Nicolas Nkoulou has reportedly emerged as a top defensive target for Arsenal, who are eyeing a £12 million January move for the Torino centre-back.
Arsenal’s defensive crisis has reached its peak, with Unai Emery’s side facing plenty of problems due to injuries and form. The Sun reports that the Gunners are chasing Torino’s Nicolas Nkoulou in a £12 million January transfer to solve their defensive issues. The Cameroon captain has been in inspiring form this season, and Emery sees him as a quick fix to his leaky defence.
Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis were forming a promising partnership at the back only for Holding to suffer an untimely, season-ending injury in December. Since then, Arsenal’s defensive woes have spiralled out of control, with several other vital players falling prey to injuries.
Crucial stars such as Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are yet to properly recover during which time Arsenal have dropped many essential points. Holding’s unfortunate injury, coupled with Laurent Koscielny’s critically managed return from his own long-term injury, have seen Emery deploy midfielder Granit Xhaka at the back.
While the stop-gap solution worked for some time, the Arsenal boss does not view it as a long-term option and is thus, keen on reinforcing his defence during the January transfer window.
Currently, Arsenal have Sokratis and Koscielny as their only fully fit centre-backs. Other options include the inexperienced Konstantinos Mavropanos and Calum Chambers, who is on loan at Fulham. Emery has categorically denied the idea of recalling Chambers from his loan spell, meaning the Gunners might dip into the market.
The Gunners have been linked with other players such as Fernando Calero of Real Valladolid, Chelsea’s Gary Cahill as well as an ambitious move for Manchester United’s Eric Bailly. Interest in those targets though, has cooled off considerably, and Arsenal have now turned their focus on Nicolas Nkoulou.
The Turin-based side may not have been in inspiring attacking form this season, but their defence has been solid. Torino have the fourth-best defensive record in Serie A, and a major credit for that is goes to Nkoulou for his exceptional performances. His superb form has now attracted Arsenal’s interest, and Emery believes he could be the solution to his side’s problems.
The 28-year-old has been playing in Europe since 2007, having represented AS Monaco, Marseille and Lyon. Torino acquired his services last summer, paying £3.15 million to Lyon following a successful loan spell last season. With less than 18 months left in his current deal at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, the club could be tempted to cash in on Arsenal’s £12 million bid.
All things considered, the Cameroon international’s form might be what Arsenal need at the moment and considering his price tag and age, Nkoulou might just suit the Gunners.