Arsenal's summer transfer window plans are cranking up a notch or two—if the world's football media are to be believed—with the news that they are looking at Sevilla central defender Federico Fazio as a serious target.
The Gunners have seen established first-choice and club captain Thomas Vermaelen left out in recent weeks, fuelling speculation that they will enter the market for defensive reinforcements in the summer—and Sky Sports claims that Fazio is the first choice for manager Arsene Wenger.
Fazio has been at Sevilla since 2007, though it wasn't until midway through the 2010-11 campaign that he established himself as an immovable part of the team. This season he has played in 25 Primera Division matches, missing just three league games since October.
Though naturally a central defender, Fazio also has experience playing as a holding central midfielder, where his presence and size can be of benefit against powerful opposition.
Defensively, Fazio has certain identifiable strengths and weaknesses.
At 1.95 meters tall, he is obviously an imposing figure in the air, both from set pieces and in open play. His size also means he is able to best opposition forwards in one-on-one duels, but despite his height he is not a particularly broad-bodied player. Strength is not a given in this instance, though Fazio isn't shy about direct confrontations on the ball.
While not a particularly quick mover, his long-legged gait means he can cover ground relatively well—but his reading of the game also aids in this regard. Often he will drop a few yards deeper than his defensive partner, giving himself an extra second or two to react to a situation or reach a ball played into the channels.
In his partnership with Emir Spahic for Sevilla, Fazio is the man to sweep up, play the ball into the midfield line and battle the aerial challenges, leaving Spahic to make the grittier, more direct tackles and challenges.
No fee is mentioned in connection with the rumoured move from Arsenal for Fazio, but with just one year remaining on his deal there is a good chance that it will be for between the £4- and £7 million mark. Fazio is 26 years old and thus approaching what should be his peak years, so a move to a top club could now suit him.
On the other hand, it might represent something of a gamble for the Gunners, who would hope that a player capped just twice by Argentina, a nation not currently blessed with top centre-backs, can now step up a level or two and become the defensive leader they require.