Arsenal are hoping to add up to three new centre backs to their squad this summer as they aim for a complete defensive makeover following a humbling season.
Reports coming out of Germany on Wednesday suggested that Arsenal were close to completing a move for Borussia Dortmund’s Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, but he alone will not be enough to fix the Gunners’ defensive worries.
The 51 goals Arsenal conceded in 2017/18 was their worst record since the 1980s and contributed to the Gunners’ 6th place finish, resulting in Arsene Wenger’s departure.
Per Mertesacker has retired, Laurent Koscielny will be out until November with an ankle injury and Shkodran Mustafi consistently proved himself unreliable. Callum Chambers and Konstantinos Mavropanos are too inexperienced to take over at the heart of the defence.
The Mirror reports that Arsenal will target a trio of new defenders, starting with Sokratis. The Greek will cost around £15m and Arsenal’s head of recruitment Sven Mislintat knows him well, which should make the move fairly easy to complete.
Other targets include West Brom’s Jonny Evans, who will only cost around £3m following the Baggies’ relegation, and Freiburg’s Turkish centre back Caglar Soyuncu.
Ajax’s bright young Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt has also been consistently linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium but may end up at their North London rivals Tottenham, who want him to replace Toby Alderweireld if and when the Belgian leaves.
Arsenal’s poor defensive record also owes something to the lacklustre performances of Petr Cech, and with the Czech keeper getting on in years the Gunners might look to reinforce that area as well.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno is their first choice, but they face competition from Atletico Madrid.