Hakimi signs, Saliba decision – Arsenal defenders after Mikel Arteta and Edu transfer masterclass


Arsenal are undoubtedly in the market looking to strengthen their first team squad this summer.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has already identified the players he wants to bring in, with some more realistic than others where finances are concerned.

Martin Odegaard is the first name on the list after his impressive performances in midfield since joining from Real Madrid on loan.

But the defence represents another key area that Arteta wants to bolster this summer.

David Luiz’s contract will expire in June and players such as William Saliba and Dinos Mavropanos are returning from their respective loan spells.

football.london analyses the key decisions that Arteta faces in defence ahead of next season, what he’s likely to do in the transfer market and which players could be set for regular first team football very soon.

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Big decisions

The first dilemma on Arteta’s hands this summer will be regarding the loanees, who are set to return to the club for pre-season.

William Saliba has thoroughly impressed whilst on loan at French side Nice and was named the club’s Player of the Month for January.

At 19-years-old, he is not a ready made, refined centre back who will slot into the team without the risk of making mistakes – but he clearly possesses an abundance of talent and warrants taking a look at over pre-season.

Dinos Mavropanos meanwhile, recently won his first cap for the Greece national team and has become a mainstay in Stuttgart’s defence this season.

The talented 23-year-old defender was recently praised by Stuttgart sporting director Sven Mislintat, who initially signed him for Arsenal, as ‘one of the fastest centre backs’ in the Bundesliga.

Konstantinos Mavropanos could help Arsenal save millions this summer. (Image: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

He has a considerable age gap on Saliba, more experience and also has the advantage of already featuring in the Premier League.

It would make plenty of sense to give Mavropanos an opportunity next season, but it is entirely dependent on how Arteta and technical director Edu see him in their plans.

Big signings

22-year-old Achraf Hakimi is a Moroccan right-back currently plying his trade in Italy for Serie A giants Inter.

The defender has been linked with a whole host of top European clubs including Arsenal, who are likely to be in the market for a right-back this summer.

Any move would be dependent on the future whereabouts of Hector Bellerin, with the Spaniard linked with a possible return to Barcelona or a big money move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Inter Milan starlet Achraf Hakimi has been linked with a move to the Premier League. (Image: Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images).

football.london understands that Bellerin is open to leaving Arsenal this summer if the ideal opportunity arises.

Arsenal are also in the market for a left-back to compete with Kieran Tierney, although the profile of player the Gunners are looking for is an up-and-coming youngster who will be the Scot’s understudy.

New system

Arteta has already mentioned that he sees Arsenal moving to a 4-3-3 formation in the long-term.

He admitted at the turn of the year that he is ‘five or six players’ away from being able to deploy that formation.

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With Odegaard, Hakimi and a possible replacement for Alexandre Lacazette this summer, the Spaniard will be half way there to completing his ideal Arsenal squad.

The 39-year-old is happy with the spine of his team from Bernd Leno, Gabriel and Thomas Partey, to the likes of Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

However, there are areas in defence where the manager is looking to specifically strengthen, which is why it wouldn’t be a surprise to see wholesale changes across the squad this summer.





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