Even though we are still in June, there are many Arsenal fans that seem to be frustrated that we are yet to sign a player. But I get the feeling that some fans would be happy with any ‘marquee’ signing; they’d be pleased with any ‘big name’.
This article is going to look at the players we have at the moment and try to work out what we need over the summer.
I think we can all agree that the three keepers we have are fairly good shot-stoppers. However they do differ in their distribution, confidence, catching etc. I wouldn’t be surprised nor upset to see Arsenal buy another goalie this summer. The rumours have varied from players that I’d actually prefer over Szczesny (Mignolet, Adler) to those that would be useful squad players to give our no.1 some competition and guidance (Cesar, Reina). I reckon Wenger still sees Szczesny as his long term no.1, but a squad always needs multiple keepers.
Conclusion: A keeper is probably fairly high on Wenger’s priority list for the summer.
For the first time in a while, we are fairly comfortable in this area. Mertesacker and Koscielny look good together and could become the backbone of a successful side. Vermaelen is still a good player, and an excellent third choice. However, Squillaci is leaving and Wenger has shown little faith in Miquel. Unless Djourou returns, we will need to purchase a centre back or promote from the reserves.
Conclusion: I don’t think purchasing another centre back is essential, unless we lose Djourou and/or Vermaelen.
Once again, this area of the Arsenal squad is pretty strong. We have two decent full backs on the right and the left. I’d like to think Sagna will stay, allowing Jenkinson another year to develop. At left back we have two very strong players who are comfortable in attack and defence. Gibbs can give our team the necessary width if Wenger chooses to play Cazorla on the left wing, who will inevitably drift inside.
Conclusion: No need to tinker with our full backs.
Arsenal has had an abundance of centre mids for many years. This summer may see us lose Coquelin, who has had limited game time recently and is no longer a ‘youngster’ – he’s 22 now. Even then, we have Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Rosicky, Arteta – five excellent midfielders despite using a three-man midfield. I didn’t include Diaby because we obviously can’t count on his fitness, but he is a superb player when he’s available. We also have Oxlade-Chamberlain who has been used in the centre, but I reckon he’ll continue to be a winger for a bit longer. Wenger will be aware that Rosicky and Arteta are getting on a bit, which may explain why we’ve been linked with Lyon’s Grenier. Furthermore, Arsenal could do with a little more creativity in midfield. Despite having Wilshere, Rosicky and Cazorla, Arsenal weren’t quite as creative last campaign as we have been in the past. But purchasing an attacking midfielder with the quality we need may be expensive.
Conclusion: Wenger might try to kill two birds with one stone – buying a younger player to replace Rosicky, while finding someone who can create more chances for our strikers. From what I’ve heard, Grenier fits this criteria, but I’m sure Wenger has other options up his sleeve.
On the right we have Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, while we have Podolski and Gervinho on the left. On the face of it, that sounds like we are really strong on the wings. However, Walcott has voiced his preference for playing down the centre and often drifts away from the wings even if he is started out wide. Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t enjoy the best season in 2012/13 and often looks more effective in midfield, although I’m not sure Wenger is confident in his ability to start there on a regular basis. Podolski had a strong first season but went missing in some games, but he is the best finisher we have in the squad. Gervinho can show flashes of brilliance followed immediately by complete ineptitude. In short, none of our wingers can be relied upon to produce week-in, week-out. By their very nature, wingers will be inconsistent because they are required to attempt to take on the full-back, and it is difficult to succeed every time. However I do feel we could benefit from bringing in better wingers.
Conclusion: Wenger may not see it as this area as his top priority. But if the rumours are true that we have offers for Gervinho, then I’d be surprised if we rejected it. We could then replace the Ivorian with someone who is able to create opportunities on a more consistent basis.
Arsenal really only has one striker in the squad, and he has split opinion on his first season in England. He’s scored lots of goals and made plenty of assists, but some say he is a flat-track bully – most of his goals have come against the ‘lesser’ teams. In addition, he didn’t score ‘match-winners’ as Podolski and Walcott did on many occasions. I think we can all agree he’s a decent player who is good at holding up the ball, but he isn’t world class and even if he were, we’d want a back-up anyway. When we only had van Persie, Arsenal fans were still calling for Wenger to buy a striker to ease the burden on the Dutchman. You simply cannot play a 4-3-3 but only have one true striker in the squad. Podolski and Walcott can play in the centre, but I think they’d perform better in a 4-4-2 because they don’t have Giroud’s aerial ability.
