With Arsenal struck by a farcical centre-half crisis, boss Arsene Wenger’s reported remedy certainly stays true to the Frenchman’s famously risk-averse philosophy.
Per Mertesacker, the 31-year-old German veteran benched by Wenger for much of the late-season run-in last term in favour of Gabriel Paulista, looks likely to miss the rest of 2016 after knee surgery.
He’ll certainly be missed, with the Gunners triumphant in a higher percentage of matches last season (58) with Mertesacker in the starting line up next to Laurent Kocielny than Gabriel (50), but the latter pair manged to go unbeaten in six matches from mid-March onwards, winning half with clean sheets.
The big problem lies with the battered state of Arsenal’s centre-half ranks overall, with Koscielny not back for their US tour after playing all but 18 minutes of France’s run to the Euro 2016 final, while Gabriel is struggling with tonsillitis.
Previously unfancied former Southampton man Calum Chambers, who had one of the worst Premier League halves of last season at home to Liverpool, ceded the centre-half spots to 20-year-old new signing Rob Holding and nominal midfielder Krystian Bielik ahead of Arsenal’s 2-1 win over MLS All-Stars.
Wenger’s strategy of getting value for money by developing youngsters, with 18-year-old Bielik arriving for €3m from Legia Warsaw last year, is clearly at play here, as he tries to ride out a perfect storm of three first-team centre-halves’ absence.
The 66-year-old has promised to buy though, but says he’s put off by the extortionate fees (it’s as if Arsenal didn’t rake in over £100m in Premier League prize money alone last term).
West Brom’s former Manchester United centre-half Jonny Evans is said to be the man to ‘plug the hole’, in the words of the Mirror, with £15m apparently enough cash to tempt the Baggies.
In football’s current financial climate that looks cheap for a 28-year-old with three Premier League winners’ medals, plus countless other experience to his name.
For Evans’ part, the Northern Ireland international might well fancy nailing down a first-team place among the chaos.
Arsenal are 6/1 with bwin to win the Premier League this season.