Tag Archives: william carvahlo

Five Thomas Vermaelen replacements

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?

Mats Hummels

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.

William Carvahlo

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.

Fabian Schar

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.

Matija Nastasic

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.

Daniel Agger

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.


Could Arsenal sign both Sami Khedira and William Carvahlo?

According to reports, it seems to be a straight shoot out between Sami Khedira and William Carvahlo to become the next Arsenal defensive midfielder for the 2014/15 season.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. One is experienced, comes with a low fee, but high wages. The other has potential, comes with a high fee but low wages. Both are suitable for the role and both are realistic targets.

But why do we need to talk about ‘either/or’. Why can we not sign both.

“We do not need two defensive midfielders” I hear you cry. Maybe you are correct, but stick with me, lets work this out.

Sami Khedira is 27. He is ready now. He could slot in and perform from day one. He is a class talent. William Carvahlo is 5 years his junior, rawer and would take a bit more time to settle in. You could easily have Khedira in the squad for 5 years, and by the time his legs start to go, Carvahlo will still only be 27 himself.

Both would get plenty of playing time. With defensive midfield being the position you are most likely to pick up bookings, there will be suspension aplenty. It would also give us the option of playing both men in the tougher games. After heavy defeats to Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool last season, it would make sense to start both men to create and stronger defensive spine. Add in Aaron Ramsey and it would make the middle of the park pretty impenetrable.

And who is to say we can not play both men every game? With reports that Alexis Sanchez will be our first choice striker next season, we could line up:

Debuchy Koscielny Mertersacker Gibbs
Khedira Carvahlo Ramsey
Walcott Sanchez Ozil

A lot more defensive than last season, but still with plenty of attacking talent. In would certainly be an option.

Another factor could be Thomas Vermaelen.

With the captain set to leave (have we ever been so unbothered about a captain leaving?), it leaves us without a back up centre back. Now so more learned people than myself have said Carvahlo can play centre back. So lets look at it another way, Carvahlo would be coming in as 3rd choice centre back, 2nd choice defensive midfielder.

Last season Vermaelen played 14 league games and 21 in all competitions. Bacary Sagna played twice at centre back. Matuieu Flamini played an additional 25 league games, 34 in total. That is 57 games in total where we did not play our first choice defensive midfielder (Arteta) or one of our 1st choice centre backs were out injured.

57 games last year. Suddenly buying a centre back / defensive midfield hybrid becomes an interesting proposition.

Last season, between Flamini, Arteta, Vermaelen and Sagna (at right back), exactly 100 games were played. That is more than enough to go around to justify spending big on two players.

“But if we sell Vermaelen, we still have Flamini and Arteta in the squad, and what about Chambers?” I now hear you think. Well, we are moving forward, it is about improving the squad. Chambers will get enough game time as 4th choice centre back / 2nd choice right back, so do no worry about someone coming in ahead of him, it will not, to quote Wenger, “kill him”.

Flamini and Arteta
Khedira and Carvahlo

When it is put down that plainly, the decision is obvious. Khedira and Carvhalo are far superior.

But what for Arteta and Flamini?

Well Arteta has 1 year left on his contract. He has already been linked with moves away. The decision could be up to him. Stay at Arsenal, see out his contract, get little play time, and leave for a free next year, or take a move this summer. It would be his choice.

Flamini would be worth hanging on to. With 2 years on his contract (people are actually moaning we gave him a 3 year deal!), he would still have a place in the Arsenal squad, covering both defensive midfielders, as well as full backs. He would still get game time, just not as much as last season.

Either way, were we to buy Khedira and Carvahlo, one of Flamini or Arteta would have to leave, or be happy playing single figure games next season.

Of course, buying both would be expensive. In the region of £40 million. But we can afford it. We have a current net expenditure of circa £41,000,000. Taking into account Vermaelen is set to leave for £10 million, that will be reduced to £31,000,000. Adding two additional players for a total of £40,000,000 would leave us with a net spend of £71,000,000. A lot, yes, but we have the money.

This total would be reduced further if, as reported, Santi Cazorla returns to Spain, however, I believe he will stay.

What buying both might do is restrict us from buying a striker. It would leave us with not much left. Of having to wait for the right person to come available, rather than buying a ‘he will do’ type striker. But with Giroud, Sanchez, Sanogo, Walcott, Campbell & Podolski, we have plenty of options up top.

Can we afford and accommodate signing both Sami Khedira and William Carvahlo? The answer is yes.