Who is Waldemar Anton? The imperious defender catching the eye of Arsenal, Aston Villa and West Ham

James Pennington
Stuttgart captain Waldemar Anton

Waldemar Anton is a 27-year-old centre-back currently contracted to Bundesliga side Stuttgart, with his defensive performances helping lift Die Roten as high as third in the table at this stage of the season.

TEAMtalk transfer insider Dean Jones reported on Wednesday that Arsenal have joined Aston Villa and West Ham in the race for the German, who has been an ever-present since joining Stuttgart back in July 2020.

After narrowly avoiding relegation to the Bundesliga 2 last season, defeating Hamburg 6-1 on aggregate in the relegation play-offs, Stuttgart have been immense approaching the halfway stage in the campaign, sitting third in the table, five points behind leaders Leverkusen.

Serhou Guirassy and Deniz Undav have been clinical going forward, being directly involved in 21 of Stuttgart’s last 22 goals in the Bundesliga and knocking Dortmund out of the DFB Pokal on Wednesday where Anton played the full 90 minutes.

Primarily partnering former Dortmund man Dan-Axel Zagadou as the centre-backs in a back four, Anton has played every minute of Bundesliga and DFB Pokal action this season and appeared in every single Bundesliga match for Stuttgart last season. He is also the club captain.

Anton’s career so far

Born in Olmaliq, Uzbekistan, Anton is of German and Russian descent through his parents.

At the age of 11, Anton joined Hannover 96, where he would progress through the ranks before making his debut for the first team in the Bundesliga in the 2015/16 season.

Anton would go on to make 130 appearances for Hannover after cementing himself as a regular in the 2016/17 season.

In July 2020 he would make the move south to Stuttgart for a fee of around €4.00m (£3.4m), where he has been a mainstay in Die Roten’s backline, making 97 league appearances to date and is expected to make it a century by the end of the year.

He has been capped by Germany’s U21s on 11 occasions but has failed to represent the four-time World Cup winners at senior level. He is also eligible to represent the country of his birth, Uzbekistan, but has not received a call-up to the Asian nation.

What is Anton like as a player?

Standing at 1.82m (5ft 11in), Anton can play at both centre-back and right-back but has primarily played as a centre-half this season next to the 1.96m (6ft 6in) Zagadou, who complement each other well.

Anton is not your modern-day centre-back who will look to lure in the opposition and take many risks on the ball, instead opting for a more no-nonsense approach and getting rid of the ball from danger.

That being said, his athletic ability is outstanding, which allows him to play as a right-back where he can go toe-to-toe with a diminutive tricky winger. His athletic ability also enables him to push out of the defence with the ball on occasion, making the opposition press and either foul him or make room where he can play a pass to a teammate in a more free position.

He is good on the ball, which helps him when driving out of the defence and maintaining close control to not cheaply give away possession.

At 27 years old, it is unlikely that Anton will drastically improve beyond his current level, especially considering his athleticism is what makes him stand out.

Though, the German’s injury record is impressive, as he played in every Bundesliga match last campaign and has played every minute for Stuttgart so far this season, with his reliability making him an attractive prospect for teams who are enduring increasingly congested fixture lists.

Where will Anton go?

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have joined West Ham and Aston Villa in the race for Anton, as the Gunners have been left frustrated by numerous injuries to Takehiro Tomiyasu this campaign.

It is likely that any move that last years’ Premier League runners-up make for Anton will depend on the future of Tomiyasu, with both stars able to play in the same positions and Ben White locking down the right-back spot.

Anton is not the only defender West Ham are interested in, as TEAMtalk recently revealed they are monitoring the performances of Lille’s Leny Yoro. Konstantinos Mavropanos has struggled to break into the first team, with Nayef Aguerd and Kurt Zouma staking their claim as the first-choice pairing.

Anton would add more depth to the Hammers’ backline as they challenge for the Europa League and the European places in the Premier League. A transfer would also allow Vladimir Coudal to be rotated more regularly and enable Ben Johnson to make a loan or a permanent switch in search for more game time.

Aston Villa have defied expectations this season under Unai Emery, sitting third in the Premier League currently, leapfrogging treble winners Man City on Wednesday after a home 1-0 victory.

Diego Carlos has returned from injury which has pushed Ezri Konsa out to right-back and Matty Cash out of the starting eleven. Clement Lenglet has appeared sporadically amid his loan from Barcelona, so a permanent move for Anton would allow Lenglet to return from his loan early.

Leander Dendoncker has struggled for game time too and Tyrone Mings is still a long way from returning after suffering a horrific knee injury, which could make room for the Stuttgart star in Villa’s team.