Arsenal Transfer Prospects: The 8 Best Potential Replacements for Gael Clichy
Veteran Arsenal left back Gael Clichy is still unable to conclude an agreement over a contract extension with Arsene Wenger as the Frenchman aspires to command silverware and glory after enduring sixth successive seasons without silverware at the Emirates.
The 25-year-old is entering the final year on his contract, and Wenger is eager to tie down Clichy rather than risk a departure next season for free.
Regarded as one of the strongest left backs in the English Premier League, the former Cannes midfielder is currently the longest serving Gunner in Wenger's squad, having arrived in North London during 2003. Clichy is also the last member of the Arsenal squad to achieve silverware with the North London giants, winning the renowned Invincibles title in 2003/2004.
A quick, experienced left back, Clichy's inability to re-sign for Arsenal has ensured rivals Liverpool have made a £5 million bid for the France international. Although highly regarded, Clichy's form has diminished considerably in recent seasons with the Frenchman a mere figure of his form in 2007/2008 which earned him a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
Wenger is obviously eager to maintain Clichy's presence at the Emirates due to his leadership and calibre and undoubtedly will be tentative to sell his left back to a fellow English Premier League side. The likes of Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Juventus have all expressed interest in acquiring the fullback, and Wenger desires more than the £5 million offered by the Reds.
With the need for success intensifying at the Emirates due to the distinct lack of success over recent years, the French tactician has been allowed an increased transfer budget for the current summer transfer window which enables Wenger to target high calibre potential replacements.
So this slideshow establishes the eight best potential replacements, external and internal, for Gael Clichy, should the Frenchman fail to extend his contract with the Gunners.
8. Maynor Fiqueroa: Wigan Athletic
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The Honduran has been a permanent presence in the Latics' starting side for over three seasons and has emerged as quick, consistent left back who possesses a lethal cross and impressive strength. The 28-year-old is an admired fullback who is rumoured to be departing Wigan Athletic this summer.
With over 75 EPL games for Wigan and 78 appearances for Honduras, Figueroa is an experienced, quality left back whose attacking prowess and crossing ability would provide Arsenal will a more dynamic attack. Both of Arsenal's fullbacks Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna are guilty of possessing a poor crossing game despite the Gunner's heavy use of the air during their attacks.
The former Olimpia fullback boasts a solid defensive display which has thwarted some of the EPL most devastating wingers. Sunderland and Liverpool have both expressed a desire to secure the Honduran's services which are likely to command up to £10 million.
However, Arsenal would be able to entice the Wigan flyer with the prospect of UEFA Champions League football and a strong Premier League challenge. Furthermore, the price is well within Wenger's reach.
7. Michel Bastos: Olympique Lyon
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The Brazilian has been a standout performer in the French Ligue for some time now, and the 27-year-old possess the desire for a move to Spain or Italy, but Arsenal are easily able to entice the left back due to UEFA Champions League football and a sufficient English Premier League title challenge.
A versatile, quick left back, Bastos is renowned as one of the strongest and efficient fullbacks in France, boasting over 180 appearances with Lille and Lyon respectively. The former Feyenoord defender is blessed with impressive attacking prowess, Bastos secured 15 goals, including a hat trick, during the 2009/2010 before scoring eight goals this season.
The Brazil international is currently a prime target for Juventus and Liverpool, but should Gael Clichy depart, Wenger would have the funds to tempt Bastos, who would be able to cover the left wing position which could aid Kieran Gibbs.
A quality replacement none the less.
6. Aly Cissokho: Olympique Lyon
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French giants Lyon enjoy the luxury of possessing two quality left backs with 23-year-old Aly Cissokho a shinning light in the Kids line up. The Frenchman was outstanding for FC Porto before being acquired by Lyon in 2009.
Cissokho achieved the Portuguese double with Porto and has since made 75 appearances in two seasons for the French giants. Evasive, powerful and naturally quick, the France international is high on Liverpool's radar but should the Reds acquire Clichy, it will allow Wenger to pounce on Cissokho.
