Here are 4 reasonably-priced options at center-back for William Saliba
Arsenal‘s center-back situation is an absolute mess. They currently have 8 players on the books, and yet due to injuries and lack of talent, they continue to search for the future of the position, something they believe does not currently reside at the club.
William Saliba was the first step towards accomplishing that goal, but we have a ways to go. Arsenal have dreamt of Dayot Upamecano for a number of years, and he fits the bill as a potential savior of the backline. But barring a miracle, Arsenal does not have the finances to support that move. So we must look elsewhere.
There are a couple of necessary criteria for a partner for William Saliba. He must be a reasonable age—anybody over 27 is going to be a hard sell for a Gunners side planning for the future. He must be inexpensive—£25 million or below seems a reasonable demand, the same as we paid for Saliba, especially in a buyers market such as this. Furthermore, any center-back we do sign would have to be bought with funds raised by offloading unwanted defenders, and £25 million seems about right.
Most importantly, he must be left-footed, whether to play on the left in a back-three or a back-four. Of Arsenal’s eight central defenders, only Pablo Mari is left-footed, and despite his long-term deal, he has not been convincing in his limited time this season.
With those criteria in mind, let’s move into the list.
4. Mario Hermoso
The 25-year-old has played fourth fiddle in Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid system this season, despite moving to the Wanda Metropolitano for £22 million the last summer. Hermoso has reportedly been told that’s he’s not indispensable, with Inter apparently interested in a move very similar to the fee paid by Atleti.
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Arsenal were first linked to Hermoso when he was 22, and plying his trade at Real Espanyol. And in the three years since, he has continued to demonstrate the same impressive skills.
The Spaniard center-back is composed and very patient. He rarely lunges into tackles or goes to ground, instead preferring to track and follow his opponents, often reading movements with inch-perfect precision.
He does have a tendency to use his arms when defending, which gives him a penchant for a yellow, especially in Spain, where diving is more of an art form than a regular act. But he’s also strong, and at just a hair over 6’0″, can deal with balls in the air and on the ground.
Arguably his best skill is his ability in possession, something that will endear him to Mikel Arteta. He is exceedingly skilled on the ball, with a good variety of foot skills and an excellent range of passing mixed in with his aforementioned composure. He would be an excellent replacement for Pablo Mari and Sead Kolasinac, both of whom have shown their limitations on the ball.
He has his issues—top-end speed for a start, and he doesn’t step out as often as I’d like, but there’s a chance we can get him for around £20 million, and it’s a chance I’d take. On to number 3, who has taken the Bundesliga by storm during the restart.