Arsenal Transfer Prospects: The Top Ten Defenders Wenger Can Target In January
This slideshow continues on from the article "Ten Defenders Wenger Can Target This Month" . With January finally here, ensuring the commencement of the eventful January Transfer Window, Arsenal's need for a quality central defender is great as their title aspirations are somewhat resting on an inconsistent, nervy central defence.
However, manager Arsene Wenger can acquire the solution this month.
The defensive woes have been documented heavily in the article above, the absent of defensive leader Thomas Vermaelen has been the main focal point in the demise of Arsenal central pairings.
Whilst imposing Swiss Johan Djourou has been superb this season, having missed all but the final game of last campaign, Wenger has taken a tentative approach to the 23-year-old and refuses to utilize Djourou on a consistent basis.
So with one defender barely able to walk and the other still lacking 100 percent fitness, Arsenal's two summer signings have been forced to take the reins.
Little known French defender Laurent Koscienly, who arrived from Lorient FC for £10 million, and experienced defender Sebastien Squillaci, who departed Spanish giants Sevilla to join the Gunners for £3.2 million, have been the main reasons why Arsenal do not lead the EPL table.
Whilst Koscienly has shown promising signs and has all the traits to be a strong defender, his Arsenal career start has been tainted by inconsistency, poor positioning and error-prone ways.
Sebastien Squillaci, on the other hand, has had a horrid start to his Arsenal career. The Frenchman has failed to cope with the pace and physicality of the English game and has been at fault for a number of Arsenal losses and goals.
With Vermaelen not expected to return to the fray until late January, and even then the Belgian will need time to regain fitness and power, Arsenal need a solution to their central defensive woes fast and it can come in the January transfer window.
So here are ten more defenders for Wenger to target.
1. Per Mertesacker: Werder Bremen: £12-15 Million
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Ideally the perfect defensive signing for Wenger and the Gunners. Per Mertesacker epitomizes the strong yet efficient defender who refuses to use an over aggressive, powerful behaviour towards defending.
The German giant has been a consistent, strong performer for Werder Bremen for a number of seasons now and many critics believe the 26-year-old would thrive in Europe's best league.
At 6-foot-6, Mertesacker possess a huge presence alongside being blessed with great control and an intelligent footballing brain.
The former Hannover 96 defender would provide the Arsenal defensive line with much-needed height, power and confidence, which is just what the Gunners need to conquer their notorious five-year trophy drought.
A number of big-name clubs are vying for Mertesacker's services, with Arsenal and Liverpool said to be the front runners.
Wenger has expressed his desire to acquire the German international despite Werder Bremen being rumoured to want around £12-15 million for their defensive maestro.
2. Souleymane Diawara: Olympique Marseille: £10 Million
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Although Diawara may be 31, there is no denying the Senegalese centre half is a dominant defender. He is blessed with great strength and size, and Wenger has been a fan of the former Charlton Atheltic defender for a number of years.
The Marseille defender has been a consistent performer in the French League, as well as for Senegal, for a number of years now and many believe the 31-year-old has the ability to thrive in the Premier League.
Reports suggest that Wenger was attempting to lure the Senegal dynamo to the Emirates last season, but a deal failed to materialize.
Nonetheless, that could change come January. Diawara is said to be worth around £10 million, which is the same amount Wenger bought Laurent Koscienly from Lorient FC.
Diawara is experienced and a native French speaker who could be the answer to the Gunners defensive woes.
3. Joris Mathijsen: Hamburg SV: £6-10 Million
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The Dutch defender has impressed for a number of years whilst with German giants Hamburg SV and the Dutch national side. The 30-year-old was an integral part and leader of the Netherlands side that progressed to the final of the 2010 World Cup.
Mathijsen is blessed with a tenacious, strong defensive approach much like Thomas Vermaelen. The Hamburg SV defender is also a natural leader who has a great deal of experience under his belt, too.
Touted with a move to the Premier League for a number of years now, Mathijsen is blessed with a superb tackle, experience and admirable strength.
Likely to cost somewhat of a sum but nothing too demanding, he would be a worthy addition to the Arsenal side.
4. James Collins: Aston Villa: £8-12 Million
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The Welsh centre half has matured and developed rapidly over the past few seasons to emerge as one of the EPL's toughest defenders. Collins is an imposing, powerful defender who possesses a calamitous header and a great tackle.