Many would regard the 23-year-old stronger defensively then Clichy, but the Frenchman does not boast English Premier League experience and will come at a price for the Arsenal manager. However, there is no denying the ability and character beside the young age of the left back.
5. Pedro Botelho: Arsenal
Arsenal fans are incredibly eager to finally witness the ability of Pedro Botelho up close after the Brazilian has been forced to endure the last three seasons on loan spells due to work permit issues. Purchased in 2007 from Brazilian outfit Figueirense, the 21-year-old has experienced season long stins at UD Salamanca, Celta Vigo and Cartagena in the past three seasons with Botelho consistently impressing.
An imposing, powerful player, the Brazilian is equally adpet on the wing and at left back. Strong and fast, Botelho possesses a incisive cross alongside balance and skill. The fullback was particularly impressive this season in the Spanish Segunda amassing 32 appearances and four goals for the Spanish second division side.
Botelho is expected to finally be permitted to join the Arsenal squad in 2011/2012 and Wenger may see the opportunity to grant the young gun a place in the Arsenal starting XI.
4. Armand Traore: Arsenal
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Many believed that Armand Traore's Arsenal career had concluded as the Frenchman prepared for a season long loan spell with Juventus for 2010/2011. It worsened when persistent injuries during the spell restricted the 21-year-old to just 12 appearances for the Italian giants.
However, there were positive signs for the left back during his handful of opportunities. A solid defender whose ability has been conveyed, particularly during 2008/2009 when the French youngster enjoyed a stellar EPL loan spell with Portsmouth, with Traore securing 28 appearances and a lone goal for Pompey.
Traore has Premier League experience and given the opportunity, could thrive as a first-choice left back. There is underlying promise in the former AS Monaco fullback who has much development to be achieved, which could come rapidly if promoted.
3. Emilio Izaguirre: Celtic
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The Honduran left back has enjoyed a superb season in the Scottish Premier League with Celtic. Izaquirre was a revelation on the left flank conveying consistent, powerful displays after playing last season in the Honduras League.
Forty-two appearances and one goal concluded the season for the 26-year-old, and his efforts were rewarded upon securing the SPFA Player's Player of the Year, the Clydesdale Bank SPL Player of the Year, Celtic's Player's Player of the Year and the Scottish Football Writers Player of the Year awards.
Once again, Liverpool are interested in the Honduran, but should Clichy depart to Anfield, Wenger can secure the services of Izaquirre with ease and for a cheap, effective price.
2. Kieran Gibbs: Arsenal
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The English international has long been viewed as Clichy's successor, but injuries, coupled with Wenger's negligence to use Gibbs on a consistent basis, have diminished the 21-year-old's reputation as a left back. After a stellar 2008/2009 where Gibbs immediately mitigated a second half season injury to Clichy, the Englishman has only featured 27 times in the last two seasons for the Gunners.
However, there is no denying the former Wimbledon youth's ability and calibre. A strong, fast and intelligent defender, Gibbs has thwarted some of the best EPL attackers and possesses superb experience domestically and in Europe.
However, there is questions over whether or not the Englishman is ready to become the Arsenal first choice left back with many stating Gibbs commands a EPL loan spell in 2010/2011.
1. Leighton Baines: Everton
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One of the most respected and admired presences in World Football, Leighton Baines is the best replacement for Gael Clichy should the Frenchman depart the Emirates.
Experienced at both international and English Premier League level, the 26-year-old is one of the most consistent and reliable defenders in World Football alongside possessing one of the strongest attacking games and set-piece dominance.
Baines was easily Everton's player of the season after impressing throughout the campaign with reliable defensive displays and contributing attacks with 44 appearances and seven goals. The English left back is now a hot prospect throughout the Premier League, and with the Toffees in potential financial discomfort, Baines may be sold on a big money offer.
Wenger is a notable admirer of the English international but faces stiff competition from Manchester City.