Arsenal reignite their interest in Norway defender
Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland is back on Arsene Wenger’s radar
ARSENE Wenger is to renew his interest in Fulham’s Brede Hangeland after confirming he will buy a defender in this month’s transfer window.
Wenger had hinted over Christmas that he would dip into the transfer market if Thomas Vermaelen’s troublesome Achilles injury did not clear up, and now the Arsenal manager has been dealt a further injury blow.
Wenger confirmed that Belgian defender Vermaelen, who has not played for the Gunners since August, has suffered a further setback in his recovery that could rule him out for at least another month.
And it now transpires that French centre-back Sebastien Squillaci picked up a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Leeds at the weekend, and will be out for at least a fortnight.
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“He [Vermaelen] had another setback on Saturday that we are concerned with,” admitted Wenger this week. “We are consulting top specialists around the world. We’ll know more later [this week].
“Unfortunately I can’t give you any precise date but I concede that, with this little setback from Thomas, we are in a situation where we will have to look around.
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“Squillaci will be out for a maximum of three weeks, minimum two. It is a hamstring injury but it is not too bad – a grade one. He’ll be back in two weeks if all goes well.”
As a result, the Gunners boss is on the lookout for an experienced defender, and will again try to tempt Norway captain Hangeland away from Craven Cottage.
The Arsenal manager first made enquiries about the 29-year-old in 2009, before he went on to sign Vermaelen from Ajax.
The 6ft 5ins centre-back was a lynchpin of the side that reached last season’s Europa League final under former boss Roy Hodgson, who Hangeland knew from his time in Norway.
But Hodgson’s successor Mark Hughes has not had similar success at the club, and Hangeland, who is under contract until 2013, could be tempted away for around �8m.
However, Hughes has already played hardball with Arsenal over keeper Mark Schwarzer in the summer, and is desperate to keep his defensive rock for the Cottagers’ battle against relegation.
Another player Wenger has spoken of highly is the Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill.
But the Trotters have slapped a �20m price tag on the player and, even though Wenger has up to �50m spare cash in a transfer kitty according to the board, he is unlikely to break the club’s transfer record by paying over the odds.
This time last season Wenger was in a similar situation and decided to re-sign his former player Sol Campbell, but reports linking 36-year-old Campbell with a third move to Arsenal look wide of the mark.
Campbell, pictured, moved to Newcastle as a free agent in the summer to link up with his former coach at Tottenham, Chris Hughton.
Hughton’s sacking and replacement by Alan Pardew before Christmas has left Campbell out in the cold, but Wenger is not likely to be interested this time around.