Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed the club are searching for a new defender to ease their injury crisis with the north London club braced to start the campaign without their three senior centre-backs. Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel will all miss the Premier League opener against Liverpool with fitness concerns, giving Wenger an early season selection headache.
Mertesacker is unlikely to play again in 2016 after suffering a knee injury during pre-season, while Gabriel suffered a foot problem during the win over Manchester City - ruling him out for six weeks. Laurent Koscielny meanwhile only returned to training at the start of the week following the European Championships and is not expected to be risked.
Wenger may be forced to partner Calum Chambers and new signing Rob Holding in defence upon the visit of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool on Sunday [14 August] such are his wafer thin options at the back. The Arsenal boss has belatedly admitted the club are pursuing defensive back-up but has reiterated he will not be forced into making a new signing.
"I am enough under pressure, you don't need to give me more," he said, according to The Evening Standard. "I take a distance from all that. I just try to analyse in a rational way, what is the best decision for the team and the club. I know it's more glamorous to buy a £50-60m player than to give a chance to a young player, but in my job you have to just look at the quality and not so much the numbers surrounding a transfer.
"Are we looking for defenders? Yes of course," the Arsenal boss added. "We are looking to add because we have had a couple of unexpected injuries in Mertesacker and Gabriel. It is very frustrating. But sometimes you find a solution that you wouldn't have done if you had no injuries. We are short on the experience front and at centre back, having experience forms an important part.
"Laurent Koscielny came back very late from the Euros so we are in a difficult position for Sunday's game against Liverpool. I won't give any names of who we are looking to buy, but we are working on it. Until Sunday I have to work on a solution internally and an efficient solution as well."
But if Arsenal fans are expecting a big money signing they could be disappointed, following comments made by Wenger in Alan Curbishley's new book Game Changers in which he suggests he spends club's money like it is his own. The French boss has been regularly criticised for his frugal approach in the transfer market, and that scrutiny is unlikely to relent until the window closes on 31 August.