Who is Arsenal’s secret ace in the hole in pursuit of Castagne?


While we’ve been distracted by all the big noises and shiny things, it seems that we’re close to signing Belgian defender Timothy Castagne away from the sinking ship that is Leicester. The 27 year old would offer solid cover at both RB and LB as well as CB, and, even he’s not quite as exciting as Rice or Caicedo, the rotation he’d offer to Zinchenko and White could be invaluable. With Leicester’s relegation, other clubs are swooping in to scavenge what they can. We may just have a secret agent who can convince Castagne to make the right choice.

“Airpod” Albert Stuivenberg, who was instrumental in convincing Leandro Trossard to join back in January, might have similar influence on Castagne; the three would know each other from Stuivenberg’s year-long stint with Belgian side KRC Genk, which lasted from January 2017 until December 2017. During that time, Stuivenberg guided Genk to two mid-table finishes (they finished 8th in that 2016-17 season, made it to the Europa League quarterfinal before bowing out to Celta Vigo, and sat ninth when he was sacked midway through the 2017-18 season). That might have been just a year’s worth of managing, but that’s enough to get to know players. If Stuivenberg thinks Castagne is worth pursuing, he’s got my support.

We’re going to need cover for Zinchenko and White, and, until we’re willing to commit as many financial violations as other clubs, we’re going to have to look for players like Castagne, whose fee and wages would be manageable. He’s on about £65k per week and could probably be signed for a modest fee, something like £20k (I’m old enough to remember when that was a record-breaking fee for most clubs).

He’s a solid defender who made 37 appearances for Leicester this past season and led the squad in tackles and was the Foxes’ third highest rated player among those who made more than 15 appearances (according to whoscored), behind only Maddison and Tielemans. That still may not be enough to boil your potatoes, but it should be good enough to represent an upgrade on Cedric. With Tomiyasu’s injuries a concern and Tierney’s departure probable, we could do with a versatile, Prem-tested player. After all that time he spent trying desperately to defend for a hapless Leicester side, he might leap at the opportunity to play for Arsenal, who conceded just 43 goals (a stat inflated during the Saliba-less run-in…).

As I mentioned before, I trust Stuivenberg on this. Trossard was a revelation when he joined in January. I’m not suggesting that Castagne would set the world alight should he join us; I’m only saying that Stuivenberg’s 100% recommendation record speaks for itself, what with the overwhelming sample size and all.

More seriously, such a signing would go quite a ways toward addressing one of our key weaknesses: depth. If we had had someone like Castagne during this past season, he could have played CB, allowing White to continue at RB, delivering all of that wonderful support and service to Saka. While this kind of a player isn’t a game-changer on his own, he seems reliable and consistent enough to allow game-changing players more chances to do just that. Consider him a compromise between the 18 year old Ivan Fresneda and the £200k/week João Cancelo.

With that in mind, then, let’s hope we see Castagne in Arsenal kit sooner rather than later.

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2 thoughts on “Who is Arsenal’s secret ace in the hole in pursuit of Castagne?

  1. jw1

    Consider Castagne as a Tierney-lite type.
    Where, had he been at Arsenal this April– we might have moved ben White inside and played him at RB. Where Tierney is comfy at CB in a 3-back– I don’t get that same vibe off Castagne. For all of Leicester’s fallibility defending centrally– I’m not sure he ever played there– and CB was a revolving door there the last 18mos.

    Still, Castagne fits the profile for expanding our squad– and decent pace too.
    If Albert likes him, I’d say ‘make an offer’.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Agreed—I had wondered about Tierney as a CB but it feels like his future lies elsewhere. Castagne apparently fits Arteta’s vision for an inverted fullback who can get up the pitch similar to how Zinchenko does (rather than the wide, overlapping role Tierney plays). It may be asking too much to hope he’ll offer cover at CB, but he does remember equally adept at LB and RB.


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