Having only just seen the close of the January Transfer Window, the one area, many feel Arsenal failed to address was the cover/competition for Kieran Tierney at left back. These concerns were there at the star of the window when Kolasinac was allowed to leave on loan and Arteta himself highlighted the area as one to be addressed. However, by the 1st February, despite many stories, now new left back had arrived, Maitland-Niles has also been loaned and top cap it all Tierney himself was injured.
Now, with Cedric Soares, deputising for the Flying Scot, we are a Hector Bellerin injury away from a real problem and the Manager has again been quoted suggesting that cover for Tierney this summer is a priority. Let’s hope that July is not too late. The problem for Arteta and Edu of course is who to entice to come in, when that individual knows he is deputy for a player who when fit is integral to Arsenal’s play and I suspect the first name on the team sheet each week. It is a similar situation that our noisy neighbours have been in for year when endeavouring to sign and understudy to Harry Kane. (Forgive the mention but it is a sensible analogy as Tierney truly is that critical.)
Yesterday I read and article, on this subject, which listed the 5 players who are favourites according to the bookies and here they are:
- Junior Firpo – 5/6
- Patrick van Aanholt – 7/4
- Ryan Bertrand – 2/1
- Jordan Amavi – 5/2
- Marcos Alonso – 7/2
Two of the five will be no surprise as van Arnholt and Bertrand were the names most linked in January. Junior Firpo was a surprise to me, particular as such a low odds favourite but I sense it is easy to link a player at Barcelona, who is not getting any football, given the Spanish Giants financial difficulties. I am not sure the young Spaniard having starred a Betis to earn a move to the Camp Nou however, would want to swap no football in Barcelona for an understudy role in North London.
I would personally discount Alonzo, as Arteta is now keen on a back four and the Spaniard, whilst an accomplished wing back is a fundamentally flawed fullback. Amavi is interesting, as he has English experience with Villa and European pedigree with Marseilles. The Frenchman is of contract in June, so arriving from France the wages would be quite low and the fact that there would be no fee might appeal to Arsenal.
Ryan Bertrand is a player I have long admired, and he too is out of contact this June. However, I know he is in talks with Southampton about and extension that will include him undertaking his coaching badges with a view to moving into that side of the game when he hangs his boots up. If these talks are not fruitful then his experience and ability, despite his age make him a viable option, whilst the club assess Joel Lopez on loan.
Patrick van Aanolt is a player I admire, and he has shown he can compete in the Premier League and I would be very comfortable with the Dutch International arriving to offer rotation for Tierney. The Palace player defends competently but whilst not our first-choice player’s level, he also adds considerable value in attack.
Having considered the five favourites in the betting I wanted to throw in a potential candidate if my own to the mix. Bournemouth’s Spanish left back, Sergio Rico, impressed me last season in the Premier League and so fat in this first mixed campaign in the Championship he has assisted on three occasions from left back. Chatting to my Bournemouth blogging colleague, Steve Jenkins @TheSouthEnd he praises Rico’s fabulous left foot, whilst admitting frustrations at the Spaniard’s inconsistency. When pressed on this frustration however, Steve, did say he Rico always performed against the better teams but could switch off against inferior opposition. Whilst this is a concern it might also suggest the player knows want to be back playing at the top level.
What I recall from last season was he sweet accuracy of his left foot on crosses and set players, the first of which Arsenal sorely miss when Tierney cannot play. We are not going to get an understudy as good as Kieran, but we should look for cover with similar strengths, so our playing style and rhythm is not disrupted. Cedric is a proficient full back but his attacking influence on his wring foot has sorely affect the balance of our attacking play. Indeed Callum Wilson, a main beneficiary of Rico’s l delivery described the Spaniard’s left foot as a wand.
Defensively Rico, obviously was called upon to defend a lot in 2019/20, and whilst ultimately this was in a lost cause, as Eddie Howe’s Cherries could not avoid the drop, Rico interestingly has amongst the most interceptions of any defender in the Premier League. This is a stat I would always associate with an intelligent player who can read the game well, another attribute Arteta would I assume look for in a defender.
The left foot delivery and his defensive work are well represented in the video below:
Just another name to throw into the mix that might be sensible business for Arsenal, who will not want to second big on a squad player. Diego Rico in June enters the last year if his deal and If Bournemouth are not in the mx for promotion, which look less likely, the Spaniard at only 28 will be a highly sellable asset. The player has well over 200 La Liga and Premier League matches under his belt and may well be willing to make a move to be a rotational and cup player at a huge club like Arsenal. Rico would only cost around £5-8 million, which is sensible outlay for an experienced understudy, to a player, who I hope will be Arsenal’s first choice left back for years to come.
Just a thought ……
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.