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Could Daniel Agger Be a Suitable Replacement for Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen?

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Daniel Agger of Liverpool reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on December 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2014

Although Arsenal have already done a decent chunk of business, their summer recruitment drive is far from over. The latest stories suggest they are preparing to offset the loss of Thomas Vermaelen by signing Liverpool’s Daniel Agger. According to The Sun (h/t Sam Adams of the Daily Mirror), a bid for the Danish defender is imminent:

Arsenal are planning to move for Liverpool defender Daniel Agger, according to reports.

The Gunners are reportedly preparing to bid for the Reds centre-back, 29, despite efforts by his former club Brondby to bring him back to his native Denmark.

Arsene Wenger is considering moving for the player as a replacement for Manchester United and Barcelona target Thomas Vermaelen, say the Sun.

Agger faces an uncertain future at Anfield following the arrival of £20m Croatia centre back Dejan Lovren from Southampton.

Vermaelen’s departure seems almost certain. Toward the back end of the 2012/13 season, he lost his place in the Arsenal team to Laurent Koscielny. He has never quite recovered it.

Vermaelen’s eagerness to win the ball can lead to acts of impetuousness that have raised doubts over his suitability for a regular place in the Gunners’ back four. As a Belgian international, he cannot afford to spend much longer on the substitutes bench. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 12:  Marc-Antoine Fortune of Wigan Athletic is tackled by Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal during the FA Cup Semi-Final match between Wigan Athletic and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on April 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike He
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

His relative fall from grace does not mean there won’t be plenty of takers. As the Daily Mirror’s piece mentions, Vermaelen will have some attractive options this summer. Both Manchester United and Barcelona are reportedly on his tail. He seems like a natural fit for both teams, having both the technical ability to flourish at the Nou Camp and the versatility to fit in to Louis van Gaal’s nascent 3-5-2 system at United. 

Should Vermaelen go, Agger would be a decent replacement. He is already experienced in the Premier League, having earned his stripes over several seasons with Liverpool. At 29, he is at the prime age for a defender: experienced without yet being over the hill. 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23:  Daniel Agger of Liverpool competes with Romelu Lukaku of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on November 23, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunsk
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

He’s also very gifted on the ball. Like Vermaelen, he has the capacity to bring the ball out of the defence and start moves from the back. That will appeal to Arsene Wenger, who ideally wants his defenders to be technicians as well as tacklers.

Both players are left-footed, which lends versatility to Wenger’s central defensive options. The Gunners manager prefers to field a centre-back pairing who are comfortable on alternate sides, as he believes it offers balance to the team’s approach play. 

Agger shares Vermaelen’s penchant for long-range goals. Both men have a left foot capable of thundering strikes from distance. That ability to produce the spectacular can sometimes mask deficiencies in their game. Like Vermaelen, Agger is prone to occasional lapses in concentration.

However, the good probably outweighs the bad. Finding a defender who is available, affordable and willing to challenge Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for a regular place will not be easy. If Agger comes on to the market, he could prove to be an astute acquisition.

 

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.

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