With Arsenal in the midst of an injury crisis, Arsene Wenger is being rumoured to be dipping into the transfer market to bring Barcelona’s Jeremy Mathieu centre-back to the club.
Arsenal fans have been calling for reinforcements all summer but now it's a necessity as opposed to an indulgence. With Per Mertesacker and Gabriel injured for the foreseeable future and Laurent Koscielny not match fit having only returned to training last week following on from his Euro 2016 participation, the Gunners are having to use a centre-back pairing made up of two from Calum Chambers, new signing Rob Holding or young Polish defender Krystian Bielik. Hardly ideal for a club with title aspirations.
So what's next for Arsenal? The club have agreed a deal with Valencia's 24-year-old Shkodran Mustafi (FW Index 4.6), but with negotiations over a fee being drawn out Arsenal could yet move their interest to Barca’s utility man Mathieu.
The 32-year-old joined the Catalan giants – as coincidence would have it, from Valencia – in the summer of 2014 and has since gone on to make over 70 appearances in his two seasons at the club but a lot of those have come as a substitute.
With Barcelona bringing in Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti – the player who replaced Mathieu in France's Euro 2016 squad – it looks like the club are looking to the future.
Both players are primarily left-sided centre-backs, as well as being able to play at left-back, they will be in direct competition with one another for the same roles within the squad.
The Spanish club have also brought in French full-back Lucas Digne, further narrowing the roles available for Umtiti and Mathieu to play. With this in mind, Barcelona may be open to selling Mathieu for the right offer.
By no means would Mathieu be a long-term solution for Arsenal. He'd be nothing more than a quick fix given the player turns 33 in October. He'd be the experienced head to help talk the likes of Chambers and Holding through games. depending on who he partnered. His experience would be invaluable and, given the current circumstances at the Emirates, could prove very welcome.
The way in which Arsenal play the game, in it's purest form looking to build from the back, it means identifying centre-backs is difficult. They not only have to be defensively solid but they need to be comfortable when in possession.
A lot of centre-backs these days seem as though they are auditioning for the famous Peter Kay John Smith's beer advert… with their ‘ave it clearances!
Mathieu has experience of playing the Tiki-Taka way out from the back while at Barcelona and could prove a perfect fit for Arsenal.
He averaged an 88% pass success rate over the past two seasons at Barcelona. He seems to pick up just the five yellow cards per season so indiscipline is not a problem.
His record aerially does not look the strongest: winning just over one per 90 minutes during his time at Barcelona – although context is necessary; La Liga teams do not pepper the opposition with aerial balls like some do in England, and not many teams have enough of the ball to really trouble Barcelona.
Acquiring Mathieu would be a shrewd bit of business on Wenger's part. He's not going to demand to play every single week and would bring a winning mentality and winning experience to the squad.
Arsenal have many versatile defensive players and learning from a player who has done the job at Barcelona will be nothing but a positive. The likes of Chambers and Holding can learn how to become an Allen key for a club challenging for honours on a yearly basis.
The only sticking point for Arsenal may be the fee Barcelona demand. The La Liga holders are in no rush to sell the player and rumours are it will cost £15 million to pry Mathieu away. Would Wenger be comfortable parting with that much money for a squad player coming to the end of his career? Keep your eyes peeled on this one.