It looks like a highly unpredictable and often exasperating chapter in Arsenal’s modern history is about to come to a close.
According to The Daily Mail, David Luiz has informed the club hierarchy of his intention to leave the club this summer.
Luiz joined Arsenal from Chelsea for £8m in 2019 and will leave a mixed legacy at the Emirates.
While he was part of the team which won the FA Cup last term, his performances have often been wildly inconsistent, he has three red cards in two seasons and, while he only deserves a portion of the blame, the team’s league position has declined markedly in that time.
Having sustained a series of nagging injuries in recent months which have disrupted his game time, Luiz’s departure makes sense for all involved. With his contract set to expire at the end of June, he will leave on a free transfer and seek a new challenge elsewhere.
So who could come into the team to replace him? Here are some of Arsenal’s options in the transfer market, along with two potential successors who are already waiting in the wings.
Even to the backdrop of Fulham ’s relegation, Joachim Andersen has built a reputation as a dependable centre-back since joining on loan from Lyon last October.
Were survival decided on defensive record alone, Fulham wouldn’t be going down this term. They have conceded a relatively modest 47 goals in the Premier League, the same number as 12th-placed Wolves and six fewer than 10th-placed Leeds United.
Andersen has been crucial to that effort, making 29 appearances and scoring one goal. Standing at 6’4, he’s a physically imposing presence and, unsurprisingly, he wins a fair amount of aerial duels.
While he’s set to return to France in June, he may not be away for long. According to The Telegraph, Tottenham are at the front of the queue to sign him.
Arsenal have also shown an interest, however, and could try to upstage their north London rivals. He is reportedly available for around £20m which, for a 24-year-old, would make him a fairly realistic target.
Having produced two rock-solid performances at the centre of defence as Villarreal overcame Arsenal in the Europa League semi-finals, Pau Torres needs no introduction.
Also 24, he is in the midst of the most impressive season of his career to date and has made 41 appearances as Unai Emery’s side have made waves in La Liga and in Europe.
According to Sport, Arsenal are among the clubs to have shown an interest in Torres. He has also caught the attention of Barcelona, Real Madrid and both Manchester clubs, though, so there’s no shortage of competition.
Asked about the interest in him last month, Torres said: “It is a source of pride to see that your work is reflected in this type of thing being said, but I face it with great calmness. I am at a great club in Villarreal and I work with that calmness every day.”
Torres would not come cheap and, likewise, Arsenal would have to fight off several much wealthier clubs to sign him.
Having made his name on loan at Leeds last season, Ben White has continued to impress since returning to Brighton.
He has 36 appearances to his name in all competitions and, aged 23, he fits the right profile.
The Brighton & Hove Independent reports that White could be sold this summer, with Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, PSG and Roma all keen.
Various reports have suggested that White could cost upwards of £35m which means that, like Torres, he would eat up a fair chunk of Arteta’s transfer budget.
Of the two players already contracted to Arsenal who could take Luiz’s place in the squad, Mavropanos has earned far fewer headlines this season.
He has done well on loan at VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, however, making 22 appearances.
Asked about Mavropanos’ impact in Germany, Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has called him “our gladiator” and “a monster in terms of physique”.
Despite struggling to make an impression at Arsenal since his arrival in 2018, next season could be Mavropanos’ opportunity to finally break into the team.
The obvious candidate to replace Luiz is, of course, William Saliba.
He may have had a difficult start to life at Arsenal, but Saliba is still a hugely exciting prospect.
Left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad and sidelined after an underwhelming pre-season, Saliba joined Nice on loan in January and has made his mark back in France.
As things stand, it looks like Saliba will be reintegrated back into the first team next season. That would certainly save a lot of money and allow Arteta to invest in other priority areas, of which there are many.
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