Arsenal turning to Mario Yepes in centre back search?
Arsenal, 11/1 chances with Coral for the Premier League title, could hand Colombian veteran and free agent Mario Yepes a short-term contract, after being frustrated in their search for a central defender during the summer transfer window.
Former Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen was sold to Barcelona for £15m in August, and reported replacement target Kostas Manolas ended up at Roma following Mehdi Benatia’s big money move to Bayern Munich.
Yepes, 38, captained his country at the recent World Cup in Brazil, as Colombia went further than they ever have at the finals by reaching the last eight. He counts PSG and AC Milan among his former clubs, and has won the French cup and Italy’s Serie A, as well as the 2001 Copa America at international level.
Reports in Colombia claim that Arsene Wenger is considering Yepes as a stop-gap solution to the lack of depth in central defence at the Emirates. Arsenal signed Southampton teenage talent Calum Chambers, but the vast majority of his fledgling club career has seen him play right back.
Despite that, Chambers has impressed when used at centre half by Wenger, but has also made mistakes, notably tackling forwards high up the pitch. There is no senior backup on the Gunners’ books to first-choice pairing Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
What Yepes, who turns 39 in January, could offer Arsenal is a player with vast experience. He has played over 600 club games, and in continental competition before. Released by Serie A side Atalanta this summer, he racked up a 102 caps for Colombia during a 15-year international career.
FA Cup holders Arsenal, who are 15/2 to retain that trophy, will be looking for free agents like Yepes, and old player William Gallas, just so there are defensive bodies to cover injuries. Drawn in Champions League Group D with Anderlecht, Borussia Dortmund and Galatasaray, the Gunners are 20/1 chances to go all the way and win Europe’s elite competition.