Arsenal report: London rivals' captain to join – and repeat Sol Campbell trick from two decades ago
Arsenal are planning an audacious move to sign a new leader from another London club this summer.
The Gunners have led the table for 93 per cent of the season – yet following the capitulation away at Manchester City in the week, look set to lose out on the title after all. City are now ahead of the Gunners in the table with a game in hand and may have to drop points in three of their last six fixtures to hand Arsenal the league.
Some have blamed the lack of leadership and experience on such a "bottling" – something that Mikel Arteta looks set to address this summer.
According to The Sun, Arsenal are chasing Crystal Palace star Marc Guehi to address the issues in their defence. The Gunners have fallen apart at the back since losing the hugely influential William Saliba to a back injury, conceding more goals from set pieces. In bringing the 22-year-old Eagle north of the river, the Gunners could well address their problems – while evoking memories of another notable transfer.
In 2001, the Gunners signed Sol Campbell on a free transfer from their bitterest foes, Tottenham Hotspur. Though Guehi would not be seen as nearly as incendiary a deal, the principles of the deal would be similar.
Campbell was signed at a time where the majority of the rest of the Arsenal defence was set, just as it is now. The Gunners were bringing a player who had captained another London club in the Premier League not just for his physical traits but for his leadership abilities and organisational nous at the back, offering him Champions League football and a crack at the title – not unlike what they could offer Guehi now.
Campbell facilitated a move to a much more athletic defence for Arsene Wenger, while Guehi could do the same for Arteta, eventually replacing Gabriel next to Saliba at the back.
Though it's early days with the rumour, Palace would likely look for £50 million for Guehi, who has captained them since joining at the start of last season. Whether Arsenal would spend that much on a sixth central defender remains to be seen, with defensive midfield and another forward still the priority.
The former Chelsea man is valued at €35m by Transfermarkt.
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Arsenal are already being linked with a host of big names ahead of a summer back in the Champions League.
Mason Mount is an option in midfield, with Juventus star Dusan Vlahovic and Bayer Leverkusen's Moussa Diaby rumoured in the attack. Both Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins and Crystal Palace star Wilf Zaha are on the radar, too. Younger stars are interesting the Gunners, too: Vitor Roque might end up at the Emirates, while Flamengo's Matheus Franca is being watched.
Meanwhile, cult hero Mathieu Flamini has refused to rule out a move to buy Arsenal.