Arsenal are desperate for defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window…
Arsene Wenger is desperately seeking a quality centre-back to replace Thomas Vermaelen. Near the top of his list of targets is Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross, but the Arsenal manager will first ask Aaron Ramsey for permission to make the move.
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The North London side are keen on the 26-year-old England international, who has played in excess of 200 Premier League games for the Potters since graduating from the Manchester United youth academy.
But any move will have to be rubber stamped by Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who had his leg broken by a wild challenge from Shawcross in 2010.
Last summer, Ramsey was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying: “I’ll shake Ryan Shawcross’s hand.. but we’re not mates”, ahead of a game between the two teams.
However, the midfielder has since added that he has got over the challenge, admitting the memories had faded, leading to a growing belief that he would accept Shawcross as a teammate if it was for the good of the team.
The Gunners allowed Vermaelen to leave the Emirates Stadium for Barcelona during the summer transfer window, but failed to sign a replacement, leaving them with just six senior defenders.
Four of those players (Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal) have missed games through injury since the start of the season, while full-back Debuchy is likely to be out for over a month with an ankle injury.
German centre-back Per Mertesacker has also been criticised for his below-par displays, and the club’s defensive issues have even prompted Wenger to consider several free agent options as a short-term solution.
It seems likely that Wenger will move for a centre-back in the New Year, and he would ideally like a player capable of challenging for a first-team spot, rather than simply a back-up option.
Shawcross has regularly been ranked among the best Premier League defenders over the last couple of years, and is just entering his ‘peak years’. The player is also likely to be keen on a move to one of the Premier League’s ‘big clubs’, as it could further his chances of adding to his solitary England cap.
If a team of Arsenal’s stature, capable of offering his Champions League football, does not come knocking, then Shawcross will likely stay loyal to Stoke, who he has been with since he was a teenager, when he joined on loan. He was voted the club’s player of the year last year, and is a firm fan favourite with Mark Hughes’ side.
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