If Arsene Wenger thought he had crossed off one of his most pressing needs during this summer’s transfer window, the Arsenal manager got quite the surprise this week when Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes rejected a move to the north London club in order to stay at Bundesliga side Schalke.
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Arsenal and Schalke had perhaps even agreed a fee — Schalke are thought to want something in the neighborhood of $20-25 million — for the 27-year-old 2014 World Cup-winning center back/left back, but the Schalke academy product has decided that Schalke is still the club for him.
Howedes, on his status as a Schalke player, from Sky Sports:
“Arsenal and AC Milan were really keen on my services, but I have decided in favor of Schalke.”
Maybe Howedes just wants the chance to advance to the quarterfinals and beyond in the UEFA Champions League — something he did in consecutive seasons with Schalke in 2011 and 2012 — rather than routinely bow out in the round of 16 each season (five years in a row). Just a thought.
Wenger will probably continue his search for a first-team-caliber utility defender in the mold of Howedes, because as things stand, Arsenal currently only have Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel as full-time center backs, with Calum Chambers splitting much of his first season with the club shuttling between center back and right back.
With just eight defenders with Premier League experience on the first-team roster, Wenger has surely already turned to Plan B, C or D.