Arsenal need to address the right back situation in the summer.
With Hector Bellerin’s injury, Stephan Lichtsteiner demise, Ainsley Maitland-Niles not really stepping up & Carl Jenkinson’s contract set to run out, we could be starting 2019/20 without a recognised right back.
So what are Arsenal’s options?
Sign an established right back
The first option would for Arsenal to spend big and go for an established right back.
The fear could be for Arsenal that is Bellerin is out for the start of the season, signing a raw talent or promoting someone from the youth team could leave the side weak on the right hand side. After an injury like what Bellerin had, the odds are high that he might break down again.
Arsenal should therefore target top-flight proven right back. Someone who could come in and not just provide cover for Bellerin, but also competition to him.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the man that springs to mind for this role.
The Crystal Palace right back might be raw, but is not as raw as other candidates we will speak about later. At 21-years-old, he would have a season of top flight Premier League football under his belt and is currently pushing for an England place.
He would cost a lot of money, but if he fulfils his potential he could become even better than Bellerin.
A cheaper option could be long term Arsenal target Ferland Mendy. I imagine there are plenty of other similar talents on the clubs radar.
Sign a raw talent
A cheaper option than signing an established right back is to go for a raw talent.
Over at GunnersTown there is a brilliant scouting report on Houboulang Mendes. He is a 20-year-old Frenchman currently playing in Ligue 2. He has all the natural attributes to be an Arsenal right back, but sound like a very unpolished diamond.
There is also Max Aarons at Norwich. Another who comes with a high reputation but only has a year of Championship football under his belt.
The issue with these sort of players is they might not yet be ready for the Premier League. And if Bellerin is not fit and ready to go at the beginning of next season, they could be exposed and lose confidence before they have even started.
My feeling would be if we signed Aarons or Mendes we would want to put them out on loan for a year. This does not solve our immediate problem.
Promote Jordi Osei-Tutu
If we are going to sign a raw talent, why not promote one of our own?
Jordi Osei-Tutu may well have had a chance in the Arsenal first team this season had he not picked up an early season injury ruling him out for the first quarter of the season.
He would likely have got game time in the Europa League and League Cup had he been fit.
Like with Aarons and Mendes, it would be a huge risk to install Osei-Tutu as Bellerin’s back up. The better options, as with the other 2, would be to send him on loan for a season.
Moving for the likes of Mendes or Aarons; or promoting Osei-Tutu could be a good budget option in the long term, but it would require someone else to be signed in the short term to cover the next 12 months.
Keep Carl Jenkinson
One short term option could be to keep what we have in Carl Jenkinson.
His contract runs out at the end of this season. We could offer him a new 2 year deal on his currently salary – rumoured to be around £45,000 a week. He would then provide short term cover for Bellerin over the next 12 months, whilst his long term cover (Mendes, Aarons or Osei-Tutu) gets top flight experience out on loan.
Buy Lichtsteiner MK II
The deal for Stephan Lichtsteiner did make sense.
Experienced short term cover for Hector Bellerin allowing us another 12 months to develop either Ainsley-Maitland Niles or Jordi Osei-Tutu.
Unfortunately Maitland-Niles has not kicked on and Osei-Tutu picked up an injury. This leaves us in a similar situation last year.
If Unai Emery decides that he wants to go for a raw talent and that Jenkinson is not sufficient short-term cover, scouring the world for a senior right back whose contract has expired could be an option.
Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran seems best to suit this bill.
Experienced and Spanish, he is set to leave Atletico in the summer on a free transfer. Would a one-year deal in the Premier League interest him? Perhaps if we offer him similar money to Lichtsteiner.
It would then be a similar scenario to keeping Jenkinson.
Arsenal get in the experienced man to cover Bellerin whilst they develop a raw talent who spends a year out on loan.