The winter transfer window is about to open, which means that the second stage of the silly season is upon us. While all eyes will be watching which creative midfielder Arsenal will attempt to sign over the January transfer window to help their flailing form, it appears that the North London club have already quietly made their first acquisition of the winter, as it is being reported that 18 year old Hertha Berlin center-back Omar Rekik is going to become a Gunner.
|#AFC— afcSource™ (@afcSource) December 17, 2020
Hertha Berlin centre-back Omar Rekik has just flown into London to finalise his transfer to Arsenal. He was meant to join Arsenal over the summer, but last minute complications prevented a deal from happening. (omarrekik on Instagram) pic.twitter.com/7XWJKL84gB
If the name sounds familiar, Rekik was supposed to sign with Arsenal in the summer as part of the loan deal with Matteo Guendouzi but the deal hit a hiccup and wasn’t able to be finalized in time. At the time, the reportedly agreed upon fee was £900,000, but that has not yet been confirmed.
If you’re rolling your eyes at the prospect of the Gunners signing yet another center-back, you’re not alone. Since the 2016/17 season, Arsenal have signed seven center-backs. Depth is never a bad thing in professional sports, but the combination of untimely injuries and the inability to find a consistent pairing has led to the current revolving door state of the defense. A quick rundown of Arsenal’s defenders paints a grim picture of the back line:
- Gabriel - Surprise of the season! He stays.
- Pablo Mari - Coming off a major injury. Signed out of left field. Still an unknown.
- David Luiz - Old. Wildly unpredictable. Supposedly not speaking with Arteta anymore.
- Shkodran Mustafi - *Cues up Yakety Sax*
- Sokratis - Old. Not even part of the registered PL roster.
- William Saliba - Young. Can’t even break into the EL squad. Supposedly upset with lack of playing time. Supposedly not as good as advertised.
- Calum Chambers - Coming off major injury. Not good, not bad. Still young-ish.
- Dinos Mavropanos - Perpetually on loan.
- Rob Holding - Balding.
If there is an upside to this, a mass exodus of players from the club is expected this summer. Arsenal will undoubtedly move on from Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis, and the future of David Luiz seems less clear by the day. There is also the potential to see Dinos Mavropanos’ successful loan at Stuttgart become permanent, as well as the outside chance of moving on from the injury-prone Calum Chambers (though with Brexit set to affect the Premier League, homegrown players will be even more valuable than before). Regardless, the defense appears to be headed toward a rebuild around the current stable of Gabriel, Pablo Mari, and Rob Holding.
Also worth keeping in mind is that, much like the recent signings of William Saliba and Gabriel, Rekik’s signing is one for the future. Arsenal have been mired with a strange mix of green youth and rusty age in the defense for several seasons now. With Arteta looking to clean house, Rekik is a smart signing. Although he has not featured for Hertha Berlin’s first team, Rekik was a cornerstone of the U19 defense last season before being bumped up to Hertha Berlin II, which plays in Germany’s 4th division. He is expected to join the U23 squad, which makes far more sense than throwing him in to the deep end of the Premier League pool.
Things have been looking dire at the Emirates, but we all knew that the rebuild was not going to happen overnight. The signing of Omar Rekik is a small step, but hopefully one in the right direction. We will update as the situation develops.