Arsenal are interested in bringing long-term target Kostas Manolas to the Emirates stadium this summer according to the Telegraph, the 24 year old Greek international was considered a target by Arsenal two years ago but were priced out of any deal, baulking at Olympiacos’ asking price.
Since moving to Roma in 2014, Manolas has excelled and become a very important member of the team, his performances have gained great attention around Europe and it is believed if Arsenal want to seal this transfer they’d have a big battle on their hands as Chelsea are also very interested.
New head coach Antonio Conte has reportedly already sounded out Manolas’s agent over a potential summer move after being impressed with the Serie A player, but Arsenal have since revived there interest in the 24 year old central defender and will have the advantage of likely being able to offer him Champions League football next year.
Daily Mirror correspondent John Cross has also confirmed Arsenal’s interest in Manolas, he suggests that Manolas was a top transfer target for Arsenal in 2014 but the Gunners staggered and stopped all negotiations after Olympiacos’ valued the central defender at £12 million.
Manolas, who has been very impressive at Roma has now become one of the top centre-backs in Europe and the Gunners know they’d have to pay a lot more than the £12 million they refused to pay in 2014.
As well as Chelsea and Arsenal, it is also rumoured Everton are interested in Manolas as it is likely they will lose John Stones this summer.
It is reported that Arsenal are looking to strengthen their core of the team after only signing Petr Cech last summer. Kostas Manolas appears to be their number one defensive target, with Morata and Xhaka also potential targets to help rebuild the team this summer.
Arsene Wenger has been under huge pressure this season after his team fell 11 points behind current leaders Leicester City. For many years fans and ex-players have said Arsenal need to rebuild their core and it seems as if Wenger has now lost trust with players. Vice-Captain Per Mertesacker has lost his place in the starting 11 to Gabriel Paulista after somewhat a disappointing season and according to the Independent the Gunners aren’t looking to extend his contract this summer when his deal runs out in 2017.
So how does Manolas compare with Arsenal’s current crop of centre backs, will he be a major improvement on Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista?
A stat that really impresses me is the amount of tackles won by Manolas, he scores a very impressive 1.44, Gabriel is just behind on 1.32, Mertesacker in third with 1.14 and Koscielny last with 0.89, that would be a huge boost for the Gunners especially as they’ve lacked so badly defensively this season, the Premier League is one of the toughest leagues in the world. Koscielny scores a very impressive 2.76 with the amount of aerial duels he has won, Manolas is just behind on 2.67 which is once again very good, Gabriel is third on 2.64 and Mertesacker last with 2.23. Being a defender you have to position yourself perfectly if it means nicking the ball or breaking up play, block are also key as it can then help the team get forward or even better stop the keeper having to make a save, Manolas and Koscielny are joint top with blocks scoring 0.81 each, Gabriel is second on 0.79 and Mertesacker considerably behind with 0.45.
Defensive errors could be a concern for the Gunners, although he doesn’t score too highly he still scores 0.11 which is second with Gabriel first on 0.13, although it’s not a drastic amount or something that would stop the Gunners signing him it could still be a concern. Mertesacker has seemed to be a liability for the Gunners at times this season but he scores 71.30% for total duels won, Gabriel is second with 61.74%, Manolas closely behind on 60.16% and Koscielny last on 54.50%. Interceptions are also key for a defender, Koscielny scores a massively high score of 3.98 with Gabriel in second on 3.37, Manolas is third and quite a way behind on 2.07 with Mertesacker again last on 1.54.
In summary, Manolas would certainly give great competition to Gabriel and Koscielny whilst it looks like Mertesacker is being sounded out of the team, there is clear interest from Arsenal but to land their man they must be willing to pay the asking price this time. At just 24 years old he can only get better and look to be the long term replacement for Mertesacker.