Why Arsenal should make a move for Nicolas Nkoulou in January
Back in January, a report from the Sun had claimed that Arsenal were interested in signing Torino defender Nicolas Nkoulou. In the end, however, no deal materialised.
Nicolas Nkoulou, 29, had a solid last season with Torino as he made 36 Serie A appearances, scoring two goals. He was one of the consistent performers for the club, helping Walter Mazzarri’s side finish seventh in 2018/19.
At 29, the Cameroonian is operating at the peak of his powers and could be tempted to test himself in the Premier League. Having said that, Arsenal must rekindle their interest in Nicolas Nkoulou when the transfer window reopens in a few months’ time.
Arsenal signed William Saliba, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney in the summer transfer window to strengthen their defensive ranks after leaking over 50 goals last season. While Saliba returned to Saint-Etienne on a season-long loan, Luiz and Tierney were practically the two defenders that arrived at the Emirates.
Luiz has proven nothing but a liability for the Gunners, with the ex-Chelsea defender making a couple of calamitous errors at the back. He was blasted for giving away a penalty against Liverpool earlier this season, with a lazy tug on Mohamed Salah handing the Reds the chance to double their lead at Anfield.
The Brazilian has kept just one clean sheet for Arsenal so far this season, in the Europa League clash against Eintracht Frankfurt, but that’s simply not enough for a player of his experience and stature.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos has also looked a tad shaky at the back, but Unai Emery will be relieved having Rob Holding back from a long-term injury.
Holding and Calum Chambers are considered as future for the Gunners and while they both are more than capable of starting week in and week out, Emery’s side lack a real leader at the back.
That’s where the signing of Nkoulou makes sense. Nkoulou led Cameroon to African Nations Cup glory in 2017 and won the French League Cup with Marseille in 2012. He has been among Europe’s elite since joining AS Monaco in 2007. That clearly speaks volumes of his European experience and why he could make an instant impact at the Emirates.
A central defender by trade, the Cameroon international can operate as a defensive midfielder as well due to his composure on the ball. He is a good reader of the game at the back in the air as well as off the ground and has the ability to break up the play with tackles and interceptions.
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All in all, Nkoulou might just be the commanding presence that Arsenal need at the back to shore up their leaky defence.
Likely to be on the cheap side, the signing of Nkoulou would take the Gunners to the next level and finally stem the flow of goals.