Thomas Vermaelen
Can will replace Vermaelen in north London this summer?

Having already made four signings this summer, Arsene Wenger has bucked a trend that has befallen Arsenal in recent transfer windows.

With a whole month still to go, the club are now adequately stocked in areas that threatened to be troublesome following the departures of Bacary Sagna and Lukasz Fabianski, but there is still more work to be done.

Thomas Vermaelen appears all but certain to become the second Gunners captain to join Manchester United in two years after Wenger admitted the Belgian could leave the club in a recent press conference.

Vermaelen's departure will create an immediate problem for the manager with no natural cover in the first team for the first-choice partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. It's a situation that must be rectified if the Gunners are to maintain a title challenge beyond January this season.

While a holding midfielder - with the arrival of Sami Khedira still a possibility - and a striker will also have to be considered, a new recruit in defence is a must. Here are IBTimes UK's candidates for the job.

Toby Alderweireld - Atletico Madrid

One Belgian for another, perhaps? The 25-year-old was linked with a move to the Premier League before signing for Atletico Madrid last summer but his decision to move to Spain has yet to be justified after struggling to impose himself on Diego Simeone's first team. Like Vermaelen, he is a graduate of the Ajax youth academy and inevitably, is a defender who is adept at bringing the ball out of defence with confidence. While he is a versatile defender – as seen during the World Cup when Marc Wilmots deployed him as a right-back – Alderweireld's physical presence and ability in the air seemingly makes him an ideal option at centre-back.

Fabian Schar- Basel

Having featured in winning sides against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, Schar is already in the good books of Arsenal fans. The 22-year-old has won two Swiss league titles with the club in two years and could be ready for a fresh challenge on a bigger platform. According to the defender's agent, Arsenal enquired about his services ahead of the January transfer window last year and with reinforcements at the back now more urgent than ever, it may be time for the club to step up that interest.

Fabian Schar

Kostas Manolas - Olympiakos

In a team whose presence in international tournaments has been based entirely on defensive solidarity, it is no wonder one of Greece's stand out performers during their World Cup campaign was a centre-half. Borussia Dortmund's Sokratis Papastathopoulos is likely to remain an unattainable figure in the transfer market – particularly should interest remain in Mats Hummels – but his partner Manolas could represent an ideal option for the Gunners. The 23-year-old Olympiakos star was outstanding in Brazil, winning duels with Didier Drogba and Joel Campbell on his travels, with his strength and speed ensuring he was rarely off the pace. Adapting to life in the Premier League would require some patience, however.

Eder Alvarez Balanta - River Plate

While he did not get the opportunities to show it during Colombia's World Cup campaign, having played just 90 minutes for Jose Pekerman's side, Eder Balanta's growing profile in South America suggests he will be the next prodigious starlet to make the switch to Europe. His vast skill set suggests as much.

The 20-year-old possesses maturity and a commanding presence beyond his years and his days of playing further up the pitch as a midfielder at youth level ensure he is adept at playing the ball out of danger, a trait typical of an Arsene Wenger defensive recruit.

Balanta is already widely regarded as one of the best defenders playing in the Argentine top flight, so it is little wonder clubs from Europe are beginning to circle. He has previously been tipped to join Barcelona as Carlos Puyol's long-term replacement, but recent reports suggest Valencia are poised to secure his signature as they bid to replace Jeremy Mathieu, who was himself selected to help fill the void in defence at the Camp Nou. While it may be a rather easy assumption to make, Balanta would perfectly fit the profile of what Wenger traditionally looks for.


Marcos Rojo - Sporting Lisbon

The 24-year-old was another to see his reputation enhance in Brazil but if he has been considered at all by the Gunners, the club may have to move quickly. Southampton remain heavily linked with a move for the Sporting defender and with cash to burn, should be able to tie up a deal swiftly if an agreement with the player is met. Capable of playing at both centre-back and left-back, Rojo represents a versatile and affordable option for the Gunners.