The name of then-Olympiakos defender Kostas Minolas was frequently uttered in the Arsenal quarters last summer. He was considered a primary target for Wenger and it seemed a matter of time before the club would break the news of his signature. It was then that fate intervened in the form of Italian giants Roma and prized away the defender from the expectant hands of the Gunners with a bid of £11 million.
Fast forward a year , and the 24-year-old centre back has been a huge success at Roma and has firmly established himself in the starting lineup. Considered by many as the best signing the Giallorossi made last season , the Greece International has been mooted as the lynchpin of the team’s defense for the next decade.
However, football has a funny way of reuniting yourself with your targets. Arsene Wenger will attest to that fact , as after losing out on both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in successive years , he now has both under his wing with another in Karim Benzema mooted to follow soon. Life seems to have come full circle for Manolas now, as just a year after Wenger lost out on him , the player has again been linked with a move to the Gunners.
Reports emerging in La Gazzetta Dello Sport are claiming that Arsenal have opened talks with Roma and Minolas’ agent Mino Raiola about a potential move to the Emirates this summer. The publication also mentions that though the Italian club are likely to reject any approach for their star defender and are primed to play hardball over his transfer, Wenger believes that he might just be lucky the second time.
Arsenal are seemingly in the market for a new central defender , as they have linked with a move for Argentina International Ezequiel Garay too in the past few days.
This will come as a surprise to most of the Gunners as the club already have adequate backup in the centre back position, having signed Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal in January and Calum Chambers waiting in the wings. Lorient Koscielny and Per Mertesacker remain a formidable pairing at the heart of defence , and hence , the chances of Wenger making an addition in that spot looked slim, if any.
However, with reports linking Mertesacker with a return to a club in his native Germany , Wenger’s interest in a centre back appears reasonable enough, because Paulista has not yet been tested at the top level much, while Chambers is still raw and not ready to shoulder the pressure of being a starter week-in,week-out. Garay, as well as Manolas, have Champions League experience under their belt and will therefore appear a reasonable bet to Wenger to partner Koscielny.
The chances of any sort of deal materializing look slim at the moment , as the paper says claims that Roma consider the centre-back as indispensable and will therefore block any sale this summer.
However, many in the Arsenal camp believe that it is just a ploy by the Italian club in their bid to extract maximum return for their investment. At 24 years of age , Manolas has his best years ahead of him. Arsenal fans will be desperately hoping those years are spent by the player calling Emirates his home.