Arsenal will not be having further links on the transfer rumour mill with Swiss International, Stephan Lichsteiner, as the defender has reportedly agreed fresh terms to keep him at Juventus for three more years.
The search for capable candidates to bolster the quality of Arsenal’s defenders have seen the talking up of a possible approach by Arsenal to the Serie A Champions for the 31-year old when negotiations for a new deal appeared to be on the ropes. Lichsteiner has been with the three-time Scudetto Champions since 2011, showing the immense experience he has had over the past years of his career, and it may have appealed to Wenger that the pacy, 6ft defender had spent some time in the French Ligue with Lille.
With Massimo Allegri keen on filling the big shoes handed to him upon the exit of Antonio Conte, it is not surprising to see they have seen reasons to renew their commitments to each other, Lichsteiner and Juve, officially putting an end to any hopes of Arsenal taking him this January.
The pursuit for Lichsteiner had been at its ‘peak’ when Wenger could barely select a capable defensive back four in October, with injuries sweeping through the backline like a plague. Though the health of the squad seems to be normalizing, the latest injury to first-choice right-back Mattieu Debuchy would mean that the likes of the Swiss man would still be one of those the club will be monitoring were he to still be available. Debuchy looks set for a three-month lay-off and you get the feeling that anyone who will be in that role for that period may retain his place till the end of the season if he were to prove good enough.
Wenger may still go our searching for a defender during this window but the likelihood that it would be a right back appears slim, with Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers ready to fight for a spot. Saying that, Lichsteiner, for all his experience, was not exactly one of the elite defenders in the world. He is renowned for his attacking abilities on the right flank, being at his best when playing as a wing back for a 3 man defence. It tells of his proclivity to being more of an attacker than a defender.
A center-back will be top priority for the next three weeks and Wenger should be looking to real, top class center defenders in January to give more solidity at the back, and there has not been a shortage of suggestions. Winston Reid, Virgil van Dijk and Stefan De Vrij are all younger defenders, with great potential. Bigger name targets like Mats Hummels and Sergio Ramos seem reasonable beyond reach for now.
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