With transfer deadline day nearing its conclusion, Spanish publication AS has reported that Nacho Monreal has traveled to London to complete a proposed move from Malaga. The fee is reported to be around the €10 million (£8.6m) mark.
The move for the left-back appears to be a direct reaction to an injury suffered to Kieran Gibbs in Wednesday night’s 2-2 result with Liverpool. Arsenal’s first-choice left-back has a thigh problem that looks set to keep him on the sidelines for at least three weeks.
Gibbs’s absence leaves Andre Santos as the club’s only available and established left-back, which has proved a concerning realization for many Arsenal fans.
Santos has been repeatedly criticized for his defensive fallibility since his move from Fenerbahce in the summer of 2011. He also didn’t do his cause with Arsenal supporters any good when he went to swap shirts with former Gunner Robin van Persie as the players walked of at half time during the clash with Manchester United earlier in the season.
Thomas Vermaelen could potentially switch from the center to the left-back slot, but it appears Wenger identified signing a defender as a priority.
“Yes. That’s how quickly football changes,” Wenger responded to a question about whether he would target a defensive signing, according to TalkSport.
"Three days ago people told me we need strikers. Now, this time, we’re speaking about defenders.
“We’ll see what we can do.”
Monreal, 26, has been a regular this season for a Malaga side that currently sits fourth in La Liga and qualified for the Champions League knockout stages at a canter in their first appearance in the competition. The fact that Malaga are still involved in the competition does mean that Monreal would be cup-tied for the Champions League for Arsenal.
Monreal came through the youth ranks with Osasuna and played for five seasons with the club from the city of his birth, Pamplona.
The player moved to Malaga in the summer of 2011 for around £5 million as the La Liga side splashed the cash under their new Qatari owners. Monreal enjoyed immediate success with Malaga, appearing in 33 league matches as they finished fourth and achieved a precious place in the Champions League.
But it soon became apparent that the investment had dried up last summer and Malaga sought to sell off some of its assets. The financial problems allowed Arsenal to sign Santi Cazorla in August and it now appears that Monreal will be reuniting with his former teammate at the Emirates.
As opposed to Santos, who often looks impressive going forward in stark contrast to his defensive acumen, Monreal is a much more consistent all-round performer. Importantly for Arsenal, Monreal is good on the ball. He is also attuned his defensive requirements, though, and is decent in the air for his 5-foot-10 frame. Don’t expect Monreal to be too much of a goal threat, however, as he has yet to find the back of the net more than once in any season to date.
After making his debut for Spain in 2009, Monreal now appears to have established himself as the second-choice left-back for the World and European champions behind Barcelona’s Jordi Alba.