Arsenal will reportedly make a move for Bayern Munich defender Medhi Benatia in the coming week. RMC are reporting today that the Gunners have made him their number one defensive target amid speculation of a bid being made this week. Arsenal will look to make improvements on their vulnerable defence this summer and will once again return to sign Benatia who they missed out two years ago.
The report originates from Foot Mercato journalist Manu Lonjon – a reliable source and now RMC are reporting that Arsenal will place a bid this week. The 29-year-old Moroccan international will look to leave Germany this summer in a bid to regain first-team football after falling down the pecking order with Bayern. Arsenal will be boosted with their pursuit for the defender as Bayern’s new recruit Mats Hummels will certainly push him even further down the line and make him surplus to requirements which will make the decision of leaving even easier for Benatia.
Benatia has had a difficult spell since arriving at Bayern Munich in the summer of 2014, where he has only played thirty league matches in two years, he is unhappy with his role within the squad and will certainly look for a move away this summer with several other clubs interested.
Benatia has played 33 times at international level for Morocco, scoring one goal. Two other clubs heavily courting the former player of Udinese are Chelsea and Manchester United. Both teams have previously been linked with the player and with new managers Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho taking over this summer a defender of his calibre will be high on their wanted list.
The worry for Arsenal is the attachment Benatia has with former club Roma, he has not hid his love for the Italians and if they were to show an interest it does feel as if Arsenal struggle to convince Benatia that a return to Italy was not a good idea.
There have been question marks raised whether Per Mertesacker will still be at Arsenal next season after a decline in form, and Gabriel hasn’t managed to convince Arsene Wenger either. We take a look at how Benatia compares to Arsenal’s current central defenders Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista.
Gabriel, who has struggled again this season has impressed with tackles won after scoring a high score of 1.43 per 90 minutes, Benatia is second with 1.29 and Mertesacker who has also failed to nail down starting place last with 1.06. The Gunners are known to be weak at the back and especially with aerial duels, they have once again been frail in the air this season. Mertesacker who stands way over 6ft is first out of the defenders with 77.61% which is very impressive in such a tough league. Benatia is second on 66.22% and Gabriel last (61.25%). Gabriel, who is quite athletic scores 0.66 with blocks made. Mertesacker is second 0.44 and Benatia last 0.28. Benatia scores a high 3.31 interceptions per 90, which beats both Arsenal men. Whether it is goal line clearance or clearing your lines, clearances are very important for defenders. It is worth remembering that playing for Bayern, Benatia’s stats could be distorted by the fact he rarely has to do defensive work.
Arsenal are desperate to rebuild the core of their team with a defender high on the list. With doubts over Mertesacker’s future and Gabriel’s progress taking slower than hoped, Arsenal will certainly be in the market for a defender this summer. Benatia would be a very solid addition to the Gunners back line and would certainly improve them defensively. Arsenal could also look at fixing the problem internally with Calum Chambers who show’s bags of potential. The fear is he is not ready, a loan move may be required and a defender of Benatia’s calibre cannot be rejected. They haven’t been able to replace the likes of Martin Keown and Sol Campbell and will hopefully look to do so this summer.