Conclusion: A striker is our top priority, and I believe that Wenger has identified this as an area that requires strengthening.
Overall, it seems that we need a back-up keeper, a young centre mid, a consistent (more so than Gervinho, anyway) winger and a top striker. What do you think we need? Tell us in the comments section or tweet us on @talkingooners.
Sky Sports are reporting that Neves Denilson has signed a 4-year contact with Sao Paulo after agreeing to the mutual termination of his contract by Arsenal last week. This follows 2 seasons on loan at the Brazilian club, where he was playing after having failed to really establish himself in the Arsenal team since arriving in 2006.
Denilson was 20 years old when he was asked to step straight into the team and replace players like Gilberto and Flamini (and Lassana Diarra), which is a huge amount of pressure to put on any player. He played pretty much every single game in the 2008/09 season, but his fall from grace happened equally quickly. The emergence of players like Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, and a series of injury concerns, saw Neves sidelined for much of the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons, and he eventually announced in May 2011 that he wished to return to Brazil.
In a statement released by his new club, Denilson thanked Arsene Wenger for all of his support during his time in North London. Despite failing to really make a name for himself in European football, the Brazilian clearly has no regrets about his time spent with Arsenal and leaves the club on relatively good terms with both the staff and fans alike:
“Arsenal was literally my home for five years and it will be in my memory forever.
“I had to learn things the hard way, but luckily I improved and matured in England. I always lived alone, without mastering English and had great responsibility placed on me.
“In spite of all the difficulties the experience has made me feel even better as a man. I have more joy than sadness at having played in England and still feel honoured to have played so long for one of the ten biggest clubs in the world.
“I would like to thank all the players and staff during my time at the club, but especially Arsène Wenger, who was arguably the person who trusted and invested the most in me.
“He always treated me like a son and I have no doubt that Wenger was instrumental in my development as an athlete. He’s a fantastic guy.”
Good luck Neves. I am sure that your sideways and backwards passing are much appreciated in Brazil, but you just did not quite make it at Arsenal. There were occasional flashes of Brazilian flair, but we didn’t see them often enough.
Anzhi Makhachkala defensive midfielder Odil Ahmedov has confirmed to Russian newspaper Izvestia that he has been watched by Arsenal scouts this season and suggested that could be a huge succes at the club. While happy at Anzhi, he can see himself moving to England, Spain or Italy, with Juventus and Genoa also apparently monitoring the 25-year-old very closely.
“It is true that I have had interest from London club Arsenal. I am being watched by their scouts, who are watching over my every game. If I move there, I could be a huge success but there is no bid yet.
“Of course, I am very happy to play at Anzhi. This is a club with a great future, but I’d like to try in England or Spain. All these countries have great teams, but having the choice to play for Arsenal would be a dream.”
Arsenal appear to have been monitoring Ahmedov’s progress for a few years, having been linked with him on and off in the British and Russian press since 2011. He is valued at somewhere in the region of €4-6 million, which makes me think that this is exactly the sort of transfer that Arsene Wenger would love to make this summer. Unfortunately, I just don’t see us spending the huge amounts of money that everybody has been talking about in recent weeks.
Ahmedov has made more than 70 appearances since joining Anzhi two years ago from Pakhtakor FK of the Uzbek league and has 50 caps and 7 goals for the Uzbekistan national team, so there is definitely some experience there. Having earned a bit of a reputation as a tough-tackler and a player with a rocket shot, he is probably best known to our readers for scoring one of the best goals of the 2011 Asian Cup, which you can watch below:
What are your thoughts on this potential transfer? Remember to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Portuguese newspaper A Bola is linking Arsenal with a €45 million move for Argentina midfielder Nicolás Gaitán, who was a big part of Benfica team that got all the way to the Europa League final last season only to be beaten by Chelsea.
Gaitan was signed from Boca Juniors for £7.2 million in 2010, and has gone on to make 138 appearances for Benfica, scoring 18 goals and assisting a further 38. He has a release clause of €45 million which some newspapers now say that Arsenal will be willing to match, while others speculate that the Portuguese club could accept offers in the region of €25-30 million.
