To cover that hypothetical scenario, here is a scouting report on Howedes, a 26-year-old, 6'2", 176-pound German international.
Erik Durm morphed from a struggling centre-forward to a top-flight left-back in one season.
But his inexperience gave German national team manager Joachim Low pause for thought.
Low opted to play the steadier and seasoned Howedes out of position at left-back (predominantly a centre-back, who has slotted in at right-back for Schalke).
Perpetually singled out as a weak link at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Howedes did not make an error leading to the goal conceded in Germany's 1-0 World Cup final win over Argentina.
Argentine right attacking midfielder Ezequiel Lavezzi had the advantageous match-up against Howedes.
A fleet-footed, nippy and immensely gifted dribbler, Lavezzi was lively, but he failed to cash in.
Then-Argentine national team manager Alejandro Sabella did Howedes a big favour by subbing Lavezzi out.
Lavezzi was the one player who looked the most likely to leave Howedes chasing a shadow like Hans-Peter Briegel desperately running after Jorge Burruchaga, who scored Argentina's winning goal against West Germany in the 1986 World Cup final.
"[Lionel] Messi is one of the best players in the world, but just as I said before the Portugal game when we faced [Cristiano] Ronaldo, we have to defend as a team," Howedes said, per Sky Sports. "We have to stifle his opportunities to score a goal."
Yet, Howedes came closer to scoring (hitting the post with a header) than Messi, the World Cup Golden Ball recipient (Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos deserved the award more than Messi).
Furthermore to playing at left-back for Germany, Howedes is tactically adjustable starting at right-back and centre-back for Schalke.
A reactionary tackler, Howedes committed 18 fouls in 19 Bundesliga games.
|League Only||Benedikt Howedes||Laurent Koscielny||Per Mertesacker||Thomas Vermaelen|
|Tackles Per Game||1.6||1.7||1.2||1.0|
|Fouls Per Game||0.9||0.9||0.3||0.4|
|Tackles Per Foul||1.7||1.8||3.4||2.3|
|Interceptions Per Game||2.7||2.8||1.7||1.4|
|Blocked Shots Per Game||0.7||0.7||0.5||0.1|
Howedes prefers waiting to the last possible moment and intervening, as evident when he stopped Hoffenheim centre-forward Sven Schipplock from scoring.
Carrying injury baggage will make Howedes less desirable to Wenger, who is trying to figure out why his players are injury-prone, per Paul Doyle at The Guardian.
- March 20, 2014: Howedes "suffered a muscle tear to his left adductor," per FourFourTwo.
- December 12, 2013: "Howedes suffered a torn muscle in his right thigh after a 29th-minute clash with Basel striker Marco Streller," per Bundesliga.com.
- March 4, 2012: "The Germany defender [Howedes] suffered a torn muscle fibre in his left thigh in Bundesliga action on Saturday," per UEFA.com.
- November 17, 2011: "The central defender [Howedes] partially ruptured ligaments in his right knee during Germany's 3-0 friendly success against the Netherlands," per UEFA.com.
Though, the red flag in Howedes' game is his mental lapses.
Despite being on a yellow card against Borussia Monchengladbach, Howedes inexplicably raised his arm to divert the shot of Gladbach deep-lying forward Max Kruse.
Not only did Howedes concede a penalty, he was also dismissed by referee Felix Zwayer for two bookings.
Howedes failed to close down Bayern Munich left-back David Alaba, who delivered a cross to then-Bayern (now Atletico Madrid) centre-forward Mario Mandzukic.
Even with Eintracht Braunschweig centre-forward Orhan Ademi telegraphing a turn, Howedes let Ademi spin away.
Howedes has executed some ghastly challenges.
- Using excessive force
- Denying an obvious scoring opportunity
Not only was it a low-percentage challenge, but Howedes could have also seriously injured Diouf by sliding in from behind with velocity and following through.
You witnessed a snapshot of Howedes' recklessness in the World Cup final when he hacked Argentine right-back Pablo Zabaleta.
In an injury-ravaged past season, Howedes was mediocre when he played for Schalke.
- Twenty-five defenders were ranked ahead of Howedes in Kicker's Bundesliga player rankings.
- Bild were harsher placing Howedes as the 55th-best defender in the Bundesliga last season.
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen "is set to meet with Arsenal to finalise his future," per Graeme Bailey at Sky Sports.
While Howedes' injury history is concerning, there are reasons why he should be a Wenger target.
- Howedes brings experience as a World Cup winner.
- He can play across the defence.
- He would fit in with Arsenal's German clique (Gedion Zelalem, Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld).
Statistics via WhoScored.com
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