Pitchside

Should Arsenal swoop for Hummels?

Pitchside

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It’s been a busy summer already at Arsenal and fans are already proving optimistic about the season ahead, with Alexis Sanchez having been brought in at great expense to give them an extra edge up front and Mathieu Debuchy coming in as an adequate replacement for the departed Bacary Sagna.

The Gunners also moved quickly to bring in Calum Chambers from Southampton and secure one of the brightest prospects in England, but their work on the defence may not be over yet, with reports suggesting that an Arsenal move for Mats Hummels may be imminent as well.

Hummels has been on the radars of both Barcelona and Manchester United this summer, but with the Gunners still having a large chunk of their transfer budget to spend, they are reportedly willing to beat the offers being prepared by their European rivals, with the offer of Champions League football giving them the edge over United.

Dortmund are adamant they do not want to sell, but money talks and there is an inevitable feeling that there is a point where the German club will have to relent and give their star defender the opportunity to try his hand in a bigger league and earn higher wages than Dortmund could ever offer.

But there is a sense that as good as Hummels is, he may not be a player they need right now, given the success of the defensive partnership last season and the arrival of Chambers, with Arsene Wenger predominantly seeing the former Southampton man as a central defender more than the right-back position he often frequented at St Mary’s last season.

With a young player like that, one does not want to hamper their route into the first team too much and with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny having formed one of the best central partnerships in the Premier League last season, breaking that up would not immediately appear to be in Arsenal’s best interests.

It took until February for Mertesacker and Koscielny to taste defeat when paired together for the Gunners last season, and while back-up is obviously required as and when injuries or fatigue hit, there is no way a World Cup winner like Hummels comes in to play second fiddle, given his reputation as one of the finest defenders in Europe currently.

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Injuries restricted the German to just 23 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund last season, but he still managed to win 109 headed duels over the course of the year, recording a 70% success rate in the air, making him far more prolific than any of the current crop at Arsenal.

His reading of the game also enabled him to make 57 interceptions for the German club, making 2.62 for every 90 minutes of action he faced, with only Koscielny boasting more in that timescale, while Hummels also won more tackles per 90, though he trailed to Chambers, who has made a very impressive start to his senior career.

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Arsenal already have a decent partnership at the back that doesn’t need playing with too much and while the likely departure of Thomas Vermaelen is thought to be imminent, having a player like Hummels come in would unfairly relegate one of Koscielny or Mertesacker to the bench.

With Chambers having already been recruited and having a lot of promise, a major purchase such as Hummels would limit his opportunities in the first team in that central position, and stunting his progress is not something Arsenal will want to do having spent over £10million to bring him to the Emirates.

Hummels is a fine player and would improve practically any team in Europe, but there is a sense his purchase would disrupt the harmony in the Arsenal squad that saw them lift silverware last season.

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