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Less Assured Physically And Tactically – Should Arsenal Replace Nacho Monreal In The Upcoming Window?

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Image result for nacho monreal 2016-17

Arsenal did some very good business in the summer transfer window this year, bringing in players in key areas. Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez have added great value to the squad, rounding off a successful transfer window for the Gunners. However, it may now be the right time for Arsene Wenger to look for a new left-back in the market.

This might not sit well with the Arsenal faithful, given the quality performances Nacho Monreal has been putting out over the last 18 months or so, but the Spaniard has touched 30 now and isn’t getting any younger.

Monreal probably played the best football of his life last season. He was a solid presence at the back for the Gunners averaging 7 defensive actions per game and always provided width down the left-hand side with his regular forays forward creating 28 chances along with three assists in the Premier League. Monreal was a virtual ever-present for Wenger throughout the last term, missing just one Premier League game against North London rivals Tottenham.

But one has to keep in mind that the full-back position is extremely demanding in a physical sense. A player playing as full-back needs to be switched on all the time, keep an eye on the opponent wingers and the onrushing full-backs while at the same time, be on the prowl for an opportunity to bomb forward when the chance presents itself. The energy, the amount of physical work that needs to be put in can drain out players.

Image result for kieran gibbs 2016-17

And Monreal – this season – has looked slightly less assured physically and tactically as well. He has looked like someone who is need of a good rest for quite some time now. Sadio Mane exposed his lack of pace on the opening day of the season and more recently Swansea’s Modou Barrow asked serious questions of him. The fact that Alex Iwobi doesn’t track back to assist the Spaniard is of no help either.

A promising left-back coming through the ranks would have made the situation ideal for Wenger and Arsenal. However, their only backup at this time, Kieran Gibbs has flattered to deceive. The Englishman, despite his abundance of talents, has struggled to wrestle the left-back position from Monreal for two years now. And when he has gotten his chances, Gibbs has looked highly inconsistent in his performances.

The 27-year old’s contract is set to expire in the summer of 2018 and unless he is promised regular first-team action, it doesn’t look likely that Gibbs will sign an extension with the Gunners. Reports have emerged recently saying Wenger might look to cash in on the Englishman as early as January with Crystal Palace interested in signing the defender. However, that might not turn out to be the case in reality.

But given the recent drop in the level of performances of Monreal and the contract situation of Gibbs, it will clearly do some good for Arsenal if they look to bring in a new left-back, maybe in the summer if not as early as January.