In pictures: Arsenal v Man Utd
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Arsenal must prioritise their pursuit of right-back Djed Spence now that Mikel Arteta has found a suitable cover for first-choice left-back Kieran Tierney. It has been revealed that Takehiro Tomiyasu can play in both fullback roles, and if he is deployed on the left then recruiting viable backup will become a priority.
Mikel Arteta has been struggling to find his best possible back four of late after it was revealed that Tierney was having to undergo surgery that has ruled him out until the end of the season. Nuno Tavares and Granit Xhaka have both attempted to fill the vacancy left by the Scottish international.
However, Arteta has revealed that Tomiyasu is capable of filling in as well. But in those instances, another right-back option is required if the summer signing is forced onto the left – and Middlesbrough star Spence looks the likeliest candidate.
Speaking about Tomiyasu’s left-back ability ahead of the West Ham game this weekend, Arteta explained: “When we follow the player and we identify him as one of the candidates, obviously it one of the things that I came across and it gives you a lot of solutions.
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“Not only because he can use both feet, but he can play right centre-back, left centre-back, he can play left-back so that gives you enormous variability. And it’s the way they’ve been raised and coached since a really young age, that’s what he says so for him, left and right is the same.”
Cedric Soares has been Tomiyasu’s cover whilst the Japan international was out with injury, whilst Ben White has also moved into the right-back role on occasions too due to Soares putting in some shaky displays. And for that very reason, Arteta could prioritise upgrading on the former Southampton defender rather than heading into the next season with shaky cover.
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Spence has been in flying form this season out on loan at Nottingham Forest, impressing with his willingness to drive forward and create chances but also being strong defensively. North London rivals Tottenham are also interested in the 21-year-old, with an offer of £20million expected to be enough for Boro to part ways with the young Englishman.
Arsenal have quickly undergone a major revamp under Arteta over the past few seasons, with the Spanish manager committed to investing in youth and building a squad that will improve in time. Spence has already proven in cup competitions that he is capable of going toe to toe with some top-quality wingers and could prove a smart piece of recruitment by Arteta, especially if he has plans on using Tomiyasu in left-back if Tierney’s rotten luck with injuries continues into next season.
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