Arsenal are expecting to be very busy in the transfer window this summer, with centre back being an area where there is projected to be a lot of activity.
Going into the start of the season the Gunners had a whopping nine senior centre backs on their books.
Although Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi have left the club permanently since then Mikel Arteta has previously stated that he only wants “four or five” which means that some tricky decisions will have to be made come the summer.
As things stand David Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Gabriel and Pablo Mari are at the club, but with several promising youngsters including William Saliba and Dinos Mavropanos set to return to North London, some players are going to have to leave.
With that in mind football.london has taken a look at all the centre backs currently on Arsenal’s roster and decided whether the Gunners should be looking to keep, loan or sell them.
A nice easy one to kick us off, Gabriel is a definite stay.
The Brazilian has been a revelation since coming on from Lille in the summer and has recovered from a dip in form over Christmas to begin to show some of the form that saw him win three consecutive player of the month awards immediately after signing.
At the age of just 23, he is set to be a fixture in the Arsenal back line for years to come. Keep
This is another pretty easy one.
Not many people knew much about Pablo Mari going into this season after the Spaniard managed just three senior appearances for Arsenal before a mixture of the COVID lockdown and a long term ankle injury ruled him out till the end of 2020.
Since then though the 27-year-old has proved himself to be a reliable option at the back for the Gunners with his composure on the ball and ability in the air. Keep.
Many thought Rob Holding’s time at Arsenal was up at the start of the season when he was heavily linked with a move to Newcastle.
But after being convinced to stay by Mikel Arteta the former Bolton man has gone on to finally been given an extended run in the side that injuries had robbed him of in the past.
There is an argument that he has been the Gunners best defender this season and after signing a contract extension in January he is nailed on to stay beyond the summer. Keep.
This is where things start to get a little bit more difficult.
William Saliba was expected to have a breakthrough year with Arsenal this season after coming back from his loan spell at St. Etienne but was deemed unready by Arteta and sent out on loan to Nice having failed to make a single senior appearance for his parent club.
The Frenchman has put together a fine run of games back in Ligue 1 and demonstrated once more why the Gunners paid so much money to bring him in at just 18-years-of-age.
Now technically two years into his time as an Arsenal player you would have to think that if he isn’t kept to be a part of the squad next season, then it’s possible that he may never be. Keep.
This again is not an easy call by any stretch of the imagination.
David Luiz has unexpectedly become one of the most important leaders in the Arsenal dressing room since his arrival last season, and his influence on youngsters such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli coming into the senior side has been crucial.
He also produced some of the most consistent defensive displays of his career and has been important to helping build the ball out from the back.
That said though, the Brazilian will be 34 at the end of the season, and in recent matches against Olympiacos and West Ham he has shown once again that it is a matter of when rather than if he makes a key individual error.
He is a favourite of Arteta so it would be with a heavy heart, but with some of the young talent coming through on this list, it is probably time to part ways. Sell.
Dinos Mavropanos is something of a forgotten man within the Arsenal side.
He impressed after being brought into the club in January 2018, but after a string of injuries ruled him out for nearly a year, the Greek defender moved on loan to Germany, first with Nuremberg and then with Stuttgart.
In both spells he has shown his ability, with former Gunners head of recruitment Sven Mislintat describing him as one of the fastest defenders in the Bundesliga.
He has impressive versatility with an ability to play anywhere across the back line in a three or a four and at just 23-years-of-age has the potential to become even better.
football.london understands that his good form is going to earn him the right to come back and fight for his place in pre-season.
But at such a crucial age Mavropanos surely needs to be playing regularly. With four centre backs potentially ahead of him in the pecking order at the Emriates that might not be something Arsenal can guarantee him.
He is clearly talented though and with two years remaining on his current deal, finding another loan for him next season perhaps in the Premier League might be a good option to ensure the Gunners can protect his value. Loan.
This is probably one of the toughest on this list.
If it had been a few weeks ago Chambers would probably have been a reluctant sell. An ACL injury just as Mikel Arteta arrived had stopped him during his best extended run at centre back in the Arsenal team since he signed from Southampton in 2014, and it seemed moving on might be best for all parties.
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But in recent weeks the England international has shown his worth at right back with outstanding displays against Burnley and West Ham. That versatility may prove invaluable if the Gunners end up competing on four fronts next season.
At the age of 26 and with just one year remaining on his contract at the end of the season it might be a tough sell to convince him stay as back up.
But if Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles end up leaving, his ability to play in multiple positions could save Arsenal millions in the summer that could be used to fund important deals like the permanent purchase of Martin Odegaard. Keep.