Arsenal have been in the marketplace for a dominant centre-back because Sol Campbell left 14 years back. Lots have attempted to fill the emptiness and tens of millions are spent on defenders, but the search continues.
In spite of this, Arsenal are still on the market for a centre-back. According to reports, West Ham United’s Issa Diop tops the club wishlist with the £60million fee being mooted not sufficient to put the Gunners off.
West Ham was only out the relegation zone on goal difference before the COVID-19-enforced break. The Hammers had lost six of the last ten at the Premier League, conceding 16 goals during this period.
On this basis, the London Stadium would not normally be a prime shopping destination if you are trying to sure-up your own defence. But the 23-year-old has all of the traits needed to grow into one of Europe’s best. And with different teams looking at the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Milan Škriniar, Arsenal could have a free run in the prior Toulouse defender.
He is also fairly experienced to get a player of his era having racked up over 75 Ligue 1 looks and a further 55 at the Premier League. The West Ham No.23 has represented France at each level between under-16 and under-21 and it is simply a matter of time until he makes his debut for Les Bleus.
On paper, Diop does not tick the boxes necessary for an Arsenal defender. Arteta would like to play football. He desires his centre-backs to be comfortable and capable of possession.
For all his faults, David Luiz has averaged 60 moves and 70 touches per 90 this year, for example. He may be the most reliable defender but the Brazilian can be a fantastic foundation for his team to build out from the trunk. Just ask Antonio Conte, who made the prior Paris Saint-Germain guy an integral cog in his title-winning Chelsea side.
Diop attempts just 31.66 moves and averages 45 touches (per 90). In addition to that, he finds that a team-mate with only 79 percent, six percent fewer than Luiz. Taken in isolation, that does not paint a positive image of Diop. Just because the Frenchman is not posting similar amounts to Luiz right now does not mean he can not.
He is far from the final product, but there is a great deal for Arteta to work with.
The Gunners have a lot of talented players at the last third. Getting the ball to them will be the principal portion of Arteta’s plans.
If the former Manchester City assistant manager can work with Diop and create him as a ball-player, he is a special talent and among the greatest centre-backs from the league.