Arsenal have been “offered the chance to buy” Borussia Dortmund centerback Manuel Akanji, per reports. The 26-year old Swiss international has one year remaining on his deal with the German side and seems to be surplus to requirements for new manager Edin Terzic. Dortmund have already brought in Niklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck this summer, presumably to be their starting duo at the back.
It’s uncharacteristic for Dortmund to let a player enter the final year of his contract, and they almost never let a player walk for free. So Akanji will almost certainly be on the move this summer. For what it’s worth, Manchester United have been much more closely linked with a move for the defender.
I don’t doubt that Dortmund have offered him to Arsenal. They’ve likely offered him to all the top clubs in England because the Premier League has the most money and therefore the largest number of potential buyers. The German side are reportedly seeking £21M, but transfer experts expect that number to come down as the window continues. Obviously, it would be in Dortmund’s interest to try to spark a bidding war or at least make it seem as if there are other clubs interested to drive up the price.
Would Akanji fit at Arsenal? Shrug. Yeah, I guess. He’s an exceptional passer and dribbler for a defender. Amusingly, FBREF lists William Saliba among similar players, statistically. But he’s not really what the club need right now.
Akanji is right-footed. So he’s not a backup for Gabriel Magalhaes. Or at least not one if Mikel Arteta wants to rigidly stick to his left side-left foot rule. Akanji’s skill set is also redundant. Both Ben White and William Saliba are strong dribblers and effective passers. And while redundancy can be good for rotation and in case of injury, I think the Gunners could do with adding a bit more defensive bite to the centerback stable. I’m not saying they should bring in a guy who can’t complete a pass just because he’s good in a tackle, but more of a lockdown defender wouldn’t go amiss.
Arteta’s end goal is to be two-deep at every position, but I think left / fourth centerback will have to wait for a later window. With Saliba, White, and Gabriel, Arsenal have three starting-caliber centerbacks. Rob Holding is a more than serviceable fourth (and closer **Enter Sandman** plays). That’s plenty of talent in the position for this upcoming season, and the side needs reinforcing elsewhere. At some point, the club might be in the position to buy players simply because they are talented and available for cheap, but we’re not there yet.
So while Manuel Akanji is a solid player and will improve whatever club he joins, I doubt that team is going to be Arsenal.