Five centre-backs who could solve Arsenal's defensive crisis
By Oliver Yew and Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 28/07/16 9:17am
With Arsenal struggling for defensive numbers ahead of the new season, we look at five centre-backs they could target.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Per Mertesacker will be out for "a few months" with a knee injury, with Laurent Koscielny on a post-Euro 2016 break and Gabriel Paulista out of the Gunners' American tour with tonsillitis.
That leaves Calum Chambers as the most experienced centre-back in the States' squad, with new signing Rob Holding next in line. The absences have prompted Arsene Wenger to admit he needs help at the back.
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"We have to look for an option to get a bit more experience," Wenger said on the official Arsenal website ahead of a clash with MLS All-Stars on Thursday.
"We will see some of our young centre-backs on Thursday as well. With Per being out, we are a bit short on the experience front and we are looking to bring somebody in."
Along with our friends at Football Whispers, we have identified five central defenders Arsenal could bring in before the end of the transfer window...
Kostas Manolas - Roma
Manolas was on Arsenal's radar back in 2014 but finances once again got in the way as the Gunners balked at the £12m fee quoted by Olympiakos.
Roma stepped in and during two seasons with the Serie A club the Greece international, who has won 24 caps for his country, has become a vital part of their defence.
Standing six-foot two-inches, Manolas, who was linked with a move to the Emirates earlier this month by Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, has the size and strength to handle the physicality of the Premier League and could help Arsenal solve their perceived weakness in the air.
Chelsea are also reportedly interested in the 25-year-old but Roma boss Luciano Spalletti has warned off both Premier League clubs, saying the centre-back is not for sale at any price.
Jeison Murillo - Inter Milan
Arsenal are reportedly interested in bringing the Inter Milan defender to north London, with Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport claiming the Gunners have made contact with the player's representatives.
The 24-year-old had a solid campaign with Inter in Serie A last season and featured for Colombia at this summer's Copa America, where he was named the Young Player of the Tournament.
He made more tackles and interceptions combined (29) than any other player at the tournament as Colombia finished third behind winners Chile and runners-up Argentina.
Fabian Schar - Hoffenheim
Arsenal were linked with a move for the Switzerland international last summer but missed out after he opted for Hoffenheim.
Before that, Schar was an important figure at the heart of Basel's defence during their run to the Europa League semi-final in 2013 and in the club's 2014/15 Champions League campaign, which ended in defeat to Porto in the last 16.
Schar, who has been linked with a move to north London by the Daily Mirror, also impressed during Euro 2016, starting all four of Switzerland's games alongside the Gunners' new midfield recruit Granit Xhaka.
Jason Denayer - Manchester City
With Mertesacker set for a spell on the sidelines, Arsenal could be looking for a more experienced option to partner Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the defence.
However, reports in the Sun have suggested Wenger is also looking for a young versatile defender to play in any position across the backline - and Manchester City defender Denayer certainly fits that bill.
The 21-year-old signed a new five-year deal last summer but has spent the last two seasons on loan at Celtic and Galatasaray respectively.
With his route into the City first-team seemingly blocked, Arsenal could try to tempt him away from the Etihad.
Shkodran Mustafi - Valencia
The north Londoners have been linked to World Cup-winning centre-back Mustafi, with the Daily Star reporting the club have already opened talks with the player's agent.
The Valencia defender already has experience of English football during a spell at Everton - although he only made one appearance - before an eye-catching turn with Sampdoria opened the path to La Liga.
He has made 78 appearances in all competitions for Valencia and scored an impressive six goals, but was forced to apologise to the club's fans on behalf of the team after he was sent off during last season's 7-0 Copa del Rey thrashing by Barcelona.
Mustafi still has three years of his contract to run at the Mestalla after he signed a five-year contract in August 2014, but could still make the move to London.