Arsenal are being linked with a late swoop for Newcastle United target Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. It's a move the Gunners must make to rescue their flagging top four hopes.
Reports in The Daily Mirror indicate that Arsenal could gazump Newcastle in a bid to land Mbiwa in the January transfer window. The Magpies already have a deal in place for the versatile defender.
However, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a fan of Mbiwa and could certainly use his skills to fix key defensive positions. Mbiwa has been a stalwart for Montpellier in recent seasons. His defensive excellence helped them beat mega-rich PSG to last season's Ligue 1 title.
He can play across the back line, but is best used as a central defender. Gunners fans got two opportunities to scout Mbiwa in this season's UEFA Champions League. They had to be suitably impressed.
The France international is quick, powerful and decisive. While he is technically skilled, Mbiwa's best attribute is his aggression. He is a rugged, uncompromising defender and that's something Arsenal have sorely missed since the days when Sol Campbell was the foundation of their back four.
Arsenal's problems in central defense have persisted this season. For all of Per Mertesacker's intelligence, there is a strange timidity evident in the German giant's play. Not to mention the ex-Werder Bremen man's lack of pace, which consistently threatens to undo Arsenal.
The only consistent part of Laurent Koscielny's game this season, has been attracting own goals and game-turning mistakes. Thomas Vermaelen has understandably struggled due to the lack of continuity and quality alongside him. Although the Belgian's enthusiasm sometimes creates problems of his own making.
With only Sebastien Squillaci in reserve, the Gunners need a quality option at the heart of their defense. Mbiwa certainly fits the bill.
If Wenger can't find room for him across the back, perhaps Mbiwa could operate in a defensive midfield role. It's a position he has played in the past and an area of some concern for the Gunners. Mbiwa occupied the role in Montpellier's second meeting with Arsenal, back in November. His athleticism, strength and precise tackling helped keep tricky playmaker Santi Cazorla in check.
With Mikel Arteta injured and ageing, Arsenal currently rely on the ultra-brittle Abou Diaby and youngster Francis Coquelin. After Coquelin was recently kicked off the pitch against Chelsea, Arsenal again find themselves one injury to Diaby short of catastrophe. Only youthful, long-term absentee Emmanuel Frimpong provides depth. Mbiwa would be an excellent addition as a defensive shield at the base of Arsenal's midfield.
Mbiwa simply offers too many appealing qualities for Arsenal not to make an offer. At 23, he fits the mould of the younger squad Wenger likes to build. As captain of Montpellier, he has the leadership skills many believe the Gunners currently lack.
More importantly, his versatility and defensive prowess are invaluable attributes that Arsenal need now. Wenger has to make a bid.754955