Arsenal have been linked with 22-year-old Freiburg defender Çağlar Söyüncü, as manager Unai Emery’s rebuilding job at the Emirates gathers pace.
Talking on the Transfer Talk podcast, Sky Sports News reporter Dharmash Sheth said: “There is talk of Çağlar from Freiburg. There is an interest from Arsenal in that player.”
Emery clearly believes that the Gunners’ defence is in dire need of reinforcements – hence the arrivals of Switzerland full back Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus, and of Greece centre back Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund. Both players are highly experienced internationals.
However, Emery’s reported interest in Söyüncü seems to show that he recognises the need to balance youth with experience – both Lichtsteiner and Papastathopoulos are the ‘wrong’ side of 30 years of age from a footballer’s point of view.
Although considerably less experienced than either the Swiss or the Greek, Söyüncü is no rookie – he has made 50 Bundesliga appearances for Freiburg and has been capped 15 times for Turkey since 2016.
Emery’s desire to strengthen his back line is understandable – the Gunners conceded a staggering 51 Premier League goals last season. This was comfortably the worst defensive record in the top seven, as Arsenal conceded 24 more league goals than champions Manchester City.
The Gunners have also recruited a new goalkeeper – Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno has joined Arsenal for £20m. This may cast doubt on Petr Čech and David Ospina’s future at the Emirates – neither goalkeeper was entirely convincing last season, and Čech is 36 years old.
Gunners fans will no doubt applaud their new manager’s evident determination to tighten Arsenal’s porous defence. Nevertheless, some of them may question the wisdom of recruiting Söyüncü – a defender whose Freiburg side shipped 56 Bundesliga goals and narrowly avoided relegation last season.
They may also suspect that Lichtsteiner and Papastathopoulos are some way past their best.