When Arsenal signed Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna there was little hype around the player, and considering how little was known about the Japanese international this was hardly surprising. However, he quickly became a fan favourite thanks to his hard work and consistency.
This summer, Arsenal are again in the market for a versatile defender who can play both at centre-half and full-back. The club have had a €30million (£25.8million) bid rejected for Lisandro Martinez according to The Athletic, but they are expected to return with Mikel Arteta making the Argentine a priority this summer.
Tomiyasu has told Arteta with plenty of his performances this season why the Ajax star would be perfect for the club. Arsenal lost out in the race for the top four and Tomiyasu’s absence for much of the season was a direct contributing factor.
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Had the then-22-year-old been fit for more of the campaign, perhaps the outcome would have been different. In his stead, Cedric Soares played and while Kieran Tierney was available, the Portuguese managed to stem much of the loss of Tomiyasu, with Mikel Arteta’s tactical shift of Tierney to become the more disciplined of the pair helping to solve the problem.
However, when he too fell to injury ahead of the run-in, Nuno Tavares and Cedric were both far too offensive-minded and the defence lost balance. Without the presence of Thomas Partey in the midfield, a run of poor results was near-inevitable.
With a player like Lisandro Martinez in the squad, Arsenal could maintain the balance of the defence in the absence of Tierney. Gabriel Magalhaes would also be under more intense pressure to perform with the potential summer signing playing the majority of his games at the left centre-half.
Both Tomiyasu and Tierney have had their fitness concerns. Having a player like Martinez would allow Arteta to maintain his balance in defence.
Even with both fit, the four competitions that Arsenal will play in next season means there is plenty of need to rotate and manage the squad. Mikel Arteta is determined not to have ‘back-ups’ but specifically competitors in each role.
Tavares proved too much of a drop from Tierney whereas Tomiyasu improved on both Hector Bellerin and Cedric. Pablo Mari too departed on loan and is expected to depart permanently.
Martinez can help to compete with Gabriel and Tierney, with even possibilities in midfield, not a stretch having performed well in the middle on the European and international stage for club and country.
It may not have been an area that many expected the Gunners to invest in this summer. However, Arteta has shown before his willingness to spend if he feels strengthening is necessary and a move for Martinez could be quite the coup.
Source by Football London