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Arsenal Transfer News: Stephan Lichtsteiner Free Transfer Rumoured

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2018

BENEVENTO, ITALY - APRIL 07: Stephan Lichtsteiner of Juventus in action during the serie A match between Benevento Calcio and Juventus at Stadio Ciro Vigorito on April 7, 2018 in Benevento, Italy.  (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Arsenal are "working" on signing Juventus wing-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer this summer, according to BBC Sport's David Ornstein:

David Ornstein @bbcsport_david

Arsenal are working on a deal to sign Switzerland right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer when the 34-year-old’s Juventus contract expires this summer. Lichtsteiner a long-term target who #AFC see adding experience/leadership to head coach Unai Emery’s squad #Juve #SUI

The Guardian's Fabrizio Romano confirmed talks have taken place between the player and the Gunners.

Lichtsteiner will be leaving the Bianconeri this summer, and the veteran would make an ideal second choice behind Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard is a gifted yet inconsistent right-back, who has struggled somewhat in recent seasons.

A lack of competition may be the reason for Bellerin's struggles, with Mathieu Debuchy not making the grade before leaving the Gunners in the January transfer window. An ever-present, whether Arsenal have played 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-2-1 formations, Bellerin hasn't been under enough pressure to improve.

Pressure would surely be applied by Lichtsteiner, who has been a key player for both Juve and the Switzerland national team over the years. Like Bellerin, he can thrive as both a wing-back or a traditional full-back.

Bellerin needs some competition.
Bellerin needs some competition.Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Such flexibility would surely appeal to Arsenal's new head coach Unai Emery. The 46-year-old loves his full-backs to push high and be essential parts of his team's efforts going forward.

Raiding full-backs were mentioned by Julien Laurens of BBC Sport as essential to the approach of former Paris Saint-Germain boss Emery:

"His first game at PSG was the 2016 Trophee des Champions - the French Community Shield - against Lyon and they won 4-1. PSG played with an intensity like they never had before. It looked like his philosophy - pressing high, running a lot, attacking a lot, defending a lot, full backs bombing forward."

"Bombing forward" has been a feature of Lichtsteiner's game throughout his career. His pace, energy and direct running were major assets when Antonio Conte managed Juve in a 3-4-3 formation.

New Arsenal head coach Emery loves his full-backs to push high up the pitch.
New Arsenal head coach Emery loves his full-backs to push high up the pitch.David Vincent/Associated Press

While Lichtsteiner hasn't been as much of a factor since Massimiliano Allegri replaced Conte and returned Juve to a back four. Yet Lichtsteiner remains a tenacious and experienced winner at the highest level, one with the right temperament to succeed in England's Premier League.

Emery could make use of him in much the same way he rotated Coke and Mariano on the right for Sevilla during the 2015/16 season. The pair tormented Liverpool in the final of the UEFA Europa League the same year, with Mariano creating an equalising goal before Coke scored twice in a 3-1 win.

Juve may well be preparing for Lichtsteiner's departure, with Romano detailing how one player, who could be a possible replacement, is being lined up for a move to Turin:

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Matteo #Darmian is close to #Juventus from Manchester United! Advanced talks 🇮🇹 #MUFC #transfers

If Arsenal can complete this deal, it would be a smart start to a needed summer rebuild on Emery's watch. The club's budget is limited, even though Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph has reported majority owner Stan Kroenke intends to give Emery an extra £20 million for signings.

It would be unwise for the Gunners to spend a chunk of their transfer kitty on a player only likely to be a backup for Bellerin.

Instead, Lichtsteiner, who would join up with international teammate Granit Xhaka if he moved to Arsenal, would be a useful solution to a tricky problem for a club needing to be selective with its spending during this window.

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