Arsenal go for Greek defender Kostas Manolas to fill Vermaelen void
Arsenal, a guaranteed industry-leading price of 13/2 with Coral to win the Premier League title, have made Greece international and Olympiakos defender Kostas Manolas a top target following Thomas Vermaelen’s exit from the Emirates, according to tabloid reports.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger sold his former captain to Barcelona for a reported £15m, leaving him with just two senior centre halves on the books. Summer signing Calum Chambers, a right back by trade, played in the heart of defence in the 3-0 Community Shield victory over Manchester City, but a natural option is understood to be preferable.
Should either Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny get injured, then cover at Arsenal in this area is very short. Spaniard Ignasi Miquel has had some first-team exposure, but remains eligible for the Gunners Under-21 set-up.
Manolas, 23, has won back-to-back Greek Super League titles during his two seasons with the Piraeus club. He played in the Champions League last 16 tie against Manchester United last term, before going to the World Cup with his country.
Previously linked with London rivals Tottenham, Sunderland and Fulham, Manolas is also being chased by Serie A trio Juventus, Napoli and Roma, so the Gunners will face strong competition if they are to secure his signature.
Capped 13 times for his country, Manolas was a regular at the recent World Cup in Brazil, where Greece were knocked out on penalties in the last 16 by surprise package Costa Rica. He also reportedly came close to signing for Everton in January 2012 when at AEK Athens, but turned down a switch to Goodison Park.
Arsenal’s Premier League campaign gets underway with a home game against cross-capital rivals Crystal Palace. The Gunners are odds-on at 2/7 to win that fixture. Following that is the first leg of their Champions League play-off tie with Turkish team Besitkas, and Wenger’s side are a shorter 1/4 to qualify for the group stage.