Arsenal Opinion: Why the Gunners should make a move for Aissa Mandi?
Back in February, the El Desmarque claimed Arsenal were one of the clubs interested in signing Real Betis defender Aissa Mandi. (h/t Football Espana)
Mandi, 27, joined Real Betis in 2016 from Reims and has proven to be a consistent performer at the club, managing 48 appearances across all competitions last season. He impressed in a three-man backline under Quique Setien this past campaign, although Betis finished tenth in the La Liga table.
The Algerian international is a strong defender who is a commanding presence inside his own box. He can lead his defence with authority and conviction, whilst bringing out the ball from the back with utmost ease. The 27-year-old is an excellent reader of the game as he tends to be at the right place at the right time to clear the lines.
A tenacious tackler, Mandi can also make well-timed challenges to win the ball back for his team. He’s versatile as he can do a decent job at right-back when required.
And this gives the managers the tactical versatility to use him according to the opponent. The ex-Reims man doesn’t fluster in pressure situations and has the confidence to play out from the back – the traits needed in a modern-day defender.
It’s probably needless to say that Mandi has the quality to thrive in a league as competitive as the Premier League. He has the quality as well as the experience, and the fact that he is coming off from a strong campaign with Betis makes him an ideal target for Arsenal.
The acquisition of Mandi will undoubtedly bolster Unai Emery’s defensive options at the North London club.
Given his strong performances in the La Liga, the Algerian international would be able to manage the pressure of playing for Arsenal next season. He would be a straight upgrade over any current defender Emery has at his disposal at the Emirates.
Arsenal’s biggest area of weakness is central defence and their most important signing this summer has to be in that position. Barring Sokratis Papastathopoulos, none of the defenders were consistent which resulted in Emery’s side leaking over 50 goals in the Premier League this past season.
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That being said, the Gunners should not hesitate to reignite their interest in Mandi as the Betis defender can help tighten the North London club’s backline.
Mandi has already shown that he is capable of playing at a higher level of football.
His aggressive style of play could be ideally suited to the fast-paced nature of the Premier League, making him a tailor-made fit for Emery’s Arsenal as they attempt to rejuvenate their squad ahead of the new season.