Arsenal signs Monreal to boost defense

Arsenal has bolstered its flaky defense with the signing of Spain left back Nacho Monreal from Malaga in the final moments of the January transfer window.

The 26-year-old Monreal signed a ”long-term contract” on Thursday and is reported to have cost Arsenal 8.3 million pounds ($13.6 million).

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Monreal, who has played nine times for Spain and will provide competition for fellow left back Kieran Gibbs, ”is a technically gifted player, a good crosser in the final third and strong in the air.”

The London club has plagued by defensive lapses this season as it struggles to qualify for the Champions League for the 16th straight year. With 14 matches left, Arsenal is sixth – four points off fourth-place Tottenham.