Arsenal Move Ahead in Defender Race


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Arsenal are favourites to land Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly this summer, reports the Daily Mirror.

The Gunners defence creaked this season, conceding 51 goals in the league which was their highest total since 1983-84. With Laurent Koscielny out until December following a ruptured cruciate ligament, the north London club are desperate to add depth to their squad.

And leadership. Per Mertesacker, the club captain, is retiring to take control of the club’s Hale End academy this summer, leaving Germany international Shkodran Mustafi, 25, as the club’s most experienced defender.

While Calum Chambers, 23, Rob Holding, 22, and Konstantinos Mavropanos, 20, are all seen as the future of the club, but Arsenal need to shore up their defence now.

Senegal international Koulibaly is seen as the commanding presence the club needs at the back to provide the basis for a return to the top four of the Premier League.

Previously, the 25-year-old was linked with a move to Chelsea. Antonio Conte, the Blues boss, identified him, along with Alex Sandro, as the defenders he needed but the west London club couldn’t broker an agreement with Napoli or Juventus respectively. With the Italian set to be dismissed, both players will most likely end up elsewhere.

It’s understood Napoli want a fee in the region of £53m, significantly less than Chelsea were quoted and in today’s inflated market, good value for money. It’s a deal which will appeal to Arsenal on that basis alone.