Arsenal are thought to be making preparations for the loss of defender Thomas Vermaelen. The Gunners captain has been repeatedly linked with a transfer to Manchester United throughout the summer window. While unlikely to be overly keen to sell to a major Premier League rival, Arsène Wenger may well consider it good business to recoup a reported £10 million for a 28-year-old who has just a year left on his contract and has featured sparingly in the starting lineup since the partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny established itself in March 2013.
But it is believed that Wenger intends to secure a replacement before Vermaelen is allowed to leave. His ideal scenario would appear to be getting another center-back directly from Manchester United. The Daily Mirror has become the latest publication to suggest that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are on Wenger’s wanted list.
Such rumors are little surprise given that Arsenal tried to sign both players before they moved to Old Trafford. Indeed both were on the verge of joining Arsenal before Sir Alex Ferguson’s personal intervention saw Smalling arrive from Fulham for a reported £7 million transfer fee in 2010 and Jones for £16.5 million from Blackburn Rovers a year later. Neither has thus far been able to establish themselves as a first-team regular at Old Trafford, but, as well as still having plenty of time to fulfill their potential, Wenger will be attracted by the fact that both can also provide cover at right-back.
That may be especially relevant now that Arsenal look set to miss out on young Spanish right-back Javier Manquillo. Despite replacing the departed Bacary Sagna with Mathieu Debuchy, the Gunners are thought to have been attempting to bring the 20-year-old on loan from Atletico Madrid. Instead, Sky Sports now reports that Liverpool are poised to complete a similar deal.
Arsenal may also have eyes elsewhere in their search for defensive reinforcements. Included among their targets is Manchester City center-back Matija Nastasic, according to the Daily Mail. The 21-year-old Serbia international backed up his reputation as one of Europe’s finest young defenders when first moving to the Premier League from Fiorentina two years ago, but was blighted by injuries last season, limiting him to just 11 Premier League starts.
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With City pushing to complete a big-money transfer for Porto’s France international defender Eliaquim Mangala, there is a chance Nastasic could be prized away. The Mail believes he is available for £16 million.
Arsenal’s current defenders could well be playing in front of a new goalkeeper this season, with the signing of Colombia No. 1 David Ospina poised to be completed. The Guardian reports that a £3 million deal has been agreed with Ligue 1 side Nice. The Gunners were in need of a new stopper following the departures of Lukasz Fabianski on a free transfer to Swansea City and loanee Emiliano Viviano, who has returned to Palermo. Ospina, impressive as Colombia reached the quarterfinals in this summer’s World Cup, will now vie with Wojciech Szczesny for a starting role.