What became a position of progressing worry has further blossomed into a rosebush of danger, with big nasty pointy thorns that drip acid and harbour flesh-eating catepillars that would make even the hardiest Pokemon Go users cringe.
That was master wordcrafter Phil AlsoNamed on the center back position heading into the season prior to the Shkodran Mustafi signing but following the knee injury to Per Mertesacker.
Now seven months into the 2016/17 season, how are things looking at the back?
In January, Mertesacker extended his contract through the 2017/18 season, so we haven’t seen the last of the BFG yet. At 32-years old though and coming off of a knee injury, it’s fair to wonder how much he has left in those long legs.
Koscielny joined Arsenal in TSF’s rookie season back in 2010. A bedrock at the back, he re-upped his deal in January keeping him at Arsenal through the 2019/20 season.
The most recent addition to the central bank, Mustafi was signed from Valencia just a few games into this season. At just 24-years old and signed through 2020/21, he figures to feature for years to come.
The Brazilian, a 2015 winter transfer market addition, has started 15 games and subbed in another four in all competitions this campaign. The 26-year old is on the books for another two seasons as it stands.
Holding was signed in the summer from Bolton just north of £2m. At 21-years old, he’s an investment in long-term potential rather than an immediate plug-in having played in 10 games in all competitions and seeing the pitch in the FA Cup alone thus far in 2017.
Bielik was loaned out to Birmingham City for the season where he has played in just four matches this season. The 19-year old is hoping to contribute to Birmingham avoiding relegation as they sit just five points out of the zone.
Likelihood of signing: 2/10
As with all the entries in this series, much is going to depend on the managerial situation come this summer. I’m grading this as if Arsène Wenger is still in charge.
As it stands, I think a Mertesacker-Koscielny-Mustafi rotation going into next season is pretty likely if Wenger still has the reins. The move here would be either sending Gabriel out if they can find a committed buyer or another Rob Holding-type signing to stock up the youth. With Holding and Bielik, there’s enough young talent to suggest that the summer passes without that kind of influx.
Two entries in the series in and neither grades out highly for a major signing for me, though I’m already feeling I undersold the GK position at a 4/10. Given that Arsenal have conceded 34 goals in the league to this point to say nothing of their Champions League form, I suppose there’s fair argument to be made that even if Wenger stays on, there could be a major move somewhere at the back.
As it stands, I’d bet on major change elsewhere.
Next up: Fullbacks. I’ve got a need. A need...for speed. (GOD BLESS TOP GUN AND GOD BLESS US ALL)