice centre back at Arsenal, it is a proposition which is much better than being completely frozen out at Manchester City, for no fault of his own.
At his young age, he has his career ahead of him. He will get enough games at Arsenal, and a fair chance to challenge Mertersacker and Koscielny to be first choice, a fair chance he will never be given at Manchester City. He would be a realistic signing and, similar in the Debuchy signing, would be someone already adapted to the Premier League.
The Norwegian international has fallen out of favour at Liverpool. Last season he was named as Liverpool vice-captain, and quickly found himself behind Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure. Liverpool have since spent £20 million on Dejan Lovren from Southampton and £8 million on 21 year old Tiago Ilori from Sporting. Add in the returning Sebastian Coates from injury, Liverpool have an abundance of centre backs. This leaves Daniel Agger on the brink of leaving.
If we are looking for a straight replacement for Thomas Vermaelen, he is the man. 29 years old, slightly injury prone, tons of Premier League experience. Agger has paid 232 games for Liverpool, he would take no time to settle. The only downside is he has YNWA tattoo’d on his knuckles.
My choice? Schar if we are looking long term, Agger if we are looking short.