Wenger seals deal to get Vermaelen mark two for Arsenal
Arsenal are set to complete the £8.5m signing of Lorient defender Laurent Koscielny within the next 24 hours, meaning the Gunner’s central defence is beginning to look a lot sturdier.
Boss Arsene Wenger needs cover for outgoing trio William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell and the 24-year-old Frenchman looks just the ticket.
Arsenal’s defence was often the weakest part of their team last season – shipping 41 league goals – and a Koscielny’s purchase will be the start of a much-needed rejuvination at the back, with only Johan Djourou left as cover for Thomas Vermaelen.
Indeed, Koscielny looks a similar model of defender to the classy Belgian, standing 6’1″, being the same age and proving useful at attacking set pieces.
He scored three times in 35 matches on the way to helping Lorient finish seventh in Ligue 1 last season and should play for France in the near future, despite also being able to turn out for Poland.
The purchase is Wenger’s second summer signing after landing long-term target Marouane Chamakh on a free. Indeed the additions both look astute moves by the professor, adding youth and a strong physical presence to a team with one or two daintier players. Arsenal are 6/1 to win the Premier League title they last claimed in 2004.
Meanwhile Manchester United’s Patrice Evra is reportedly a target for either Barcelona or Juventus.
The left-back is rumoured to be open to the idea of a new challenge, which he would undoutedly get in either Spain or Italy.
The Frenchman played more games for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side than anyone else last season (60) and was one of United’s best attacking options as well as a reliable defender.
Such a loss would be a major blow to the 18-times champions’ hopes of regaining the title, as Evra was given the captain’s armband on numerous occasions last year. Manchester United are 7/4 second-favourites to win the league.
Elsewhere, Everton have lost the services of promising young talent Dan Gosling.
The 20-year-old England Under-21 midfielder has become a free agent after reportedly deciding to walk away from a verbal agreement with the club he signed for two-and-a-half years ago.
The scorer of that winning FA Cup goal over Liverpool looks likely to go to Newcastle United, but West Ham United have also confirmed their interest.
Gosling scored six goals in 44 appearances for the Toffees and has the potential to play a more important role for either United club in their efforts to stay clear of relegation. West Ham are 9/4 to go down, while Newcastle are 11/4 to drop a division.
Can new boy Konscielny help Arsenal win their first game of the new season away to Liverpool? It’s a 9/5 chance. See the full Barclays Premier League 2010/11 betting market.