Arsenal are reportedly interested in Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia, as they seek to bolster their backline to get back in the Champions League and challenge for major honours.
It’s noble to see the Gunners finally identifying their problems at the back and subsequently targeting such a stellar centre-back, but they’re likely to fail in their pursuit of Benatia for a variety of reasons.
With Juventus selling Leonardo Bonucci to AC Milan last summer, Andrea Barzagli out of contract and being 37 years old, Benedikt Höwedes returning to parent club Schalke 04 and Georgio Chiellini having 12 months left on his deal, the Old Lady risk leaving themselves short at the back if they allowed another defender to exit.
After spending a season on loan from Bayern Munich, Benatia made the permanent switch last summer and went on to make 32 appearances in all competitions, helped the defending champions to retain the Serie A title and win the Coppa Italia.
Juventus have Daniele Rugani and Benatia left, so it’s highly unlikely they will sell the latter to Arsenal, even if they pay a sizeable amount. The 31-year-old has only been a permanent signing for a year and is contracted with Juve until 2020, so there appears to be no benefit for the Italian giants to let him go.
If anything, the Serie A giants need to add a defender of their own to the squad, lest they go into next season without strength in depth. Juventus pride themselves on their outstanding backline, having conceded just 24 goals in 38 games last season, losing only three games, but things could fall apart in 2018/19 if they don’t strengthen wisely.
Arsenal might be barking up the wrong tree if they are putting all their eggs into one basket by trying to sign Benatia.
Even if Juventus wanted to leave themselves very short in defence and sell Benatia just one year after signing him from Bayern, there’s no guarantee he would be open to joining Arsenal.
The Moroccan international won two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal in his three years at Bayern, while winning two Serie A titles and two Coppa Italias. Arsenal have won just one FA Cup in the last three years and have finished outside of the top-four in the past two seasons.
For such an experienced and serial-winning centre-back, it would make little sense for him to leave Juventus off the back of another successful season to join Arsenal who are undergoing a transitional period. The scouting team are bold trying to sign a top European defender, but they may have set their sights too high.
Ultimately, Juventus won’t want to sell a first-team defender without having one or two replacements lined up this summer, nor will Benatia be so open to making the switch to a struggling side in a new division so late in his career. It would be a gamble, as it could be the last move he makes before considering retirement.