Gaitan has also been linked with a big-money move to Manchester United, and has been watched by United scouts on several occasions. When asked about interest from English clubs back in April his agent, Jose Iribarren, did not rule out a move to the Premier League, but also kept Serie A and La Liga open as possible destinations:
“He would love to play in England, but Spain and Italy also speak to him”
So where does this leave Arsenal? Well, I definitely don’t see us getting anywhere near his release clause, but €25 million is much more realistic when you consider the budget that Arsene Wenger has supposedly been given for the summer. However you look at it, securing the services of Gaitan would definitely be a big boost to the squad. A midfield of Cazorla, Wilshere, Gaitan, Ramsey, Rosicky, Arteta & Oxlade-Chamberlain is enough to scare any of our opponents!
Given that we are in the closed season, we are not expecting too many updates regarding injured players. One player in particular that we weren’t expecting to hear from for a long while is Abou Diaby, who Arsenal told us would be out for “8 to 9 months” after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament at the end of March. However, Diaby, who is currently recovering at the French national team training centre in Clairefontaine, has now told L’Equipe that he is already off his crutches and will be running again in a few weeks:
“I’ve got rid of my crutches. Now I have to walk. I’ll start running again in a few weeks. I want to take my time to ensure everything is good.”
The news of Diaby’s impending (possibly at some point) return should be good news for Arsenal fans, but the cynic in me only says that this means that Arsene Wenger will now delay signing a new defensive/central midfielder in the hope that the Frenchman will be back early enough in the season. Somebody needs to tell Arsene that we cannot rely on Diaby playing more than 10 games. He is essentially our Owen Hargreaves – a great player, but destined to spend forever on the sidelines.
So which midfielder would you guys like to sign this summer? The big rumour is Maroune Fellaini, but we are also being linked with Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Etienne Capoue and Maxime Gonalons.
The surprise news story emerging this week is one linking Theo Walcott with a move to join Rafael Benitez at Napoli for a fee of somewhere in the region of £23 million. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis told Football Italia that the club “require another right sided second striker” and that they are closing in on this player, and so the rumours started that it was Theo. However, there are a few reasons that I don’t think this transfer is going to happen.
It’s almost as if nobody told Napoli that 1) Walcott doesn’t need to leave Arsenal because we have Champions League football next season and 2) He just signed a new contract extension that keeps him at the club until 2016. Also, 3) It damages Theo’s chances of playing for the national team at the World Cup next summer, 4) English players don’t go abroad very often and 5) Arsenal don’t need the money. For once, we can get away with not selling one of our best players.
We know that Benitez was interested in signing Walcott back when he was Liverpool manager, and there were rumours a few years ago that he was trying to tempt Theo to join him at Anfield. The suggestion was that Theo would get more game-time as a central striker at Liverpool and was more suited to Liverpool’s style of play; he might consider the move because the start to his career in North London was relatively slow.
There are still many Arsenal fans feel the need to criticise him, but the fact remains that he was our top goalscorer last season and pulled us through a good through games where the team was struggling. While I appreciate that he can be frustrating to watch at times, those times are getting fewer and far between and I am expecting a big season from him in 2013/14. He’s not going anywhere (- apart from Vegas for his Stag weekend).
So Nicklas Bendtner has now confirmed himself as the 4th Arsenal player to be leaving this summer, following in the footsteps of Sebastian Squillaci, Andrey Asrhavin and Denilson. Having been loaned out to Sunderland and then Juventus, and given his attitude towards the club, there was little doubt that Bendtner would not be returning to the Emirates next season, but it’s still nice to have the news made official.
The Not-So-Great Dane has not featured for Arsenal since August 2011, and while his stats during his time at Arsenal were not terrible (45 goals in 157 appearances), he did very little to justify his place in the team over 4 seasons. In an interview, the 25-year-old now confirmed that he is in talks with 5 or 6 clubs and will choose a new home in the next 2 weeks:
“I am talking with five or six clubs at the moment over a permanent transfer.
“Things are agreed with Arsenal and I will decide which club I sign for in the next two weeks.”
Sky Sportsare reporting that Besiktas have been linked with a bid for the self-confessed Greatest-Player-in-the-World, while there is also interest from France, Germany, Holland and Portugal. His time at Sunderland was relatively successful, but he failed to score a single goal for Juve in just 10 appearances. However, I am sure that he could make a decent-ish striker at a middle-table club in Serie A or La Liga. Arsenal only want £3 million, which shows you just how much the club want to get rid of him and clear up some more space on our wage bill.