The former West Ham defender would fit nicely into the Arsenal set up and would provide much-needed power and English Premier League experience.
The 27-year-old is currently with Aston Villa, who aren't enjoying the best of seasons and could be enticed by the opportunity of trophies and Champions League football, which looks to have evaded Gerard Houllier's men this season.
Villa would allow their Welsh international to depart should the correct price range, rumoured to be within £8-13 million, be given.
5. Simon Kjaer: VfL Wolfsburg: £12-15 Million
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The 2009 Danish Player of the Year may have signed with VfL Wolfsburg in the Summer but with the German giants enduring a horror season with a number of their big name players expressing their desire to leave, Arsenal could pounce and sign Kjaer, enticing the Dane to the best league in World Football as well as Champions League football.
Wenger reportedly was keen to acquire the former Palmero centre half service's in the Summer but Wolfsburg won out. However, the Frenchman may reopen negotiations with the current situation at the Wolves.
Kjaer is a brilliant young defender who is highly regarded throughout Europe and has a sterling reputation to become a huge player in the coming years.
The 21-year-old is blessed with great speed and composure at the back as well as an impressive header and tackle.
Due to Wolfsburg recently acquiring Kjaer a heavy price would be in order, around £12-15 million, possibly more.
6. Raul Albiol: Real Madrid: £10-14 Million
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A young, experienced defender who possesses impressive speed and strength, Albiol has seen his playing time slowly stem since arriving at Real Madrid in 2009. A move to London could appeal immensely to the highly talented Spaniard.
The 25-year-old was exceptional whilst with Valencia, which saw Albiol break into the Spanish national side. Capable of playing as a central midfielder or defensive midfield as well as right back and of course centre half, the Spaniard would bring a fantastic array of ability to the Arsenal roster.
Madrid still value their current bench warmer, and the Spanish giants would still demand a large sum, but nothing Wenger can't handle and for such a strong talent, it may just be worth it.
7. Stéphane Mbia: Olympique Marseille: £9-14 Million
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A versatile, powerful defender who can play as a central defender or a defensive midfielder. Mbia was highly linked with a move to the Gunners in the summer, but similar to his Marseille teammate Diawara, a deal failed to materialize.
The Cameroon international is a highly regarded player with huge strength and size. Blessed with a superb passing range and a tenacious playing style, many liken the 24-year-old to Yaya Toure and William Gallas.
Mbia was superb last season alongside Diawara as Marseille won the French Ligue. The former Rennes defender is a typical Arsenal signing for Wenger.
8. Giorgio Chiellini: Juventus: £15-20 Million
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The Italian defensive maestro has been a consistent, commanding force in the Serie A for a number of years now, and many believe the 26-year-old would thrive in the Premier League.
Chiellini is a tenacious, intelligent fullback with impressive strength and a blistering header.
The Juventus starlet has accumulated over 160 games in Italy's best league and is considered one of the leaders in an experienced Juventus squad.
As expected, Chiellini would attract a heavy sum, but Wenger is touted as a great admirer of the Italian international, and the experience and quality Chiellini would provide in the Arsenal defence.
9. Gonzalo Rodriquez: Villarreal C.F: £8-12 Million
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The small yet tenacious centre half has performed well for Villarreal for a number of seasons now, despite enduring a niggling run of injuries.
However, the Argentine defender has begun to show impressive form this season and has begun to show strong traits as a defender.
Wenger could target the 26-year-old to partner Johan Djourou until Thomas Vermaelen returns from injury. Rodriquez would provide a more compact, combative central defence that would cope with the tougher sides in the Premier League.
Blessed with impressive pace and strength, Rodriquez could be a useful signing for the Gunners who is unlikely to cost a heavy amount.
10. Matthew Upson: West Ham: £8-11 Million
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The former Arsenal centre half has always been one of Wenger's regrets. The Frenchman offloaded the Englishman during the glory days in 2003 to Birmingham City and since then, as expected, Upson has become a strong and reliable defender.
Currently, he is one of the bright points in a struggling West Ham squad. Signing Upson would install aggression and power into the Arsenal central defence and help establish added leadership and depth.
With West Ham favourites for relegation this season, Arsenal could offer the 31-year-old a contract too hard to refuse, as well as a healthy sum for Avram Grant.