Arsenal once had one of the most formidable defences in English football.

tony admas gordon strachan
From left to right, midfielder Gordon Strachan of Coventry City, and defenders Tony Adams and Steve Bould of Arsenal, during an FA Carling Premiership match at Highfield Road in Coventry, UK, 21st April 1997. The score was 1-1. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

Not only were they good as individuals but the quartet of Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon were also a fantastic unit.

Fast forward 30 years and the current defensive core the Gunners possess are not worthy of cleaning Tony Adams’ boots. With summer approaching, Unai Emery will already be formulating recruitment plans of who, realistically, he can afford.

With this in mind, here are some suggestions for defenders Arsenal could sign placed into the category dream, realistic or wildcard. Read on to find out more:

Dream – Harry Maguire

Current club: Leicester City

Age: 26

The England international was so impressive at the World Cup in Russia. If Emery can somehow find the money, then there is no better defender for the Gunners.

The 26-year-old cost Leicester City £17 million when he arrived from Hull City in 2017 but he would command at least three times that amount in today’s crazy market. He would be worth every penny though.

Good on the ball and excellent in the air, Arsenal could hardly dream for a better centre-back; whether they could persuade the Foxes to part with him is another matter entirely.

Realistic – Michael Keane

Current club: Everton

Age: 26

Another England international Arsenal could sign is Everton defender Michael Keane. His presence at the heart of the Toffee’s defence has been one of the big positives for Marco Silva’s side in 2018/19 but his performances will have alerted a number of bigger clubs.

Everton will, of course, want to keep hold of the defender but this may not be easy. Tottenham are another side who will likely be interested in the former Burnley defender but the Gunners should go all out for the 26-year-old.

This kind of defender could transform Arsenal’s chances and Premier League betting markets would have to adjust their odds in the title race should Emery pull it off.

Realistic – James Tarkowski

Current club: Burnley

Age: 26

Burnley may not have had as good a campaign as they did in 2017/18 when they finished seventh but surviving in the Premier League is still a massive achievement.

With the Clarets seemingly a finishing school for centre-backs, the Gunners should act quickly and sign James Tarkowski before any of their top-six rivals get the chance.

Another player to have earned England caps while under the tutelage of Sean Dyche, Tarkowski would be a commanding presence at the heart of the Arsenal back-line and should be considered a realistic target.

Wildcard – Matthijs de Ligt

Current club: Ajax

Age: 19

The final pick is definitely a wildcard option as the Ajax starlet will almost certainly make a move to one of European football’s ‘elite’ clubs this summer.

His ability, especially for someone so young, is immense and it was no surprise when he won the 2018 Golden Boy Award. He is also the youngest player to start a European final but, in truth, Arsenal could be priced out of the market with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich much more likely destinations.

The-19-year-old certainly has a future outside the Netherlands so, for now, Arsenal fans can still dream.