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Emery’s ‘weak link’ in Arsenal’s past 5 Swiss stars as £20m target offered

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Arsenal have been offered a chance to sign Manuel Akanji after the club expressed an interest in the Borussia Dortmund defender, who would become the sixth Swiss star to play for the Gunners so far.

Akanji is facing an uncertain future at the Westfalenstadion this summer after the Bundesliga giants signed Niklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck. The pair are likely to form BVB’s new backline next season under Edin Terzic, having opted to replace Marco Rose as their head coach after just one campaign.

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Rose consistently entrusted Akanji with an important presence in his defensive plans after moving to Borussia Dortmund from Borussia Monchengladbach. The German fielded the 26-year-old in all 26 of the Bundesliga matches he was available for, while starting 25, having missed eight through injuries.

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Agent offers Manuel Akanji to Arsenal as Swiss star seeks summer Borussia Dortmund exit

Arsenal and Manchester United have shown an interest in Akanji’s uncertain situation as the Premier League giants eye defensive reinforcements. Sport Bild cited the Gunners and Red Devils as potential landing spots for the 39-cap defender in May with continuing at BVB considered ‘almost impossible’.

Juventus were also in the running for the Swiss star’s services, but The Sun now report Akanji’s agent has offered him to Arsenal. Borussia Dortmund have told the enforcer he can leave after signing Sule and Schlotterbeck. His representative also highlighted Akanji impressed against England this March.

Westfalenstadion chiefs have placed a £21m valuation on Akanji, despite their £20m arrival from FC Basel in 2018 entering the last year of his contract. Yet the Wiesendangen native’s agent expects the Bundesliga giants will soon lower their asking price in the coming weeks to accelerate any departure.

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Arsenal may increase the club’s interest in signing Akanji should Borussia Dortmund slash enough off their valuation. Despite being offered the centre-half, whom BVB’s retiring sporting director Michael Zorc hails as a ‘complete defender’, Mikel Arteta is looking elsewhere to target a left-footed option.

Arteta believes Arsenal are well-stocked for right-footers, so is currently unlikely to take up any offer to sign Akanji from Borussia Dortmund. But should the Spaniard seek any swoop at a later point, the 6 ft 2 talent could become the sixth Swiss star to play for the Gunners in the Premier League so far…

Stephan Lichtsteiner last Swiss to sign for Arsenal as Manuel Akanji now offered

Stephen Lichtsteiner was the last Swiss star to sign for Arsenal that Akanji could now follow after the Borussia Dortmund defender’s agent offered him to Arteta. Unai Emery signed the full-back in 2018 after he left Juventus as a free agent following seven Serie A championships and 258 appearances.

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But the 108-cap international’s time in north London was far from as successful as his spell in Turin. Lichtsteiner would last just one season at the Emirates Stadium before being released and sealing a free transfer to Augsburg. He also only featured 23 times and started 19 games in all competitions.

Former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley also slammed a 35-year-old Lichtsteiner after Manchester City tore him apart in February 2019. The player-turned-pundit stated, via quotes by the Express: “Lichtsteiner got caught out every time, but that’s no surprise. He’s the weak link in that defence.”

Emirates Stadium move could unite Manuel Akanji with compatriot Granit Xhaka

A potential move to the Emirates Stadium could unite Akanji with his Switzerland teammate Granit Xhaka this summer. The centre-half has earned 33 of his 39 caps whilst Xhaka has also been on the field. Akanji has only featured alongside Ricardo Rodriguez (37) and Yann Sommer (36) more often.

Arsene Wenger signed Xhaka for Arsenal back in May 2016 after paying Borussia Monchengladbach £35m. The midfielder has since gone on to amass 250 appearances with the club in all competitions, while scoring 14 and creating 22 goals. He also secured FA Cup winners’ medals in 2017 and 2020.

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Martin Angha failed to make the grade in north London after youth arrival

Arsenal raided FC Zurich’s academy in 2010 to sign Martin Angha for the club’s U18 side. The centre-half would go on to make his senior bow with the Gunners in 2012, but ultimately failed to make the grade at a first-team level in north London and joined Nuremberg when his contract expired in 2013.

Wenger afforded the versatile talent – who showed he could operate in any defensive position – just two senior appearances in 2012/13. Angha debuted at left-back in an EFL Cup tie with Coventry City and enjoyed a brief cameo during a 2-1 Champions League group stage defeat away to Olympiakos.

The 28-year-old would spend just one season with Nuremberg before joining 1860 Munich for only a year. He found a longer-term home with St Gallen back in Switzerland between 2015 to 2017, before a two year spell with FC Sion up until joining current club Fortuna Sittard in the Netherlands in 2019.

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Johan Djourou enjoyed second-longest Arsenal career by a Swiss star in Premier League-era

Johan Djourou enjoyed the second-longest Arsenal career by a Swiss star in the Premier League-era behind Xhaka on games played, offering Akanji a positive example of what is achievable for a central defender in north London after his agent offered the Borussia Dortmund ace to Arteta this summer.

The Gunners signed Djourou from Swiss outfit Etoile Carouge for the club’s U18s in 2003. His senior debut followed in 2004 during an EFL Cup tie at Manchester City. But the Ivory Coast-born gem had to wait until 2006 for his Premier League bow, before later joining Birmingham City on loan in 2007.

Djourou would return to north London to hold a consistent squad role under Wenger until January 2013 to reach 144 appearances. He secured a loan move to Hannover in the winter market, before sealing a temporary spell with Hamburger in July that the German outfit made permanent in 2014.

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Philippe Senderos became first Swiss star to play for Arsenal in Premier League-era in 2003

Phillipe Senderos became the first Swiss star to play for Arsenal in the Premier League-era when he arrived at Highbury in 2003. Wenger bought the centre-half from Swiss side Servette FC before later debuting the defender with a starting role in the EFL Cup third-round at Manchester City in 2004.

Senderos would go on to make 117 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, with more games than for any other club in his career. He also helped Wenger’s men lift the FA Cup in 2004/05 after starting six of the seven ties, including all 120 minutes of the final against Manchester United.

Wenger later sent Senderos out on loan to AC Milan in 2008/09 and Everton in 2010 before Fulham signed him. His career would go on to include Valencia, Aston Villa, Grasshoppers, Rangers, Houston Dynamo and FC Chiasso before retiring at the end of the 2019 as a 57-cap Switzerland international.

Akanji would no doubt want to follow Senderos in lifting silverware at Arsenal and enjoying a lengthy career like his compatriot, should Arteta accept his agent’s offer to sign the Borussia Dortmund star.

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