Arsene Wenger: No age limit in hunt for new defender

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has paved the way for a move for an experienced defender after insisting he has set no age limit on any new signing.

Wenger has made no secret he wants to add at least one centre-back to his ranks before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month and has been linked with Shkodran Mustafi of Valencia and Southampton skipper Jose Fonte.

The Frenchman was keen to strengthen his defensive ranks even before injuries sidelined both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel — while Laurent Koscielny has been given an extended rest having reached the Euro 2016 final with France.

Inexperienced duo Calum Chambers, 21, and new signing Rob Holding, 20, were partnered at the back for Sunday’s 4-3 defeat to Liverpool.

The pair could also line up against champions Leicester tomorrow with Wenger admitting it would be a “gamble” to play Koscielny at the King Power Stadium.

While a move for Germany international Mustafi has been mooted, Arsenal have also been linked with Fonte.

The 32-year-old won the European Championships with Portugal this summer and has been a reported target for both Arsenal and Manchester United, with Wenger revealing his recruitment hunt will not be restricted by how old a player is.

“We have no limit in age,” he said. “If it is a guy of 32 and we think he has the quality then we will do it.”

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: Who will be Premier League Champions 2016/17?

Asked if he expected to sign a defender before the transfer window closes, Wenger simply replied: “Yes.”

And, although he admits a defender has been a long-term target, the 66-year-old believes top-quality centre-backs are at a premium.

“If Mertesacker and Gabriel had not been injured in pre-season, we would have been less under pressure to sign a defender,” he said.

“But once you are under pressure, everybody knows you are so it makes you weaker. We have been in the market a long time but if you look around in Europe, all my friends I call are all looking for centre-backs but they cannot find them.”

Meanwhile, Danny Drinkwater is close to agreeing a new contract with Leicester as the club continue to tie down their star players.

The England international is in talks with the Foxes to extend his deal and follow a host of key names in pledging their future to the Premier League champions.

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: Which teams are relegation candidates this season?


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