Arsenal set to make Stephan Lichtsteiner first signing of Unai Emery era as they look to add veteran leadership

James Benge
Set to sign | Lichtsteiner: Getty Images

Stephan Lichtsteiner is set to join Arsenal on a free transfer as the first major signing of the Unai Emery era.

The 34-year-old right back, who has spent the last seven years at Juventus, is soon to be a free agent and able to talk to clubs outside Italy and sign a pre-contract agreement.

Lichtsteiner visited Arsenal's London Colney training ground and although terms have not yet been agreed between the Swiss captain and Arsenal there is optimism that a deal could be announced in the coming days.

Arsenal expect Lichtsteiner, who has won eight league titles over his career, to provide veteran leadership to their defence and envisage him as a squad player rather than a regular starter.

​Lichtsteiner’s presence would help to ease the pressure on Hector Bellerin, Arsenal’s sole senior natural right-back, who played 46 games in all competitions and played more minutes (4,131) than anyone else in the first team.

After Mathieu Debuchy’s move to St Etienne in January Arsenal were without any experienced back-up for Bellerin, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a more natural midfielder, compelled to drop in on the rare occasions Arsene Wenger was able to rest Bellerin.

Bellerin has been targeted by Lichtsteiner’s soon-to-be former side Juventus but the incoming signing would not be viewed as a replacement.

Lichtsteiner confirmed his departure after seven years in Turin earlier this month and has been keen to find a club where his family can feel settled.

“I don’t chase money and I need a place where I’ll have a good quality of life,” he said.

“My wife and children have to be happy and that wouldn’t be the case in China. I don’t need more money.”