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Arsenal exploring Jurrien Timber replacements

The Gunners may try to fill the gap created by the Dutchman’s injury.

Arsenal FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

In the few days since Jurrien Timber’s serious knee injury was confirmed, Arsenal have been linked with several fullback loan / transfer options to fill the gap in the roster. The Gunners have been connected with Iván Fresneda, Kyle Walker-Peters, Timothy Castagne, João Cancelo, and Aymeric Laporte.

That’s all to be expected, of course. Not that Arsenal will necessarily bring anybody in. The rumor mill spinning into overdrive bit. It’s not clear the Gunners will or should bring anybody in. On the one hand, the defensive depth is more or less where it was last season, and we all saw how that went when Oleksandr Zinchenko struggled with injury. The Gunners are worse off this season with one fewer option on the backline.

On the other hand, Jurrien Timber cost £40M and was signed to a 5-year contract. He’ll be back next season (if not earlier). If Arsenal bring somebody in, that could complicate the roster building and minutes distribution going forward. And that’s assuming the club even have the funds available to make a meaningful addition right now.

Perhaps the best course of action would be to move forward whatever addition the club were planning to make in January / next summer. That assumes several things — the club are targeting another fullback in an upcoming window, that player is available now, and the Gunners can make it happen with the current resources and whatever FFP limitations currently exist.

  • Iván Fresneda: Arsenal have been linked with the 18 year old Valladolid right back before, but he seems much closer to a Barcelona move. There are even reports of an agreement already in place for him to sign with the Catalan giants. Real Madrid are reportedly interested in him as well. He’s probably the most attractive long-term / squad-building option on the list. But he also probably the least polished option, too.

He’s big, strong, and pacey, which make him very good at winning the ball back. In possession, he can stay wide and overlap, but he’s most coveted for his ability to invert, to step into central areas as has become the trend among fullbacks.

  • Kyle Walker-Peters / Timothy Castagne: Arsenal were linked with both fullbacks at the start of the summer when their clubs were relegated to the Championship. Both are solid, Premier League-tested players who are above-average on the ball. Neither are particularly exciting, but they’d come relatively cheap. They would add depth but wouldn’t necessarily be any better than Jakub Kiwior or Takehiro Tomiyasu.
  • João Cancelo: as with the other “candidates” on the list, Arsenal have been linked with Cancelo in the past. Like Fresneda, Cancelo seems close to a move to Barcelona. Arsenal would likely be priced out of a permanent move. Given the club’s recent transfer strategy, it seems unlikely that they’d deviate from what seems to be a planned, structured approach to spend big money on a 29-year old in response to an injury.

That leaves a loan, and something tells me that Arsenal don’t care to loan in a player who can’t help them against Manchester City. And City reportedly aren’t keen on helping Arsenal improve their roster either, especially after the leap forward the Gunners took following the additions of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

  • Aymeric Laporte: the Spanish international is in the shop window, but a move to Arsenal seems unlikely for the same reasons that a move for João Cancelo is unlikely. He’s also more of a centerback, although he has deputized on the left in the past.

Here’s a look at the stats from some of the linked targets. Noussair Mazraoui, while included in Scott’s tweet, hasn’t recently been linked with Arsenal. But he does tick the “linked with the Gunners in the past” box that seems to be a common thread. The right back expressed discontent with his playing time at Bayern Munich last season.

Right now, it doesn’t seem particularly likely that Arsenal will make a move, but that’s just my early read of the tea leaves. There doesn’t seem to be much to the rumors beyond Arsenal having been linked with the players in the past. None of the usual suspects have reported the links, either.

But these days, you can never rule anything out with Edu and Mikel Arteta. They smartly hold at least some of their transfer cards close to their chests.