4 Best Choices to Replace Robin Van Persie as Arsenal Captain
Robin van Persie is about to complete his move to Manchester United, according to Sky Sports. That leaves Arsenal looking for a new captain, as van Persie will become the fourth skipper to head for the exit in the last seven years.
That means Arsene Wenger must identify the best candidate to adorn with the now notorious armband. Here are the top four candidates the Gunners boss should consider:
Regular readers will probably be aware that this author is not Thomas Vermaelen's biggest fan. The enthusiastic Belgian lacks the poise and technical quality of a top-level defender.
However, the one thing nobody can question about Vermaelen is his commitment to the cause. His determination to win is clear every time he steps onto the pitch.
In particular, this scribe was struck by his performance in the 2-0 preseason friendly defeat against Manchester City. Despite the game being an obvious warmup and a PR exercise, Vermaelen never stopped carrying the fight to City.
The fact he was still driving forward in this context, with only two minutes remaining and the score at 2-0, shows the level of fight every team wants their captain to exemplify. The only concern if the armband was handed to Vermaelen, is that his desire to lead by example could lead to him being even more reckless in defensive areas.
Frenchman Laurent Koscielny has proved his doubters wrong and emerged as Arsenal's most skilled defender. The intelligent stopper is close to reaching elite level and that could make him an ideal candidate for the captaincy.
Quality of performances would probably define Koscielny as a captain. He would likely be a quiet skipper, able to lead by example.
However, he may not be a vocal enough leader for a club used to the likes of Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams taking charge on the pitch.
Crafty midfield ace Mikel Arteta is another player possessing a calm determination that might benefit an Arsenal team often guilty of losing composure during the last few seasons. Arteta quickly established himself as a leader after arriving as a deadline day purchase from Everton in 2011.
The experienced Spaniard is not shy about dictating the pace and shape of the team and is willing to demand more from those around him. A drawback to giving Arteta captain's responsibilities is his injury record.
He is not the most durable player and missed time on more than one occasion last season. Arsenal need continuity of leadership and it may be wiser to appoint Arteta vice-captain.
Central defenders often make excellent captains, due to their position allowing them to see the whole field and adjust to any problems as they occur.
Per Mertesacker could excel in this role thanks to his superb reading of the game. The tall defender can also be vocal when the situation requires and, like Arteta, played a key part in reviving Arsenal's fortunes last season.
What counts against Mertesacker is that he would have to beat out one of Vermaelen or Koscielny for a starting berth. That's a tricky challenge for a player recovering from serious injury.
Conclusion: Step forward Thomas Vermaelen
Vermaelen's fiery resolve perhaps makes him the best candidate. Even though Arsenal will not begin this season under the same kind of storm they entered the last, the club will still have its detractors after losing yet another star player.
That means team unity and a certain sense of defiance will be vital psychological weapons during this campaign. Having a captain with Vermaelen's never surrender attitude and style would help foster this kind of sentiment.
Update: BBC.co.uk's David Ornstein has tweeted that Vermaelen is expected to assume the role of captain this season. Official announcement is still pending.
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