You’re trailing 2-0 to Manchester City, and your left back’s gone down injured. He can’t play on.
Your other left back’s out for three months with a dislocated shoulder, so you look over to the touchline, and getting ready to come on in his place is…18-year-old winger Bukayo Saka.
But it’s cool. Granit Xhaka has played left back before, so he’ll probably drop back and…oh wait, no, he’s out injured too.
Before Saka can even get on the park, Kevin de Bruyne has made it 3-0 before half-time.
Nope, it is not a good time to be an Arsenal fan. Ninth in the league with no permanent manager and a physio room that makes a Glasgow A&E wing on a Saturday night seem barren, the troubles are mounting up.
With that in mind, let’s ease the pain somewhat, and jump headfirst into some wild speculation over who could realistically(ish) be recruited in January to shore up the squad and ease the load for the second half of the season.
Malang Sarr – OGC Nice
Arsenal need to recruit smartly in January and secure cover in both central defence, where Rob Holding continues to struggle with injury and neither Sokratis or David Luiz have impressed, and at left-back, with Kieran Tierney out until at least February and Sead Kolasinac facing an undetermined absence.
If they could achieve all that, while landing a player with a good blend of experience and potential, then they would have done some very good business indeed. And that’s exactly what they could do with an approach for Nice defender Malang Sarr.
The 20-year-old is a remarkably composed, ball-playing defender, who has spent time at both left back and centre back in Ligue 1 this season. He’s an important player for Patrick Vieira’s side, but he’s out of contract in 18 months, and the obvious links between the manager and the club may mean that a deal could be attained without completely breaking the bank…
Nathan Ferguson – West Brom
Another versatile defender, Ferguson has been one of the Championship’s breakout stars this season, playing at both left and right back while also displaying an aptitude for playing centrally when required.
With West Brom heading towards the Premier League, the 19-year-old’s value is only going to rocket, so securing him now may make sense. He’d come reasonably cheap and offer some solid, versatile cover, while as a teenager arriving from the second tier, there wouldn’t be too much pressure on him to hit the ground running.
Aleksandar Kolarov – Roma
Switching gears, if Kolasinac’s injury ends up being worse than first feared, then a signing for the future may not be the way to go. If Arsenal find themselves seeking experienced cover at left-back, then they should look to Italy and Roma defender Kolarov.
The former Manchester City man is now 34, but has played every minute in Serie A this season. He’s out of contract in the summer, however, so could be attainable on the cheap if it’s something the Gunners decide to pursue.
Emre Can – Juventus
After a start to the season that had him frozen out of the side completely, Can has seen an increase in his recent game-time at Juventus, but it still seems as if his days are numbered.
If a return to the Premier League is something he fancies, then Arsenal would be crazy not to offer him one next month. An initial loan with an option to buy would likely to the trick, and bring in a player who offers some desperately-needed steel and composure in the centre of the park, and can also cover as an emergency defender if need be.
Carles Aleña – Barcelona
Another potential loan option, Barcelona are thought to be considering sending out their highly-rated youth product for the second half of the season. He’s played fewer than 90 minutes in La Liga, but is believed to have a real future at Camp Nou.
Arsenal would have a lot going for them in a bid to bring him in short-term: they’re not a Champions League rival and would be able to offer him far more game-time than he currently gets in Spain. He can play in the ten, on the right-wing and deeper if need be, and would bring a different creative dimension to their attack.
Also, Tottenham are rumoured to have been interested, if they needed any more motivation to make some enquiries.
Dominik Szoboszlai – Red Bull Salzburg
The Salzburg production line has earned itself plenty of publicity this season. Takumi Minamino looks to be going to Liverpool while Erling Haaland could be heading anywhere from Juventus to Manchester United, but the talent that best suits Arsenal is 19-year-old Dominik Szoboszlai, with whom they were linked in October.
The 19-year-old has worn many hats in the Salzburg midfield this season, featuring largely as a winger, while doing some of his best work from central positions. He has nine goal involvements in 21 appearances this season and carries the intelligence, physicality and composure to offer Arsenal an excellent versatile option – if they are prepared to cough up what will be a lofty asking price for the Hungarian.
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