Arsenal eye defender Mario Hermoso — here is why landing him would be biggest defensive transfer coup since landing Sol Campbell
But could Unai Emery struggle to get the deal over the line if Real Madrid come calling.
The 13-time Champions League winners have a buy-back clause for the 23-year-old and could purchase the young star for a fraction of the price that the Gunners are offering.
Hermoso has just received his first call-up to the Spain national team — and his increased profile will only put him more prominently in the shop window.
The defender has helped Espanyol to five clean sheets from 12 games, and is regarded as one of the best defenders in La Liga.
Such defensive ability would certainly help Emery's side out.
Despite their impressive form this season, Arsenal's weaknesses still lie at the back.
The Gunners have scored 26 league goals, but have conceded 15 which would suggest that they are in need of boosting their options at the back in January.
If they're to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City, they will have to sort out their goal deficit as their rivals have conceded ten less goals in the same period.
Arsenal's plans to increase their options at the back include a £35m offer for Hermaso, as well as a £26m bid for Juve defender Daniele Rugani.
Marca reported three days ago that Espanyol, who are currently chasing Champions League football, are becoming concerned that Hermoso will leave in January.
Why signing Mario Hermoso could be Arsenal’s biggest transfer coup since Sol Campbell
THE Gunners have been great at bagging attacking players over the last decade.
You know the sort of players I mean: agile, good passing, speed and the ability to pick a square pass, often at the expense of a simple shot on goal.
Think of some of the attacking talent Arsene Wenger bagged in his final decade – Samir Nasri, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spring to mind.
All players who lit up the Champions League at the Emirates and other clubs.
Then think of the calibre of star names in the back six positions the Gunners have landed who fit into that bracket. Nada.
Sol Campbell, who was signed from fierce rivals Spurs, was the last great defensive addition for the Gunners.
To sign a player like Hermoso, who is attracting Real Madrid, would be a huge change in direction for the Gunners and another tick in the box for Unai Emery.
Stability where there was vulnerability. Organisation where there was chaos.
We can all see the difference Lucas Torreira and the versatile ‘nouveau Emmanuel Petit’ Matteo Guendouzi have made in midfield, as well as the re-focused Hector Bellerin at full-back.
Let’s not forget how Granit Xhaka has gone from distracted Border Collie to alert Rottweiler.
In the centre of defence, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis and Rob Holding, have all been rotated, but there is a berth there, ready to be filled.
If Emery can convince the player to join, he would be joining a team that are going places – and with a defence to call his own.
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They are reportedly waiting to see if Real make a move, and know they can do nothing about it if Florentino Perez decides to swoop.
Real Madrid have confirmed in recent hours that Solari is their new manager on a permanent basis after being given a deal till 2021.
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