Arsenal move to ‘hijack Chelsea’s pursuit of Saints star Virgil van Dijk to reinforce back three’

According to the Mirror, under-fire manager Arsene Wenger has earmarked the Dutch defender to form part of Arsenal’s new back three.

The Frenchman picked three at the back for the first time since 1997 against Middlesbrough on Monday night and is said to be willing to use it again next season following a major summer clear-out.

Van Dijk, 25, has been a standout player for Southampton since joining in 2015 from Celtic.

The Gunners target he has 75% of his headed duels (96/128), made 56 interceptions and won 100% of his take-ons in 21 Premier League appearances this season.

It is believed that Arsenal are behind Chelsea in the race to his signature and have fellow suitors Liverpool, Manchester City and Ronald Koeman, the defender’s former boss, at Everton.

Despite signing German centre-back Shkodran Mustafi in the summer for £35 million, Arsenal are once again considering an approach to sign Roma centre-back Kostas Manolas, a target since 2014, according to the Mirror.

Mustafi has won 74% of his take-ons in the Premier League this season but has only managed a 44% tackle success rate.

Manolas, meanwhile, who has played in front of Arsenal loanee Wojciech Szczesny this season, has won 60/80 headed duels, made 59 interceptions and 92% of his take-ons.

source: squawka

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