In the spare minutes between waving Thomas Vermaelen off to Barcelona and celebrating Arsenal’s Community Shield triumph over Manchester City, Arsene Wenger has been thumbing the Yellow Pages in search of a high-class centre-back who’s happy enough playing second-fiddle to his first-choice stoppers.
Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are currently enjoying a monopolisation of the Gunners’ first-choice centre-half berths, but Wenger needs cover in the wake of the Belgian’s departure.
The north Londoners stand as 7/4 second-favourites to win the Premier League with front-runners Chelsea and Manchester City removed from the reckoning, but a of lack reinforcements in such a key position is sure to prove detrimental to their chances.
Liverpool’s Daniel Agger is the man Wenger reportedly wants to plug the void, an international standard rearguard marshal with almost ten years experience in the top-tier.
The Dane has long been expected to move to the Nou Camp, but Barca’s hiring of the Verminator – a fellow left-sided centre-back – the Catalan door looks to have closed.
With his current employers keen to offload, a potential transfer to Arsenal has increased in feasibility, but how does Agger measure up against the man he’d be replacing?
Here are their stats from the 2012/13 campaign, the last season in which both featured prominently for their respective clubs:
Defensively, their numbers are well balanced, with Vermaelen’s higher tackles-per-match average possibly explained by his tendency to burst out of the backline to win the ball back.
Agger was the superior reader of the game, only just, while his elevated pass completion stats would ensure he fits in with the Arsenal ethos of possession-retention.
The Gunners regular centre-back twosome’s passes hit their mark over 91 per cent of the time last year and their better radars are one of the reasons for Wenger’s favouritism, which means the Liverpool man is likely to enjoy a better time at the Emirates than the man he’s potentially replacing did.