Athletic Bilbao are plotting a move for Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal if their star centre-back Aymeric Laporte departs for Manchester City this month. According to recent reports in the English media, the Gunners full-back has gathered interest from the La Liga club over a possible transfer back to Spain. It is believed that Bilbao sees the Gunners left-back as an ideal replacement for Aymeric Laporte who is set to leave the club to complete a move to Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Laporte is close to joining the Citizens after Pep Guardiola’s side triggered his release clause of  £57m in his contract. Some sources in the Spanish press are now claiming that Athletic Bilbao could look at Monreal to fill Laporte’s boots in their backline. The Spaniard returned from injury and was back in regular first-team action in Arsenal’s 4-1 home victory over Crystal Palace during the last Premier League game week. The 31-year-old scored his team’s opening goal in that game and has been in sensational form for the north London outfit this season.

Monreal has made 23 appearances for Arsenal in this campaign, scoring three goals and providing two assists in all competitions. He has shown his versatility by adopting a more central defensive role under manager Arsene Wenger in recent months. Let’s take a look at three options for the Gunners to consider if the Spaniard ends up leaving the club this month.

Domenico Criscito

The 31-year-old Zenit Saint-Peterburg defender has been in fine form for the Russian side this term. He has featured in 28 matches, scoring 4 goals and providing 4 assists in all competitions. The Italian left-back will be a perfect replacement for the Spaniard as he has the ability to play as a centre-back as well. A potential move for Criscito in the near future will undoubtedly bolster Wenger’s defensive options at the club which could help them in their quest to secure Champions League football for next season.

Aleksandar Kolarov

The 32-year-old former Manchester City defender is currently plying his trade in Italian football and has put in some solid performances for AS Roma in this campaign. The Serbian has featured in 26 matches for the club, scoring 3 goals and making 8 assists across all competitions. He could potentially prove to be equal if not a better replacement for Monreal at Arsenal, especially considering how well he knows the Premier League from his time with the Citizens.

Christian Fuchs

The Leicester City left-back is a proven talent in the Premier League and could adapt well in north London. The Austrian international has played in 20 matches for the Foxes this season but is yet to find the back of the net. He is defensively solid but not as good as the other options on this list going forward. Fuchs might prove to be a low-risk short-term investment that can help address Arsenal’s problems at the back if Monreal ends up leaving the club this month.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.