The Premier League season has yet to start and the injuries are already lining up for Arsenal.
The most recent victim is center-back Laurent Koscielny, who limped out of training today a mere one day after injury ruled goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny out of Monday night’s friendly in Nagoya.
Koscielny left Sunday’s training with what appeared to be a right ankle problem. While Arsenal have not revealed the severity of Koscielny’s injury, it does not appear to be one with long term effects. Nevertheless, the French international is expected to join Szczesny on the sidelines for tomorrow night’s match.
With Koscielny’s injury, Arsenal are left with only one experienced center-back in Per Mertesacker. Thomas Vermaelen is out for up to three months with a back injury while Johan Djourou has been sent to Hamburg on a season-long loan.
The defensive situation at Arsenal grows more complicated when the injury to Nacho Monreal is factored in. The Spanish left-back, who is the back up to starter Kieran Gibbs, is also injured and will reportedly be out through October.
In short, Arsenal is getting quite thin in the back and the situation could prompt Arsene Wenger to make a move in the transfer market. While a move for Swansea City center-back Ashley Williams has been rumored for months (years?) to be headed to the Emirates.
The problem with Williams is two fold.
First, the Swans are said to want $15.3 million (£10m) for Williams’ services, a price which is a bit rich for a 28 year old center-back who has zero experience in Europe.
Second, if Arsenal are to buy a defender, flexibility is key. Williams, while very solid at the center-back position, is not versatile enough to play as an outside back. This is a quality that both Koscielny and Vermaelen possess, and one that Wenger is likely to search for in any new addition to his back line.
The answer could be Brazilian utility man Luis Gustavo, who Arsenal are rumored to have interest. Typically deployed as a defensive midfielder, Gustavo is versatile enough to play as a center-back and full-back as well. For a proposed transfer fee of $23 million (£15m), Gustavo could be the perfect answer for the Gunners defensive issues.