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Arsene Wenger must do all he can to sign Virgil van Dijk
August 9, 2017 - Written by cabdirashiid Mubarik

Arsene Wenger must do all he can to sign Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool and Chelsea are most interested, but could Arsenal steal van Dijk from under their noses?

 

Southampton v Leicester City - Premier League
Southampton v Leicester City – Premier League

 

Arsene Wenger must pounce on the opportunity that has arisen and sign Virgil van Dijk before Chelsea or Manchester City get there first.

The 26-year-old is now likely to be made available to buy from Southampton, after handing in a transfer request. New Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino has made it clear that he only wants players who are ‘100% committed to the club’, categorically ruling out the possibility of van Dijk ever playing for the Saints again. The only other choice for Southampton is to allow him to play for the U23s or let him sit on the bench, but this will only make his price tag drop. They know if they are to make as much money as possible, they need to sell him now.

The Gunners conceded 44 goals last season, even after they thought they had solved their defensive woes by signing Shkodran Mustafi. The German did not settle in as quickly and as easily as everyone expected, and struggled to build a strong partnership with Laurent Koscielny. This led to them conceding more goals than they would have liked, more than even Liverpool, a team many believe had a dreadful centre back pairing.

This season the Gunners have Koscielny, Mustafi, Gabriel, Per Mertesacker, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal, but many would argue only Koscielny is currently better than van Dijk. It would be foolish of Wenger not to attempt to sign the Dutchman.

Van Dijk would offer a huge physical presence and dominance in the air, something that Arsenal struggle with. It has been a clear feature of teams such as West Brom’s game plan against Arsenal, to bully their centre backs in the air. They often utilise set pieces as their opportunities to score against the North London side, and more often than not, it works. The Dutchman would certainly help eradicate this.

 

Arsenal FC v FC Basel 1893 - UEFA Champions League : News Photo
Van Dijk, Koscielny and Mustafi would form a formidable centre defensive partnership

Do not be fooled though, van Dijk is not just an aerial specialist, he’s a magnificent ball playing centre back who would fit in at any team around the world, especially Arsenal. Additionally, he would perfectly suit their new three at the back formation as he would slot in perfectly in the middle of the three.

Moreover, Arsenal centre back Chambers has reportedly been told he is free to leave, with Crystal Palace being the firm favourites to sign the Englishman. He is now as far back as seventh in the pecking order of Arsenal’s centre backs and has even been overtaken by last season’s signing Holding. With Chambers being made available by Wenger, Arsenal could offer a fee plus Chambers in an attempt to sign the 26-year-old. This would be fitting, with Chambers having previously played in Southampton’s youth team.

However, a deal is obviously not going to be that easy. If Chelsea and Manchester City are interested, then Arsenal have a lot to compete with. If van Dijk were to move to City he would undoubtedly be a first choice centre back, given the troubles the Manchester side have had in that position for the past few years.

At Chelsea, he would not necessarily find himself starting straight away, but they can at least offer him Champions League football this year, something Arsenal cannot. In addition to that, both clubs have much more financial power than Arsenal, meaning they would be willing to pay the 26-year-old more, something that is becoming all the more important when it comes to transfers.

But, van Dijk knows that if he were to join the Gunners, they will most definitely be a team hoping to challenge for the league title and at the very least qualify for the Champions League, after missing out last season.

 

 

Arsenal have only signed Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette so far, but rumours are suggesting that they are desperately attempting to sign both Thomas Lemar and Jean Seri. Van Dijk would know that if Arsenal were to sign those players along with himself, they would certainly be a force to be reckoned with next season.

Ultimately, the decision is his, but the biggest interest has supposedly come from both Liverpool and Chelsea. Southampton are unlikely to want to deal with Liverpool due to their attempt to ‘tap-up’ the Dutchman earlier in the season. If only Chelsea are interested, he may want to consider his decision as they already have many good centre halves including David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma (who is on loan at Stoke).

One thing is for sure, Arsenal fans would be desperate for the 26-year-old to sign for them and help end their defensive woes.

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