Five possible replacements for Arsenal’s Gael Clichy

Gael Clichy looks to be on his way out of the Emirates this summerWith the summer transfer window on the horizon will Arsenal be on the search for a new left back, replacing Gael Clichy, who has been frequently linked with a move to Spain and Italy.

Clichy who joined Arsenal in 2003, has amassed 182 appearances, where he won the Premier League in his first whole season, the Community Shield in 2004 and finally the FA Cup the following year. The Frenchman has undoubtedly fantastic attacking ability which is one of the main characteristics that has caught the eye of teams such as Juventus and Real Madrid. This campaign may be his last as it looks like a summer move to Spain will be on the cards as contract talks continue to stall, ending his eight year spell at the club.

For Arsenal fans this could mean anything up to 15million pounds in return, but losing Clichy will obviously be a huge loss, so who will they replace him with?

With Arsene Wenger in charge, it is likely that he will stick to his philosophy of sticking with his young players that have been nurtured through the academy, with that in mind the obvious replacement is the 21 year old Englishmen, Kieran Gibbs. The young starlet has been very impressive in his short senior team career even impressing the England boss Fabio Capello warranting a call up to the National team, where he made is full international debut in August 2010, but a reoccurring metatarsal injury has hit the youngster in consecutive seasons, denting his development and involvement with football. As a potential international left back replacement for Ashley Cole, it is pivotal that Gibbs becomes a regular at Arsenal. With the loss of Clichy, Wenger will still have to find another left-back to strengthen the depth in that position, with the unpredictability of Gibbs’ reoccurring injuries meaning that he will need either a replacement or a secure injury-free player.

A forgotten man in recent years, Armand Traore has been on loan for the last few years at both Portsmouth and currently Juventus. He has been said to have bags of talent that they are trying to develop by allowing him to earn his trade by gaining first team football elsewhere. Once he has returned to Arsenal he and Kieran Gibbs could battle it out for an opportunity to become Arsenal’s first choice left back. In the 12 appearances that he made for Arsenal, it can’t be said that he had the best of times on the pitch, often making mistakes, and showing signs that he may have been selected too soon, as he looked terribly of the pace. This resulted in him shortly going off to Portsmouth on loan.

If Wenger does decided to find another replacement for Clichy, Marseille’s 25year old, Taye Tawio has been rumoured to be top of Wenger’s shopping list. The big Nigerian has won 40 caps for his country and is renowned for his attacking forays and his ferociously accurate long-range shots. With Clichy’s contract set to expire in the summer of 2012 and with the Frenchman refusing to begin contract talks, Arsenal could be forced into the situation where they lose their star left-back for nothing! However, Tawio’s contract is also set to expire at the end of June this year and will be something on the mind of Wenger, as capturing the signing of Tawio for a free transfer will be more than just appealing. Unfortunately the Nigerians power is something that does not fit into the current philosophy of Arsenal Football Club, they are more about small technically quality players who play quick, slick football. This is something that Tawio would have to learn if he is subject to a summer move to the London based club.

Surprisingly in recent times, the Everton left back Leighton Baines has also been linked to the Gunners. Baines has been consistently one of Everton’s best players over the past two years. Unlike most left-backs in the modern game who are all about bombing down the line and contain no real defensive qualities, Baines is one of those rare talents, who has a great blend of defensive and attacks forays, particularly when stood over a dead-ball situation. This consistent form saw him get his first international call-up in March 2009. Disappointingly for him, he has only managed to make four caps since then, this is more likely to do with Ashley Cole (one of the best left-backs in the world) standing in his place and nothing to do with his ability. The Toffee’s left back could come at a cost of £10 million, which may be a price tag that could put off the Arsenal manager, as the free transfer of Tawio would suit his preferences more.

Finally the most unexpected transfer target for Arsenal is the Honduran international Emilo Izaguirre, who currently plays his football for Celtic. The 24 year old was hugely impressive in his Celtic debut, gaining plaudits from his boss Neil Lennon and even the opposition manager Craig Brown! He has been a consistent fixture in the Celtic set-up since his arrival in the summer of 2010. He would be the biggest gamble out of the five players that I have mentioned, as the gulf between the quality of SPL and Premier League Football is vast, to say the least!

If Gael Clichy does run-down his contract at Arsenal and then move on to the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Juventus, then I strongly believe that Arsenal need to bring through Kieran Gibbs because he is a future England star and needs the first team football to help his development, particularly because of his injury setbacks in recent years. By purchasing either Tawio or Izaguirre, it will just prove and increase the problem that with the influx of foreign players to the Premier League it is hindering the national side’s development. Although Baines is also English, I don’t feel that he is the ability to play at the highest Champions League level and compete effectively.

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