Arsenal identify 3 defenders as summer transfer targets

  • Profile of defender wanted for this summer identified
  • Arsenal moving away from Oleksandr Zinchenko
  • Jarrad Branthwaite among potential targets
Jarrad Branthwaite could be targeted by Arsenal this summer
Jarrad Branthwaite could be targeted by Arsenal this summer / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Arsenal will aim to sign a new defender this summer, with Mikel Arteta reportedly keen to move away from the Oleksandr Zinchenko profile of left-back in favour of greater steel.

Zinchenko played a key role for the Gunners last season after joining from Manchester City in the summer of 2022. While the Ukrainian had his flaws defensively, the quality he provided in possession largely outweighed any drawbacks in year one.

However, Arsenal's collapse and draw at Anfield in April 2023 seemed to signal the beginning of the end for Zinchenko in north London. Jurrien Timber, a sturdy and versatile defender capable of playing across the backline, was signed ahead of the 2023/24 campaign, but the Dutchman has been out since August after tearing his ACL.

Despite Timber's absence, Arteta has generally preferred Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior over the inverting Zinchenko at left-back this season, especially during the run-in. Arsenal's reported defensive targets could signal the end of the Ukrainian international at the Emirates this summer.

Arsenal identify 3 defenders as summer transfer targets

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Arsenal could move on from Oleksandr Zinchenko this summer / MB Media/GettyImages

Arsenal are aiming to shift away from the Zinchenko mould of defender with Arteta once again taking inspiration from mentor Pep Guardiola. The Gunners, as Man City started last season and Tony Pulis did all those years ago at Stoke, have almost exclusively deployed four centre-backs across their defence.

Timber, who typically played as a centre-back at Ajax, was signed to be the club's starting left-back.

The Dutchman will hopefully be ready to go for the start of 2024/25, but Arsenal are set to make a move or two in defence. According to Arsenal insider Team News and Tix (via now.arsenal), Arteta wants to sign a defender who can operate at left-back and provide cover for Gabriel.

Arsenal's left-back has typically inverted since the start of last season to form a 3-2 build-up structure, although greater variance has been on display this season. Arteta could evolve his build-up further by having the profile of defender noted above operate as part of a back three in possession to allow Ben White to operate further upfield.

Ajax's Jorrel Hato, whom the club were linked with in January, as well as Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite and Nottingham Forest's Murillo have been touted as possibilities.

While Tomiyasu, Timber, and Kiwior would all remain options for Arteta, Zinchenko's career in north London would surely draw to a close. The Gunners are heading in an even sturdier, and perhaps more risk-averse, direction.