Arsenal Transfer Rumors: Gunners Linked with Moves for Lugano and Yobo
Last season, Arsenal went through the entire campaign with just three central defenders. Per Mertesacker played 52 games, Laurent Koscielny played 49 games and the captain, Thomas Vermaelen, managed just 21 appearances, largely due to his injury layoffs. Luckily for the Gunners, both Koscielny and Mertesacker didn’t have any major injuries but their fatigue going into the new campaign was a concern bearing in mind that both players featured in the World Cup. While Koscielny and compatriots left Brazil at the quarterfinal stage, Mertesacker and his teammates went all the way to the final, beating Argentina to seal a victory for Germany.
As the new season began, Arsenal made some signings in various positions but the writing was on the wall when Vermaelen wasn’t involved in some preseason action. Even Arsene Wenger himself shared his thoughts in regard to Vermaelen’s situation,
“Look, it could happen. I’ve said since the start of pre-season that Thomas could leave us because he needs to play now. He had an outstanding attitude and behaviour but he’s in a position where it’s difficult to stand in his way if he finds an interesting opportunity.”
A couple of days later, Vermaelen moved to FC Barcelona and everyone expected the Gunners to get a center back that was going to challenge Koscielny and Mertesacker for their places in the squad. Olympiakos’ youngster, Kostas Manolas, was heavily linked with a move to North London but he opted for AS Roma after they showed more interest than the Gunners. With the Gunners failing to sign any other defensive targets, they went into the new campaign with a light defense (personnel wise) and many people believed that it was going to come back to haunt them. Little did we know that it was sooner rather than later.
With Per Mertesacker given an extended break following his World Cup exertions, Calum Chambers was thrust into the thick of things right from the onset but Kieran Gibbs was the first defender to suffer an injury in the opening Premier League encounter against Crystal Palace. A few games later, Koscielny suffered a gashed head and struggled through out the game against Leicester before he was removed.
Last weekend, Matt Debuchy injured himself and the fans have been fearing for the worst. The defender has confirmed that there’s no fracture (thank goodness) but he also stated that he has ‘broken’ a ligament in his ankle and he’d have to wait on the medical staff to know whether he’s gonna require surgery or not.
Shortly afterwards, it was Nacho Monreal’s turn to suffer a back injury, which compounds Arsenal’s woes at the back. As it stands, Arseanal has just three fit senior defenders in Gibbs, Koscielny and Mertesacker and they’re are two able young deputies in the forms of Chambers and Hector Bellerin waiting to get a chance to strut their stuff.
With the transfer window shut, Arsenal can’t delve into their cheque books to sign till January at least, but there is a stop-gap option, which is signing a player on a free transfer. Per the rule book, Premier League clubs can still sign free agents despite the transfer window closing on September 1, 2014.
The Daily Mail reports that Arsenal is considering making an offer for the veteran Uruguayan defender, Diego Lugano (33). The former Uruguay captain has been playing active football for the past 15 years, beginning his career in Nacional (Uruguay) and Sao Paulo before making the bold move across the Atlantic to Europe. After spending five seasons with Fenerbahce, Lugano moved to PSG and played for a couple of seasons before moving to SC Malaga on loan and finally, spending a campaign with West Brom.
Since he was released by West Brom in the summer, Lugano has been without a club and of course, he’d jump at an opportunity to return to the Premier League in a club as ambitious as Arsenal. He would probably know that he’d occupy the Pascal Cygan / Mikael Silvestre / Sebastien Squillaci type of role and I’m sure he’d put in a good shift when he’s summoned. Lugano is a big commanding center back that’s very good in the air but the only challenge he might have is his declining pace but with a player like Mertesacker that’s in the same category, he’d feel right at home.
The Gunners have also been linked with a move for another Premier League stalwart, Joseph Yobo (34). The Nigerian defender began his European adventure with Standard Liege before switching to Olympique Marseille in 2001. Yobo’s stint at Marseille was brief and he made a move to Premier League outfit, Everton, where he made a name for himself. Yobo became one of the most consistent players in the Everton squad, and was one of only seven players in the entire league to play every minute of every game throughout the 2006/07 season.
In 2006, Yobo was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, and with those rumors in mind, he actually delayed signing a new contract with the club. With Arsenal refuting the claims to sign him, Yobo extended his stay in Merseyside and continued to feature consistently before losing his place in the first team to the likes of Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Sylvian Distin. After a couple of loan spells at Fenerbahce, Yobo sealed a permanent move and shortly afterwards, he had a brief stint with Norwich City.
Yobo is a player with vast experience of playing in the Premier League having amassed 267 games in his 10 years at Everton. However, age is on his side, his form is on the wane and his performance in the World Cup with Nigeria was bittersweet. His final game for his country was in the Round of 16 fixture against France were he conceded an epic own goal following a mix-up with his goalie, Vincent Enyeama. He’s currently Nigeria’s most-capped player with 101 appearances.
Signing one of them (or both) would be good for the team’s defensive depth because the Gunners are shockingly light at the back. With Debuchy out injured, I see Chambers and Bellerin battling for his position which would mean that the central defensive combo of Koscielny and Mertesacker won’t have the cover they need.
Who knows if Lugano and / or Yobo would be the answer.
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