Arsenal have been heavily linked with Barcelona central defender Samuel Umtiti in recent weeks. At the moment it feels a bit like the media are putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5.
Umtiti has dropped to 3rd choice centre back for the Spanish giants this season, although this has more to do with a troublesome knee injury than anything else.
Since regaining fitness, Umtiti has found himself behind Gerard Pique and compatriot Clement Lenglet.
With Barcelona chasing Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, the talk is Barcelona will need to cash in on one of their other 3 defenders to accommodate him.
It is unlikely they will sell Gerard Pique, and the experienced campaigner would unlikely command a high transfer fee. That leaves Umtiti and Lenglet.
Umtiti would command a bigger transfer fee than Lenglet, and would also likely be less happy to sit on the bench behind de Ligt and Pique. All this in the mixing pot has led to the rumours that Umtiti will be off this summer.
The two clubs he has been linked with are Arsenal and Manchester United – the two Premier League sides most in need of a centre back; although Chelsea are surely going to be desperate for one this summer as well.
Umtiti would be a brilliant signing for Arsenal.
25-years-old, he is an athletic centre back who is naturally left sided. You can foresee him fitting in nicely alongside Sokratis in the short term.
The stumbling block however will be the fee.
Umtiti has been touted around at the £60million mark, which would take up the majority of Arsenal’s existing transfer kitty.
So how would Arsenal afford Umtiti whilst leaving enough money to buy a central midfielder, winger and a left back?
The easy answer is that they need to sell to be, and we have to sellable central defenders who could find themselves surplus to requirements were Umtiti to join.
The first is Shokdran Mustasfi.
The German international has had a tough time of late, with every error magnified online.
He is not as bad as some people make out, but he is not the level required for a starting central defender.
Unai Emery has been unable to drop him recently despite poor form. Injuries to Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny and Kostadinos Mavropanos have left Arsenal with two fit central defenders.
With Sokratis set for a 2 match ban, Mustafi has a part to play in the run in.
Despite his poor recent form, Arsenal would still be able to command a decent fee for Mustafi.
He is not on huge wages (£90,000 per week) and would start for every team outside of the top 6. Were Everton, Wolves, Watford or Leicester to move for him, Arsenal could easily recoup £20million.
Umtiti should be seen as a direct replacement for Mustafi.
If Arsenal made the two deals, it would leave us with Umtiti, Sokratis, Holding, Koscielny and Mavropanos as out defensive options. It would give us strong cover.
The man not mentioned above is Calum Chambers, and he is another that Arsenal should cash in on.
Chambers is currently performing well at Fulham. Despite their struggles, he has been their shining light playing central midfield.
His good form has led for some Arsenal fans to call for his return, but his time at Arsenal is clearly up.
Chambers left on loan to Fulham having found himself behind Sokratis, Mustafi, Holding and Koscielny in the pecking order. He has since made a bit of a name for himself playing in the middle of the park for Fulham.
Were he to return he would still be 5th choice centre back at best (if we signed Umtiti) and would also be behind Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.
Taking into account how little game time Ainsley Maitland-Niles has had (in the middle of the park or Mohamed Elneny, Chambers would simply not play.
Due to his good form at Fulham, Arsenal would likely receive £20m+ for him.
Any of the promoted sides would snap him up, as well as the lower end Premier League teams. He would be an asset to all of them.
So were Arsenal to sell Chambers and Mustafi, we would raise over £40million, which would be 2/3s of Umtiti’s transfer fee. That would leave plenty more in the pot to improve elsewhere.
Maybe Arsenal should go in with £80million and snap up both Umtiti and Malcolm?
Going to be a big summer for Unai Emery.