Arsenal Transfer Rumors: 5 Reasons Why the Gunners Should Not Sign Phil Jagielka
Nearly all Arsenal supporters agree: the Gunners need to add a central defender this summer.
Not just any young prodigy either—a tall, commanding leader at the back to add a solid backbone to an invertebrate Arsenal squad.
While his name has been the object of Wenger's desires for some time, he is simply not what Arsenal need in defence, and contrary to popular belief, cannot take the Gunners that extra step to Premier League glory.
Here are 5 reasons why.
Lack of Size
A significant reason why Arsenal had trouble defending both set pieces and crosses from open play last season was their lack of size.
With a midfield that is very small in stature, tall defenders are needed to challenge target men for high balls in the box.
A perfect example of Arsenal's inability to defend such services is Andy Carroll's winner for Newcastle at the Emirates. No one was able to match his aerial prowess, and he only needed to get a touch to the ball to score.
Jagielka would not be able to solve that problem. At 5'11", he is quite small for a central defender, and though he possesses typical English grit, he cannot effectively compete with tall strikers like Carroll.
Thus, Arsenal would suffer from the same problems they have for years, whether they sign Jagielka or not. Except, if they did not sign him, they would be millions of pounds richer.
After witnessing nearly every player in the squad go down with one injury or another the past couple seasons, few would relish the sight of another player made of glass in the squad.
But Jagielka has shown recently that he quite susceptible to injury. This should serve as a major red flag to Arsenal, considering that their title hopes get derailed almost every season due to untimely injuries.
In the past couple years, the defender has picked up troublesome thigh and knee injuries, having multiple surgeries due to the latter and playing in pain with the former.
An extremely fragile and unreliable player is certainly not what Arsenal should be looking for, especially with a team that always seems to have at least one player out with a long-term injury and more fighting niggling problems.
Too Similar to Thomas Vermaelen
In an ideal defensive partnership, there is a smaller, more mobile, more agile defender who sometimes ventures forward and a tall rock at the back who holds down the fort while the smaller defender advances.
To fill the role of the former, Arsenal already have the ideal man in Belgian Thomas Vermaelen. The Gunners' problem during the last few seasons is that they do not possess a defender who can truly fill the latter role. Johan Djourou does not seem to want to use his 6'4" frame, Laurent Koscielny is a perfect fit for the smaller role, and Sebastien Squillaci should not even be on the team.
In buying Phil Jaglielka, Arsene Wenger would merely be adding another Vermaelen or Koscielny to the team, thus overloading the squad with the first type of defender and depriving it of the second.
With a short midfield, a partnership of two relatively small defenders will not win many aerial battles. And having two players who want to drift forward would leave the back line dangerously exposed to counterattacks, on which Arsenal were caught out many times this past season.
One of the criteria for any central defender that Arsenal buy this summer is experience; a proven, seasoned, leader who preferably knows the rigors of the Premier League and can be a rock from day one.
I must concede that Jagielka possesses a wealth of Premier League experience through his long tenure with Everton. However, he is not the only player of his kind available, as Gary Cahill and my preferred signing—Christopher Samba—have spent years in the top flight.
And despite their experience, those two have what Jagielka does not: youth. At 29 years old, Jagielka is nearing the end of his prime playing years, while Samba, 27 is in the middle of his, and Cahill, 25, is just entering them.
Which brings me to the last reason...
There's Better Value Elsewhere
Perhaps all of the previous reasons for Arsenal to stay away from Phil Jagielka could be overlooked. If he could be had for, say, £8 million, he might be worth a punt.
However, he represents bad value for upwards of £15 million, especially when compared with other potential acquisitions.
Christopher Samba is a player who, despite his lack of pace, would be a fantastic addition. He is the perfect antidote to the Gunners’ defensive woes and possesses all of the traits that Phil Jagielka—and Arsenal—lack. If a player like Samba could be had for a price equal to or less than that of Jagielka, it represents a much better buy.
Per Mertesacker, who is at least as good as Samba, could come for even less, and a more cultured defender like Gary Cahill is available for only a few million pounds more than Jagielka.
If Arsene is to spend good money on a defender, he must acquire one who not only possesses what Arsenal do not have in defence but represents a good value.
Phil Jagielka is neither.