Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka sent supporters into a frenzy on social media after hinting that the Gunners were set to sign Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos and SC Freiburg centre-back Caglar Soyuncu, reports the Mirror.
The Swiss international ‘liked’ a comment on Instagram from a fan saying ‘Skoratis and Soyuncu is done’ and now many believe the defensive pair will be on their way to the Emirates this summer.
Per Mertesacker is hanging up his boots to become Arsenal’s Head of Academy. The former German international has made just 12 appearances in all competitions this season and is out of contract this summer.
Having lost his starting place in the side a year previously, Mertesacker’s exit isn’t a surprise. However, his departure will mean Arsenal require an experienced replacement.
Mertesacker was a leader on and off the pitch, often fronting up in post-match interviews when his side had lost, so his successor has big shoes to fill.
Laurent Koscielny may not have long left at Arsenal either, as the ageing defender is currently recovering from a serious achilles injury that has ended his hopes of playing at the World Cup again with France.
The 32-year-old was also a leader and one of the most experienced players in the squad, but his injury woes limited his playing time in recent seasons and now a new face is required. Koscielny still has two years left on his deal with the Gunners, but it’s hard to see him commanding a starting place next season.
Nacho Monreal has played centre-back, but the Spaniard could be on his way out of the club at the end of his contract next year. He’s 32 and a diminutive centre-back option, so his time may be up at the Emirates.
With so many experienced players potentially on their way out in the next 12 months, the need for somebody like Sokratis – a 29-year-old Greek defender playing for Dortmund – is obvious.
Arsenal are blessed with a lot of central defenders – Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos – but they’re lacking in overall quality.
Chambers still hasn’t managed to nail down a starting place in all his years at Arsenal. Holding also remains on the periphery, two years after signing from Bolton Wanderers.
Mavropanos played a few games at the end of the season and went from hero to zero due to the contrasting nature of his performances. It’s clear Arsenal need quality at the back and can’t rely on their current options.
With a potential overhaul in players coming this summer or next, it’s vital Arsenal have a sold defensive partnership to build on. Mustafi has been a regular at the back by default this season, his performances haven’t warranted it. Manager Arsene Wenger hasn’t had any better available option.
The Gunners have a problem where they’ve overstocked their defence with players who aren’t good enough and need to trim their current option and locate better replacements. Sokratis would be a start, but Soyuncu may be one for the future given his age.