Tariq Lamptey has been touted to be a possible option to replace Hector Bellerin at Arsenal. The Hard Tackle assesses the transfer and if it can work out.
When one thinks about Arsenal in the past half-a-decade or so, the one adjective that stands out for them is instability. No longer are the Gunners a certainty to make the UEFA Champions League at the end of a season. In fact, in recent years, the north Londoners have had to work hard to qualify for even the Europa League.
In the last couple of seasons, Arsenal have even seen three managers, which has meant that they have not been able to progress under a singular ideology. However, with Mikel Arteta in-charge at the Emirates, there seems to be some growth being shown, albeit in a gradual manner for the most part.
The results have not been the most pleasant ones at times, but it is clear that the squad has been moving in the right direction to an extent. In particular, defence seems to be in safe hands under the tutelage of Arteta, with Arsenal boasting the joint-third-best defensive record in the Premier League this season.
While that has come with the cost of poor output in the final third, the improvements shown at the back gives a reason to be optimistic. However, ahead of the summer transfer window, it looks like the first-team squad appears to be set for major surgery, with the defensive unit also likely to be addressed, although they could be forced to do so.
Hector Bellerin, who is currently one of Arsenal’s longest-serving players, has been heavily linked with a move away from the Emirates, with a number of suitors emerging in his pursuit. In order to fill the void that he will potentially leave, they have reportedly identified Tariq Lamptey as a target. But is the former Chelsea full-back the right player to replace Bellerin at Arsenal?
Lamptey has now been at Brighton & Hove Albion for just over a year after sealing a move from Chelsea in January 2020. And, in this time, the young defender has gone on to establish himself as one of the most promising full-backs within the Premier League while also having become a key figure for the Seagulls.
His qualities do make him an excellent proponent for Arsenal, considering Lamptey possesses an electric burst of pace that lets him open up space to send in dangerous deliveries from the right flank. This is something that Bellerin has lacked in the last few years, with his injury problems gradually robbing him of his erstwhile trademark pacy outlet.
In addition, Lamptey’s crossing abilities would also add another dimension to Arsenal’s attack, which has often tended to be one-dimensional because of a lack of width higher up the pitch. The 20-year-old’s outlook in the final third also makes him the ideal foil for new Arsenal talisman Bukayo Saka, who could potentially create a formidable tandem with his fellow English youngster.
Lamptey’s abilities also make him a better player to pursue than another target for the right-back slot – Max Aarons. While Aarons has continued his upward trajectory at Norwich City in the EFL Championship this season and is potentially as intimidating a threat when charging down the right flank as Lamptey is, there are a few major shortcomings in his game.
These were largely felt last season when Aarons was extremely vulnerable to being overrun during the defensive phases of the game. While the youngster has not been as overpowered in the second tier, there are clear frailties in his game that can be easily exposed by teams on swift counters, which means he might not fit into Arteta’s ideology all that well.
Lamptey, on the other hand, has shown tremendous reading of the game and does not shy away from a crunching tackle. That in itself does make him an ideal fit within the so-called Arteta-ball style while potentially already being an upgrade on Cedric Soares at the very least despite still being in the nascent stages of his career.
As for how he measures up to Bellerin, Lamptey closely resembles the Spanish international from his early days at Arsenal, when he had his serious burst of pace to trouble the opposition defenders. This pace also enabled him to make swift recovery runs during transitions. With Bellerin not really possessing such an electric change of pace anymore, Lamptey could be a viable replacement.
Having said that, one area where he is sorely lacking is presence on the pitch. The young defender’s short frame means that he does not entirely fit into the mould of a modern defender, who boasts of a credible presence at the very least, if not an imposing figure. With Saka also being a little small in stature, Arsenal’s right side could appear to be lightweight at times.
Nevertheless, that is only one minor shortcoming in what is a very impressive CV. If Arsenal do end up taking the plunge on him in the scenario that Bellerin leaves, Lamptey is theoretically the player to pursue within the Premier League to fill in the Spaniard’s boots.