Squillaci is not the defensive answer for Arsenal
Sevilla have confirmed that Arsenal have today made an offer for Sebastien Squillaci. The Frenchman, who was with Monaco for several years Lyon for a couple and then Sevilla for the last two, is a central defender more renowned for his ability with the ball than his tenacity without it. That’s not to say he is unable to tackle, he is, but he is not quite as good as his resume suggests and is, in my eyes, just a cheap alternative to make up the numbers.
Squillaci was rarely an established part of the starting eleven at Monaco in the early part of the last decade. Gael Givet and Julien Rodriguez were usually ahead of him as the first choice centre backs. Squillaci was part of the squad that reached the Champions League final in 2004 under Didier Deschamps but he was only on the substitutes bench, making an appearance for the final twenty minutes.
In 2006 he signed for Lyon and formed a decent partnership with Cris in the centre of defence which helped Lyon win two more league titles. Squillaci was never particularly liked by the Lyon faithful though, he had a tendency to not perform at his best in the crucial Champions League ties which at the time were the matches which the Lyon fans used to live for (when you win the domestic league so easily for several years, as Lyon did, the focus of the fans tends to stray to European competition) and so in 2008 Lyon transferred Squillaci to Sevilla.
The original plan at Sevilla was for Squillaci and Abdoulay Konko, purchased for nearly â‚¬10 million from Genoa, to form a new central defensive partnership. Early on, neither impressed much and soon Sevilla were using Julien Escude, one of the players who the two new signings were supposed to replace, and young Argentinian giant Federico Fazio to play at centre back. Slowly Squillaci forced his way back into the starting team and over the past year his form has improved, helped by playing alongside fellow Frenchman Julien Escude. Squillaci was part of the team that won the 2010 Copa del Ray against Atletico Madrid 2-0.
Now it appears Squillaci will be joining us. He is thirty years old, has played for France twenty times and will probably be the third choice centre back, moving ahead of Johan Djorou but behind Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen.
On the surface, I don’t think it is a good move. I don’t believe he is good enough to permanently displace an in form Koscielny or Vermaelen, which means he won’t offer any genuine competitive threat to their position, yet he has enough of a pedigree to suggest he won’t be satisfied with the occasional appearance either. Most Arsenal fans, I believe, would agree that it would be better if Wenger would just sign an established international centre back, perhaps Per Mertesacker, who could compete for a first choice spot even if it does mean it costs more money. Monaco and Lyon were happy to sell Squillaci on and Sevilla now too are hardly reluctant to see him move.
Should we be satisfied with a mediocre signing?
The last alternative/replacement centre back we signed was also an elder French international unwanted by his previous club. Mikael Silvestre anybody?
Andreas writes for Ireland’s Arsenal website Arsenal.ie