Arsenal have had their fair share of injuries this season. Whilst not being on the level of Liverpool’s woes, there have been plenty of important players missing lots of games for the North London side. A player they have had real trouble replacing during his absence is left back, Kieran Tierney.
The 23 year-old was signed by Unai Emery in the 2019 summer transfer window for a reasonable sum of £25 million. However his time at the Emirates has been plagued with injuries and, despite signing for the club in August, he did not make his debut until the end of September.
Since then, the Scotsman has become a very important piece of the puzzle for Mikel Arteta’s side, and was involved in a lot of the good moments that were happening for the club following their resurgence in form after Christmas. Although he is back from injury now, and played a full 90 minutes against leaders Man City, he was sorely missed during his 6 match absence from the squad.
His injury history is a cause for concern for Arteta, as Arsenal do not have a senior ‘left back’ in their ranks after loaning back-up Sead Kolasinac to Schalke in January. There are players who can play in that position, namely Maitland-Niles (who underperformed here against Southampton, swiftly leading to him being loaned out) and Portugese international Cedric.
Although Cedric may have stepped up and done a fairly solid job in filling in for Tierney, he is still prone to a mistake. We saw this with the misplaced pass that led to Villa’s goal, which won them the game, so it would not surprise me if the Arsenal hierarchy find themselves in the market for an understudy to Tierney this summer.
Ideally, Arsenal will want to spend as little as possible on this position, as there are other areas of the pitch that are in need of a real upgrade, so I’ve given myself a maximum of £10 million to find a realistic replacement.
I know this might be a fairly lazy choice, a young, Scottish left back, but I genuinely believe that Doig could be the perfect back up to Tierney. The 18 year-old plays his football for Scottish Premiership side Hibernian, and in 21 appearances for the Edinburgh side he has managed 1 goal and 3 assists this season.
Of course, for a full back, it’s not all about g/a. In Arteta’s case, he will be looking for someone who can play a major part in the build up to Arsenal’s attack, with the full back usually being the one to deliver the ball into the box, whilst also having the speed and defensive awareness to track back and help defend. And from what I’ve seen, Josh Doig has these qualities.
Being second in the pecking order will do Doig wonders, as he will be working very close to Tierney and will be able to learn from him, not only about performances on the pitch, but also about how to act off of it. I could also see the two of them getting along well due to their shared nationality. There will be no language barrier between Doig and the rest of the squad and staff either, so he would settle fairly easily.
I think the problem with Maitland-Niles and Cedric playing in this position for Arsenal is that they are both right footed, meaning they take longer to shift the ball out and get the attack started. They will also receive the ball in a crossing position on the wrong foot. Doig will not have these problems as he is comfortable with the ball on both feet.
The Scotsman will be a very smart piece of business for Arsenal, and will cost no more than £5 million (his market value on transfermarkt.co.uk is £450k) so he definitely suits the budget that the Gunners have for this position. Due to his age, there will always be an option to loan him out too if he does not perform to the right standard straight away. A no brainer for Arteta and Edu Gaspar in my opinion.
The 23 year-old Frenchman currently plays his football in Ligue 1 for Stade Brest and in 25 league appearances this term, he has managed 3 goals and 5 assists from left back. Pretty impressive.
Through watching some of his highlights you can tell that he, like Tierney, loves to get forward and create for his front three. He is also left footed, which is ideal for this position and the way that Arsenal play, we have seen right footers Cedric and Maitland-Niles struggle with the demands from LB so a left footer is needed.
Being the same age as Tierney will create some healthy competition between the two of them, and hopefully help both players push each other to release their full potential. There should also be little problems settling in language-wise, as there are plenty of french speakers in the squad, including centre backs like David Luiz and Gabriel.
Arsenal would have to pay just over £10 million for the services of Perraud, his current market value on transfermarkt.com is £8 million, but he has recently signed a new contract at Brest which runs until 2025.
The Gunners would face some tough opposition for his signature too, as he has been scouted by some top clubs including Premier League opponents Leeds United. Perraud would be a fantastic signing for Arsenal, but I’m not sure if the price or the fact that he has just signed a new contract will put the board off.
There are plenty of quality left backs whose contracts are expiring in 2021. We have seen the Arsenal board nab a few players whilst their contracts ran down as a ‘free’ transfer, Sead Kolasinac, Willian and Petr Cech are just some examples. So it would not surprise me if Arsenal decide to nab one of these players in the summer window.
Amongst those who will be available are Premier League proven players like Patrick Van Aanholt, Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand. All three of these players have played some very nice football for their respective clubs, with Van Aanholt and Bertrand still starting week in week out.
The only problems I see with signing any of these players is that they are all over 30, and will only be playing for a couple more seasons. Adding to this is the high wage that they will be expecting, and after clearing out the wage bill in January, it wouldn’t be very clever for Arsenal to pile it up again.
Crystal Palace left back, Tyrick Mitchell is also available for ‘free’ during the summer, but after a promising breakthrough season, I can see the 21 year-old signing a new contract for the South London club. Mitchell is a talented defender and is very strong going forward, and I believe he is a player to keep an eye on for any club.
A player who has been heavily linked to the Gunners is Juan Bernat, who is also available for ‘free’ this summer. The Spanish left-back has spent most of the season on the sideline for PSG with an ACL injury. Bernat has won the Bundesliga 4 times with Bayern Munich and the Ligue 1 trophy twice during his time in Paris.
He was also a mainstay in the PSG side up until his injury in September, and played an important role in the club’s Champions League run last season. Having just turned 28 he still has a good couple of years playing football up his sleeve. My only concern with Juan Bernat is that he will possibly be annoyed at the prospect of being a back-up to Tierney and be put off joining the North London side.
Who would you bring in as left back cover if you were Mikel Arteta? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!