Three centre-backs Arsenal should target in January

Arsenal are looking for a new centre-back in January as we look at the three realistic options for Mikel Arteta to consider.

The January transfer window is wide open but yet to kick into top gear, as clubs will quickly look for favourable deals to strengthen their squads. The issue here is the need for more turnaround time for negotiations and agreeing terms.

January has always been a tricky window, but those clubs who tend to achieve their targets get favourable results at the end of the season. Arsenal, for their part, are expected to remain active on multiple fronts as Mikel Arteta looks for solutions to strengthen his squad.

For many months now, a midfielder and striker were considered top priorities for the Spanish manager. Still, as the January transfer window edged closer, a centre-back became the subject of importance. Arsenal has two solid centre defenders on whom Arteta has heavily relied.

Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba have luckily kept their fitness levels intact despite playing the majority of the games in all competitions. Arsenal have already experienced the consequences of losing one of them for long periods in their unsuccessful title challenge last season, and Arteta does not want a repeat of that situation.

The Gunners are primed to compete in all three of the remaining competitions they are a part of, and the French-Brazilian duo will have a significant role to play. Hence, losing one will cause distress within the Arsenal camp, and this is an area Arteta wants solid cover for.

More importantly, he wants a player who can take the burden off these stars in games with regularity so as to help Arteta keep rotating his options. For instance, Jakub Kiwior’s arrival last January did not help in that aspect, as the Pole only played games right at the end of the campaign.

There are chances Kiwior could leave, and irrespective of that outcome, Arsenal need a central defender who can also have versatile qualities. The Gunners must also mind their finances before making a firm decision on transfer targets.

Hence, considering some of the factors involved, we have chosen three options Arteta can consider, which are realistically possible in January. If they manage to bring in one of these, then the Arsenal boss can consider his defence shored up and ready for the challenge ahead in the second part of the season.

Ousmane Diomande

This is the long-shot target on this list, but it is still a possibility by all means. Ousmane Diomande has made a name for himself since joining Sporting CP last January. The Gunners held an interest in the summer, with the Portuguese side even knocking back a reported €35 million bid from the north Londoners.

There’s undoubtedly definitely considerable interest from Arsenal, who are considering a big approach next summer. But taking into account their immediate need for one centre-back in January, they can accelerate their pursuit. As per reports, Diomande is in no rush to leave Sporting amid considerable interest from him from elsewhere.

Chelsea are also very keen, but Arsenal are in a prominent position to offer him Champions League football and a realistic chance at title shots on multiple fronts. The big issue with Diomande is his reported €80 million release clause. But Sporting have previously shown they are open to deals even if the opposite party wants adjustments made.

Last January, Tottenham brokered a loan deal with an obligation clause for Pedro Porro, and Arsenal need to be in a better financial position to pay up Diomande’s release clause. Hence, they can take a book out of Spurs’ book and try to crack a deal with the Portuguese side for the Ivorian defender.

Goncalo Inacio

Another one of Sporting CP’s rising defensive stars, Goncalo Inacio, has made a name for himself with the club with some solid performances. His relatively modest €60 million clause seems very much like an attractive figure for many top clubs chasing his signature, as there could be movements in January.

Chelsea, Real Madrid and Liverpool are keen, but so are Arsenal, who are keen to put a firm foot in the race for the left-footed centre-back. In terms of his profile, the other suitors are much more inclined to find a player of his type. But the Gunners have reportedly made headway as per recent reports.

Arsenal are reportedly considering a loan-to-buy offer for Sporting CP to ponder over, which is in line with what Spurs did last January for Pedro Porro. It’s a favourable deal for all parties concerned, especially the Gunners, who are close to having FFP problems.

Inacio solves a lot of problems for Arsenal with his versatile profile, with the Portuguese international also capable of playing as an auxiliary left-back if needed. Arteta has preferred to play centre-backs in those full-back roles, which could suit his career as well.

Moreover, he can act as a cover or competition for Gabriel in games and also allow Arsenal to find a realistic solution for Jakub Kiwior in the market. If they can broker a deal with Sporting for Inacio, this could have a meaningful impact on their season ahead.

Piero Hincapie

He is the most underrated name on this list, as Hincapie has slowly gathered a good reputation for his performances for Bayer Leverkusen and Ecuador. The tall defender, often favouring a centre-back role, has played many games as a left-back, on the left side of a back three or even as a left wing-back.

Hence, there is the versatility quotient with the Ecuadorian, who Liverpool also want. The significant factor for a move in January would be his diminished role under Xabi Alonso and his title-chasing Leverkusen side. There is a big chance for clubs to broker a deal with the Bundesliga leaders to find a way to sign the centre-back.

He has the physical presence and the mind to adapt to new strategies. One may find an issue in his inability to break properly into Alonso’s plan. But for Arsenal, he can act as a solid backup in their system. Leverkusen have previously demanded a significant sum for the young defender. But the Gunners have good relations with the club to help broker a favourable deal.

They can even ponder a loan with a buy option at the end of the season, something the Gunners will look favourably at. With such a deal, Arsenal can even work out ways to sign more players in different positions like midfield or centre-forward. However, a central defender remains Arteta’s topmost priority in January.

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