Why Arsenal made a big blunder by missing out on Eder Balanta
In June, a report from the Daily Mirror had claimed that Arsenal were offered a chance to sign Colombia defender Eder Balanta from FC Basel during the summer transfer window. But the Gunners didn’t go for the FC Basel defender; instead, they signed William Saliba and David Luiz from Saint-Etienne and Chelsea respectively.
William Saliba returned to Saint-Etienne on a season-long loan after signing for Arsenal, leaving Unai Emery with David Luiz as the only central defensive recruit.
Luiz, 32, was a deadline day addition to the Gunners’ backline, brought in as a replacement for the departed Laurent Koscielny.
The Brazilian, who is an experienced, ball-playing defender, certainly hasn’t got off to a bright start to his Arsenal career. He was guilty of conceding two of the goals Liverpool scored in the 3-1 victory at Anfield last weekend.
During the match, Liverpool were given a penalty after Luiz fouled Mohamed Salah in the box, with the Egyptian then stepping up to convert the spot-kick just moments later.
In the build-up to the Reds’ third goal, Salah easily skipped past Luiz before going on to slot home, and should the Brazilian defender had fouled the Egyptian during that time, he would’ve almost certainly been shown a second yellow card.
To put things into perspective, Emery has made a big mistake by making only one central defensive recruit in Luiz.
The former Chelsea star may be one of the best ball-playing defenders in the division but he has always had lapses of concentration and poor decision making throughout his career. In a bid to solve Arsenal’s defensive woes, Emery should’ve signed Eder Balanta, who was then available for around £4m.
Eder Balanta, 26, was once regarded as one of the best prospects to have emerged from South America. However, he has failed to kick on the last couple of seasons at FC Basel with injuries playing a big role. Nevertheless, he is only 26 and the Gunners could have enjoyed the best years of his career.
Along with his speed and agility, the Colombian international possesses strength and balance and his versatility allows him to also operate as a left-back and holding midfielder.
He is a powerful player who doesn’t get shrugged off the ball easily. It also helps the 26-year-old to win aerial duels against centre-forwards and be a threat from set-pieces in the opposition box.
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Balanta’s ability to lead by example on and off the pitch would’ve been fantastic and he would’ve added some stability to the Gunners’ backline as well.
At a paltry fee in the region of just £4m, Arsenal could have bagged a massive coup in Balanta. The Colombian might have not been a world-beater, but he could have certainly added a wealth of talent to Emery’s squad.