You’re sick of reading about it. I’m sick of it knowing it. But most people are not sick of laughing about it.
Arsenal’s defence has been, let’s be honest here, crap, for quite some time, and it needs fixing.
This we can all agree on.
Yet, at the base, it appears to be on the mend. Hector Bellerin is back fit, as is summer signing Kieran Tierney, meanwhile the best defender in the world William Saliba is finally going to don the red and white for the 2020/21 campaign.
Mikel Arteta is putting his stamp on the side, making them significantly tougher to bully around the park and boasting the only unbeaten Premier League record in 2020. All is swell, right?
Can always be better. Can always be better.
The workings of a more secure back four are glistening over the horizon. No longer will I, like many others, be forced to yell expletives to the sky when any one of the calamitous central defenders at the club does something particularly woeful. That’s the hope, anyway.
For next season it appears as if three of the back four are cemented in place. David Luiz will probably sign another year-long extension, and Saliba will waltz into the starting lineup with a pirouette that blusters Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis towards the revolving exit doors.
There are currently seven centre-backs at the club, including those either on loan or out on loan. Far too many if you ask me, or, literally anyone else.
So where is the room for an eighth? Well, the hope would be that Thiago Silva would be joining the club as its fifth (or so) central defender. Plenty need to go, in other words, and that looks to be the case, as 90min revealed that Arsenal were one of the sides considering a move for Silva when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.
Working on the basis that the numbers are manageable, then missing out on a veteran defender on a free transfer for even one season is an opportunity not to be missed.
Of course, it isn’t free though, is it? Paris Saint-Germain boast silly money, plenty of which is handed out to Silva in the shape of a staggering £1.3m or so monthly pay packet.
Can Arsenal pay that? Not. A. Chance.
Could they negotiate that, though? Perhaps, as long as there are enough Michelin stars on the restaurant they hold the meeting at and the red wine’s vintage starts with nothing higher than ‘196’. Oh, and plenty of smooth conversation will be needed too.
Considering that Silva is settled in Paris, it may make those chats easier to work with, as the good ol’ Eurostar makes light work of getting to and from the two cities. That surely counts for something.
So, working on the basis they can convince him to join for a season, he’d be wholly welcome at the club.
The standout feature of any player at 35 years old is that oh-so valuable footballing commodity: experience.
Nearly 650 club appearances, touching 90 international outings and more trophies than sense tend to imply experience is forthcoming by the bucketload.
Many will argue this is something Arsenal already have in central defence. That’s true. Sokratis has seen plenty of action, Luiz likewise. And don’t forget Mustafi has won a World Cup.
Yet they all just aren’t very good. Unfortunately.
Silva is, though. Silva really is.
Granted those beastly legs of his are not the same as they were three or four years ago, but we’re still talking about the captain of one of Europe’s leading clubs who regularly starts matches in a top tier football league.
What he could bring off the field could be of importance as well, offering equal measures of know-how and guidance to young Gabriel Martinelli, who has profited greatly from having fellow Brazilian national Luiz to put an arm around him and ease his progression within the squad.
As the only French-speaking central defender in the squad he would aid Saliba in his integration too. That’ll be needed to guide the youngster through matches in his first venture into English football.
Naturally, it’ll be Silva’s first too, but can anyone make a case for the other central defenders in the squad being better at present than the 35-year-old? I struggle to, having watched on in despair at the state of the current – and previous crop’s – failings for a painstakingly long time.
Even if he doesn’t get a starting berth under Arteta, the reliability of a having player of his calibre as the fall-back option will offer significant reassurances to many; notably Bernd Leno and the 60,000 spectators at the Emirates.
If he can be swayed into committing 12 months of his career to the Gunners then it’d be foolish on the club’s behalf to turn down. Money simply isn’t available to splash out £50m on someone. Free transfers will the human personification of gold when the summer window opens, so if his wages can be slashed down (a lot), then it’s an avenue worth pursuing.
Besides, alongside Saliba the pair could be referred to as Saliva. A prospect worth drooling over.
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