Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney could be used as a left-sided centre-back in a back-three if the Gunners successfully complete the signing of Benfica left-back Nuno Tavares.
That is according to former Gunners midfielder Michael Thomas, who believes Tierney could become a third centre-back if manager Mikel Arteta opts to switch to a back-three to accommodate Tavares at left-back.
After months of chasing a new left-sided full-back, the Gunners, who face Hibernian in their first pre-season friendly in less than a week’s time, are close to finally bolstering that area of the pitch with the addition of Tavares.
The 21-year-old, who is currently in London in self-isolation after arriving from Portugal, is poised to join the north London club in a deal worth around £8million, subject to a medical being passed.
His arrival at the Emirates Stadium is not expected to see him disperse Tierney as the club’s first choice left-back, but instead providing the Scot with some healthy competition.
But with Tavares going to have to be given an opportunity to impress at some stage, Thomas believes shifting Tierney across to a central-defensive role in a back-three could be ideal.
“Right now we are expecting the announcement of Nuno Tavares from Benfica,” Thomas wrote for the Arsenal FC blog.
“I don’t know too much about Tavares to be honest, but from what I have seen and heard he’s a very exciting prospect, especially in an attacking sense.
“He is young and I can see him playing more often when Arteta switches to a back 3 and drops Tierney into the 3rd centre-back.
“Hopefully he adapts well to the league and tempo of the game.”
As well as being close to landing Tavares from Benfica, the Gunners are also hopeful of getting a deal over the line for Brighton & Hove Albion centre-back Ben White.
Arsenal have been locked in discussions with the Seagulls and remain confident that they will win the race for his signature, despite reported interest from several other Premier League clubs, including Manchester City.
Should a deal be completed, White’s arrival at the Emirates Stadium could spell the end of William Saliba’s chances of making the grade at the Emirates Stadium. However, Thomas is remaining confident that the addition of White would not mean the curtain would come down on the Frenchman’s Arsenal career.
“He (Ben White) is definitely ready to start,” Thomas continued. “If, as a club, you’re spending £50million on a centre-back, he is more than likely a player you wish to be in your starting XI.
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
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“He has displayed his qualities the last couple of seasons and is really good with the ball at his feet, which is something Arteta likes. He won’t have to get used to the league, which is also a plus.
“Despite the arrival of Ben White, I still think Saliba will have a career at Arsenal.
“The young boy has had things to deal with in his personal life which is never easy, and for him, going back to his home country and learning his trade whilst in the comfort of his home surroundings will make it easier.
“I do think he could get a shot in the first team but I’m sure Arteta has a plan for him going forward and this will all become more apparent in the near future.”