Saturday, October 31, 2020

Stones to Arsenal off, Kurzawa on?

Despite initial reports claiming that Arsenal were considering a move for Manchester City’s John Stones, Mikel Arteta has been quick to rubbish those rumours in his recent press conference. But according to fresh reports, the Gunners boss may have his eye on another defender who knows what it’s like to play for a dominant, championship-winning side.

There was talk of the 25-year-old England international being set for a reunion with Arteta, with Arsenal’s defensive woes hit by further injuries to Calum Chambers and Sead Kolasinac since the Spaniard’s arrival. The centre-back pairing of Sokratis and David Luiz have impressed in recent weeks, but with Shkodran Mustafi out of favour and Dinos Mavropanos joining Bundesliga 2 side Nurnberg on loan, the Gunners would do well to obtain defensive reinforcements for the remainder of the season.

However when asked about the truthfulness regarding Stones, Arteta simply smiled and replied: “Nope. No truth at all.”

For me, a six-month loan deal for either Stones or Jerome Boateng wouldn’t have been the worst bit of business in the world. Both are out of favour at their respective clubs and could have brought a winning mentality to the squad. Especially with Chambers out for the season and Rob Holding’s fitness never a guarantee, an experienced centre-back seemed like a top target for Arsenal. If the Gunners fail to address this issue, and one of Luiz or Sokratis succumb to an injury, that could certainly spell danger.

Speaking of absentees, the left-back position is another area of significant concern for Arteta, with Kolasinac set to miss Saturday’s clash with Sheffield United. Kieran Tierney is already out for another three months, meaning the only viable candidates to fill that empty role would be Bukayo Saka or Granit Xhaka, neither of whom are competent full-backs by trade. While Saka has proven useful there when needed, his attacking capabilities far outweigh his defensive skills. But the main man himself David Ornstein confirmed earlier this afternoon that Arsenal are in negotiations to sign PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa.

Arsenal keen to get things tied up

The Frenchman is out of contract with the Ligue 1 Champions in the summer, but Arsenal are apparently keen to tie up a deal imminently. “Don” Raul Sanhelli is leading the way in negotiations for Arsenal, who are mainly considering loans and free transfers in this window.

27-year-old Kurzawa has fallen firmly behind Juan Bernat in the PSG pecking order this season, having only played 11 games (five as a substitute) in the league this term. According to WhoScored, he has averaged a 6.70 rating this season, his best performance coming in the 5-0 thrashing of Galatasaray in the Champions League, where he found himself on the right-hand side of defence.

Having won three league titles as well as three Coupe de France triumphs during his time at PSG, Kurzawa is certainly a player who knows what it’s like to be a champion. That being said, other aspects of his game have come into question.

My earliest memory of Kurzawa was his foolish antics during France’s Euro U21 game against Sweden in 2015, where he celebrated a goal by saluting in the Swedish players’ faces, before the Nordic country went on to eliminate them only a few minutes later and Kurzawa received a taste of his own medicine. Of course, he’s grown up since then and could bring a much-needed wealth of experience and defensive cover to this Arsenal side, but only if the conditions are right.

A loan deal until the end of the season seems the most viable option for me, but his cut-price tag may entice the powers at Arsenal to sign him permanently, potentially leaving the door open for Kolasinac’s exit. A shame really, seeing as the Bosnian has shown vast signs of improvement this season. Tierney’s development has to be a key priority however, assuming he can steer clear of any more serious injuries when he is fully fit again. Kurzawa for the short-term would be ideal, but a permanent deal could throw a few more issues into the equation.

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