Premier League giants Arsenal have reportedly joined Marseille and Borussia Dortmund in the race to sign Juventus defender Medhi Benatia.
According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal have identified Medhi Benatia as a top target this summer as they look to strengthen their defence for next season. Benatia becomes the third experienced defender, this summer to be linked with a move to the Emirates, after Sokratis and Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Following the departure of Arsene Wenger, newly appointed head coach Unai Emery has stressed the need of a campaigned defender, who can replace Per Mertesacker next season. The veteran defender retired from football, leaving Arsenal completely shallow in the defensive department. However, the Gunners believe that Benatia can be the perfect man to rekindle their defensive solidity next season.
The Moroccan international moved to Juventus in 2016, on loan from FC Bayern, before making his move to Turin permanent last summer. During his time with the Old Lady, the defender somewhat managed to regain his best form, especially after a horrible stint with the Bavarians. Benatia has made over 50 appearances in his two seasons with Juventus, helping the club win back-to-back doubles.
That being said, the 31-year-old has still found it difficult to nail down a regular place in the first team, with head coach Massimiliano Allegri often freezing him out of the starting eleven for the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.
In addition, the breakout of youngster Daniele Rugani, who is tipped to replace the 37-year-old Barzagli, hasn’t helped either. The 23-year-old amassed 1,935 minutes of league football this past season, minimizing Benatia’s overall game time in the process, which seems to have piqued the interest of suitors, including Arsenal, as a result.
Therefore, a move out of Italy seems like a logical move for Benatia, with Arsenal, in particular, looking likely to become the perfect suitor for the Moroccan international. After an unimpressive 2017-18 campaign, the Gunners are in dire need of some defensive reinforcements in the upcoming summer transfer window and Benatia can prove to be a massive boost for the North London giants.
While the highly experienced Mertesacker has already hung up his boots, youngster Calum Chambers’s long-term future with the club is uncertain. In addition, the likes of Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavrapanos are too young and inexperienced to be given the responsibility of taking charge of Arsenal’s defence in the forthcoming season, especially with Laurent Koscielny out with a long-term injury.
Hardened by years of experience, Benatia is definitely an answer to Arsenal’s defensive problems next season and is no doubt an upgrade to Sokratis, considering his huge set of skill-set on the defensive front coupled with his superior aerial abilities, something Arsenal have lacked in the last few years.
The Moroccan is bound to Juventus till 2020 and with the likes of Marseille and Borussia Dortmund also chasing the defender, Arsenal will likely have to shell out a huge sum in order to acquire his services next season.