Kostas Minolas Link Good News for Arsenal Team Needing Defensive Reinforcements

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IIAugust 20, 2014

TORONTO, ON - JULY 24: Giampaolo Pazzini #11 of AC Milan chases the ball against Kostas Manolas #24 of Olympiacos FC during International Champions Cup 2014 action at BMO Field July 24, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Arsenal made it through the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against Besiktas with no cover for any defender.

Hector Bellerin traveled with the squad to provide some emergency protection for Mathieu Debuchy, but the young Spaniard has only a solitary Arsenal appearance to his name. Who would Arsene Wenger have played at center back if someone got injured? It's anyone's guess.

Last season, the Gunners skated by with three senior center backs and Bacary Sagna as emergency cover. Sagna was actually forced into action at this very stage last year.

But Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen, the only true safety measures Arsenal had, are gone. Both were first-class internationals, and the club has done absolutely nothing to replace them.

Calum Chambers has adapted very well to the center back position—even according to Arsene Wenger—but he is currently not experienced enough to be an option for an elite club in that position and he is also the team's backup right back.

The bottom line is that Arsenal only have two senior center backs at the moment. Yet Wenger told Arsenal.com after the Besiktas game that he is "not close to signing anybody."

That statement is so incredible that it cannot possibly be true. Wenger is neither blind nor an idiot. He must merely be playing his proverbial cards close to his chest.

Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

Rumors about a young Greek center back, per Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph, might just be credible enough to give Arsenal fans some hope. His name is Kostas Manolas, and he deserves to be welcomed with open arms if the Gunners sign him.

Manolas, who is 23 years old, has accrued well over 100 senior appearances for both AEK Athens and his current club Olympiacos. He also has experience under the world's brightest lights, having played for Greece during their run to the last 16 of the World Cup and his club in the Champions League.

If Arsenal really are interested in him, they will probably have scouted him during the club's recent meetings with Olympiacos in the Champions League. That understanding of Europe's premier club competition is surely attractive to Wenger and his staff.

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Superficially, at least, Manolas seems like he would fit in well. He is 6'1" and can fill in at left back or defensive midfielder if absolutely necessary. Yet his physical tools, which are reminiscent of Laurent Koscielny's, provide the versatility that Arsenal need in center backs.

Manolas has pace and the sought-after ability to pick a pass, as well. Arsenal rely heavily on their center backs to start attacking moves by playing the ball out from defense, and anyone who cannot pass will not be successful with this side.

The Greek league is not very good, of course, and Manolas will no doubt need some time to adapt to the various rigors of the Premier League. His Champions League and international experience is minute compared to the 100-plus domestic appearances he has made in Greece.

Arsenal really just need a center back, though. The situation is as dire as can be, and Manolas will be much better than the alternative—nobody, that is.

The Gunners have faced injury crises in the past, but this is no injury crisis. Rather, this is simply a case of having an adequate number of personnel to get through a season. Pretty standard stuff for any football club, really.

Kostas Manolas would be a very solid solution to their problem, and there can be no complaints from the fanbase if he is brought in. But Wenger must add someone. Arsenal do not have the luxury of getting the player they most want, for they are in truly dire need.