Mikel Arteta has Joao Cancelo Arsenal alternative with cut-price transfer to solve big problem

Arsenal have conceded 42 goals this season, more than Manchester City, Newcastle and Manchester United. 15 of them have come in the previous seven games.

For large parts of the campaign, the Gunners have been resolute in defence. Mikel Arteta’s first-choice back four has formed a solid partnership, helping them to the top of the Premier League table. But a handful of incidents have undone the hard work.

William Saliba’s season-ending injury in March has been the most instrumental in Arsenal’s downfall in recent months. Yet it has been the ever-lasting problem at left-back that has proved critical in the latter end of the season.

Oleksandr Zinchenko’s summer arrival from Manchester City had been touted as one of the signings of the season. The left-back’s role in Arteta’s style of play has revolutionised the Gunners’ threat, with him tucking into midfield to form a 3-3-4 formation.

However, his defensive part of the game has been found out recently, with some questioning his ability to defend. Against Liverpool, he was easily beaten by Trent Alexander-Arnold in the build-up to Roberto Firmino’s equaliser and his positioning was heavily criticised for Southampton’s third goal in the 3-3 draw last month.

The case can be made that Arsenal need a better defensive-orientated left-back next season if they are to compete domestically and in the Champions League. Man City’s Joao Cancelo has emerged as a possible target after falling out with Pep Guardiola in January.

Recent reports have claimed that the Gunners are keen to strengthen at full-back, but fear City may refuse to do business with the north Londoners after allowing Zinchenko and Jesus to join them.

According to CIES Football Observatory, Cancelo is valued around £69.5m – a quarter of the supposed £200m made available by Stan Kroenke for the summer. With close to £100m expected to be paid for Declan Rice, Arsenal may be forced to source cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

And they may not have to look any further than Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy. The France international has been told he can leave Los Blancos in the summer, with a low price tag of £17.5m being slapped on his head.

Mendy has two years remaining on his contract at the Bernabeu, but he has been made surplus to requirements by Carlo Ancelotti due to Nacho Fernandez’s preference. It’s said that Mendy is keen to play in the Champions League, something Arsenal can offer.

Last season, Mendy was influential in Real Madrid’s Champions League win and would be a smart piece of business for Arteta. FBREF have him ranked 99th percentile for completed passes and 83rd percentile in successful take-ons when compared to positional peers in Europe’s top five leagues.

He also ranks 89th percentile for the percentages of dribblers tackled and 96th percentile for fouls committed. His defensive ability, partnered with his flanking ability down the left, makes him a perfect left-back signing for Arteta.

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