Whilst Wenger is rightly pursuing additional centre-backs, there is one player on our books who is could do a job for us either this season failing that definitely next season (2012/13), that player is Kyle Bartley.
Bartley is a tall, strong, ball-playing, commanding centre half. He is 20 years old and 6ft 3” and English. Bartley joined Arsenal from Bolton in 2007.
He spent his apprenticeship in the reserves and youth team, but like many of Arsenal’s youngsters he was given an early debut in December 2009 against Olympiakos in the Champions League..
Soon after his debut, Bartley went on loan to Sheffield United and played 14 games. At the start of the 2010-11 season Bartley once again joined Sheffield United , playing a further 21 games.
In January 2011 Kyle joined Rangers, a move that surprised many, a move that many thought will see Bartley spend the season on the bench. This was not the case, Bartley was involved in Rangers drive for the title and in the European adventure, playing predominantly as a holding midfield player
So impressed were Rangers for Bartley that they have asked for Arsenal to let him go back for another season. Wenger has not yet responded.
Will Wenger take Bartley on the Far East tour and play him in midfield or central defence? If Arsenal buy Samba and, or Cahill Bartley’s opportunity to play in defence will be limited this season, but Wenger might have liked what he saw of Bartley in midfield and try him out in that position.
Whatever happens in the transfer market and in pre-season, Arsenal must keep Bartley at any costs. He will develop next season into a top defender or defensive midfielder, he then needs to be given the opportunity to play, just as we have given Djourou, Denilson and Diaby so too must Bartley be given first team opportunities. There would be nothing more tragic than to see an archetypal English centre forward leave the club when that is what we have all been crying out for.