Arsenal’s search for a defender is reaching desperation stage after their humiliating defeat at home to Liverpool. Although they dragged it back to a more respectable 4-3 score-line, their defensive woes were there for all to see during a twenty minute period at the start of the second half. They had been rumoured to be in talks with Valencia over Shkodran Mustafi, but the deal isn’t progressing as quickly as first hoped.
The Daily Mail are reporting that the club have now turned their attentions to Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez, who would cost more than Mustafi. The Uruguayan international has a rumoured price tag of £40 million, but he is seen as one of the best young defenders in the world. At 21 years of age, he has a huge future and would be a great investment for Arsenal.
Although the fee looks to be high for a defender, when you compare it with the fees paid for Eric Bailly (£30 million) and John Stones (£47.5 million), it would represent a relative bargain. Gimenez is already better than both, despite being younger. It is difficult to compare fees due to the different forces controlling each deal, but as these three are all young centre backs, a comparison is justifiable.
In the report above, it states that Gimenez is open to a move to Arsenal, which may surprise some as he is already an established player at Atletico. The Spanish club has achieved a lot more than Arsenal in recent years and appears to have a brighter future as well. However, the money on offer in the Premier League will be significantly higher than in Spain.
Gimenez would be a great fit for the Premier League as he is a robust defender, who isn’t scared of a physical battle. Under Diego Simeone, he has developed into one of the best centre backs in the world and is going to continue to improve for the foreseeable future. He is excellent in the air, but is much more than just a physical enforcer. He has good pace, which allows him to recover if caught out of position. His intelligence is his best attribute as he reads the game well, which allows him to break down attacks.
The Atletico defender excels across all departments, but there are some concerns with his game. His lack of experience can cause him to be caught out of position at times and it is telling that Simeone opted for Stefan Savic in the Champions League final over Gimenez. He still makes too many errors to be considered an elite defender. That said, he is reducing the amount of errors he makes each season and at 21, he is unlikely to be the finished article.
Arsene Wenger appears to be weighing up his options in the transfer market, with his main targets being Gimenez and Mustafi. The latter actually had better stats than the former last season, with Mustafi averaging 1.7 successful tackles and 4.43 interceptions per game. Meanwhile Gimenez averaged 1.48 successful tackles and 2.48 interceptions. Mustafi’s superiority may have been due to him playing in a poor Valencia side, which struggled in a lot of games last season. As opposed to Gimenez who played in a well organised Atletico Madrid side. As a result, he was put under less individual pressure.
They are both good on the ball and capable of starting attacks from deep, which is why Arsenal are looking at them. Wenger likes his team to play the game in a specific way and this usually requires a defender who is comfortable on the ball. Both defenders would fit in well at Arsenal in this regard. In terms of the physicality of the Premier League, Gimenez would settle a lot quicker than Mustafi as he is more robust than the German.
The next few weeks are crucial for Arsenal’s season as they must bring in at least one defender. In an ideal world, they would bring in two, but given Arsenal’s struggles in the transfer market, this looks unlikely. These two look to be the club’s priority targets and both would considerably improve the first eleven at the Emirates Stadium. However, Gimenez is better suited to the physicality of the Premier League and has the potential to grow into a much better defender than Mustafi. If they can do a deal for £40 million, it would be a great move from the club.
Featured image – All rights reserved by David Guzman.