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Benedikt Howedes could be the missing piece of Arsenal’s jigsaw

Following Arsenal’s comprehensive 3-0 thumping of Manchester City in the Community Shield, manager Arsene Wenger has declared that the dates between the middle and the end of August will be productive for the club in the transfer window. At an industry best 13/2 with Coral to win the Premier League this season, they are many people’s outsiders.

Having sold Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona for £15m, the Gunners are missing a centre back, and fresh reports link them with Germany’s World Cup-winning defender Benedikt Howedes, who captains Schalke. Advantageously for the north London club, is that the 26-year-old can be utilised at centre half, full back or in defensive midfield.

In recent times, Wenger has appeared to switch his transfer policy to accommodate more versatility in his squad, zeroing in on players who can ply their trade in a number of roles, and change effortlessly in a match. Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla can play anywhere behind the striker, as wingers or in deeper-lying midfield roles at a push. Alexis Sanchez has the ability to operate up front, wide, behind one centre forward or in a ‘false nine’. Calum Chambers, who followed Sanchez through the door to join from Southampton in the summer, has spent most of his young career at right back. However, is equally adept in the heart of defence, and Wenger has identified that the 19-year-old could also play in the holding role.

Although the name William Carvalho keeps being regurgitated in the national media, he isn’t quite as versatile and, with a buyout clause rumoured to be £37.5m, may not represent value for money, not to mention sound economic judgement.

If Wenger is indeed following this route to rebuild a consistent trophy-winning squad, it would be appropriate to suggest all future targets are ones who can take up a number of positions. Howedes could be the perfect option for Wenger, and a long term successor for Per Mertesacker, having commanded his club side and played a major part in helping Germany win the World Cup. Any fee is being reported to be around the £20m mark, and could even be fractionally less. The Schalke star also has Champions League experience, which will be vital to the Gunners, as they battle to make their mark in Europe this term. They are 20/1 to win the continent’s elite competition.