Arsenal Transfer Rumors: Gunners Interested in France International Adil Rami

Jason VossFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2013

VALENCIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 07: Adil Rami of Valencia looks on before the UEFA Champions League group F match between Valencia CF and FC BATE Borisov at Estadi de Mestalla on November 7, 2012 in Valencia, Spain. Valencia won 4-2.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger looks keen on improving Arsenal's defensive contingent heading into the summer transfer window as the Gunners have been linked with Valencia centre-back Adil Rami.

The Frenchman will leave Valencia this summer, according to Football-Espana, with a bid of £8 million thought to be enough to secure his signature.

The 27-year-old joined Valencia from Lille back in 2011 and has emerged as one of the most reliable defenders in La Liga. He's made 74 appearances for Valencia during his tenure at the Estadio Mestalla, including a whopping 53 appearances in all competitions in the 2011-12 campaign.

Injuries plagued him this season, but since winning a first team spot at Lille back in 2008, Rami made at least 33 league appearances in every season since then, up until this season.

Standing at a towering 6'3", Rami excels in the air, using his height and physicality to great effect, winning aerial duels against opposing forwards. He has a deft passing touch for a centre-back, and while he doesn't boast a world-class passing success rate, just 82.5 percent, his penchant for playing long balls is undoubtedly a detriment in that respect.

He doesn't average many tackles at all, just 1.4 per game, yet his two interceptions per game speak to his ability to read the game. When he does decide to tackle, he does it cautiously, not lunging into them like many other players.

He won his first cap back in 2010 and became an integral part of the France set up, winning 25 caps and scoring one goal in his time with Les Bleus. France coach Didier Deschamps named a 23-man squad ahead of two friendly matches against Uruguay and Brazil, and Rami was one of the names, beating out Philippe Mexes, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa,Younes Kaboul and Raphael Varane.

He joins Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny and PSG defender Mamadou Sakho as Deschamps' three centre-back options. Should Deschamps prefer a centre-back pairing of Koscielny and Rami, it would give Gunners fans a preview of what they can expect should Wenger move for Rami.

Arsenal has a crowded defensive corps with a number of talented players, and adding Rami could only further complicate the situation. Captain Thomas Vermaelen did not enjoy his best season this year, yet his past performances have proven that the Belgium international can excel in the Premier League. Vermaelen is versatile enough to be fielded on the left—however, the addition of former Malaga man Nacho Monreal has given Wenger his first choice left-back.

Laurent Koscielny is a resolute defender but he made just 20 starts this season. Per Mertesacker has been the Gunners best option at centre-back this season and has played well enough to earn a starting role for next season and beyond. Adding Rami would be a nightmare for the depth chart, as one of the aforementioned defenders currently at the London club will likely see even less time on the pitch and could experience a fate similar to the one Kolo Toure has undergone at Manchester City.

Having a great defensive corps is of paramount importance for a top flight club, and Arsenal already seem to have one, as the Gunners' defense ranked as the Premier League's second best in terms of goals conceded. Considering Rami could be available for less than £10 million and he's 27, which is widely considered to be the prime of a footballer's career, the buy would not be a bad one, but Arsenal must not overpay for him.

Arsenal only have two options at right-back: an aging Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson, who really is not Arsenal grade. Instead of putting money into the centre-back position, of which they have three viable options in Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker, not to mention promising youngster Ignasi Miquel, Arsene Wenger should search for Sagna's future replacement.

In truth, centre-back is one of the positions that Arsenal must pay the least attention to, instead focusing on acquiring a new goalkeeper and a defensive midfield hardman. Striker is another position that could use some improvement, as players such as Gonzalo Higuain have been linked to the Emirates Stadium outfit, representing an improvement over Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.

Rami is a quality player and would give Arsene Wenger a four-man centre-back rotation that would rank amongst the world's best, but the question remains as to whether or not Arsenal really need centre-back help considering how well the defense played last season.

Considering that Wenger will reportedly have £70 million to spend in his transfer kitty, £8 million for Rami wouldn't make a huge dent, and he's certainly worth the money, especially considering that Vermaelen is injury prone.

The Valencia defender must know what he's getting into at Arsenal, as he'll have to contend for his spot week-in and week-out. With the World Cup coming up, Rami will want to hold down a first team spot and prove to Deschamps that he deserves a starting role for France.

As good as Arsenal's defense was last season, Wenger could opt for a partnership of Koscielny and Mertesacker, the centre-back pairing the French tactician preferred for most of the season. This would leave Rami out of the first team and could put his spot in the France national team in jeopardy, as Yanga-Mbiwa, Mexes, Kaboul and Varane will be nipping at his heels.

Adil Rami must decide if he wants to compete for his spot and possibly improve because of the high competition level or join a side where he'll be a guaranteed starter. Should he choose to move to Arsenal, £8 million is a very reasonable price that would leave more than enough money for Wenger to improve actual areas of need.