I particularly enjoyed this comment on Sky Sport, which pretty much sums up how all Arsenal fans feel about Saint Nick:
“The World’s greatest marksman, Nicklas Bendtner is leaving Arsenal. I don’t see him going for any less than $65m – this guy is serious talent. He’s got a 19 year old Michael Owen’s blistering pace coupled with Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s finishing, add the towering headers of Miroslav Klose and the brilliant runs and skills of the Brazilian Ronaldo and you have Nicklas Bendtner. We could have a serious bidding war and a massive payday for Arsenal on our hands. And not to mention he’s the most grounded athlete in the game. Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG are going all out for this one!” -
The news regarding Gervinho seems to be changing on a regular basis. One minute the Ivorian is being linked with a move back to France, the next he insists that he wants to stay and fight for his place in North London, then he was being linked with a move to Turkey, then France was back again, and now Newcastle are apparently closing in on his signature.
Gervinho was heavily linked with a move to Newcastle before he joined Arsenal in summer 2011. Alan Pardew had apparently been monitoring him very closely, and is now looking to make him the latest French-speaking player for the Toon Army for a fee of around £10 million (which is roughly what we paid for him). That is, of course, provided Gervinho doesn’t opt to join former club Lille or Marseille on loan or choose to move to Turkey.
There seem to be a host of Turkish clubs waiting in the wings, so we could see some action there. Besiktas, Fenerbahce or Galatasaaray are all being touted as possible destinations, which could be interesting. Turkey is becoming an increasingly competitive football league, with players like Emmanuel Eboue, Wesley Sjneider, Scott Carson, Didier Drogba, Johan Elmander and Albert Riera all choosing to ply their trade in the Süper Lig (- Yes, I did some research!).
The most ridiculous thing that I have read regarding a Gerv transfer is that Arsene Wenger will consider offering our winger + a bit of cash for Lyon playmaker Clement Grenier, who is worth around £8 million. We bought Gervinho for £10 million for 2 years ago, so I fail to see why we would be so willing to trade him in for somebody who is worth less and unproven at the highest level.
However, all of this is irrelevant if Arsene Wenger wants Gervinho to stay. Comments made last month would suggest that the player isn’t looking to go anywhere, although I am unsure why the lure of regular first-team football instead of the intermittent performances he puts in for Arsenal would not be enough to convince him to go elsewhere.
“I have a contract until 2015 with Arsenal and I intend to honour it.
“There is always speculation in the papers, but I am looking forward to a good holiday and to come back to Arsenal.
“I want to win my place in the starting line-up week in, week out.”
Partizan Belgrade president Dragan Duric has confirmed that Arsenal have contacted the club regarding their 18-year-old striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, but made it very clear that the club has absolutely no intention of selling the highly-rated forward this summer.
Reports that emerged from Sky Sports Italia and a Serbian newspaper were quickly denied by Duric, who is quoted in a Serbian newspaper as saying:
“I heard that business is already done.
“I would like to deny these rumours. There is contact between us but nothing else.
There is not a fraction of a per cent chance that we will sell Mitrovic this summer.”
Mitrovic apparently hinted at a move a few weeks ago on his personal Twitter account (which has since been closed), and has been linked with other clubs including Napoli, Porto, Benfica and Fiorentina. However, Arsenal appear to be at the top of the pile. The Serbian international (- he has played 1 game for the national team) scored 10 goals in 25 games for Partizan in his first full season of first-team football, having joined from Teleoptik last summer. While this is pretty impressive, I am not sure whether he has what it takes to be a regular Arsenal player in a few years time. Everybody talks about “potential”, but potential means nothing unless it is fulfilled. There are lots of players with potential who end up in the periphery of club football pretty quickly for various reasons.
On the one hand, Partisan do not want to sell and Mitrovic could definitely benefit from spending another year in Serbia. The chances are that even if he came to Arsenal he would be loaned out next season. However, the Serbian champions have let many of their talented young players go in the past and despite the comments made by Duric would probably be willing to listen to offers.
As far as I am concerned, Arsenal need to focus on the now, not on 2 or 3 years time. We have seen players like Wayne Rooney and Maroune Fellaini have been heavily linked with the club this week, so it’s time for Arsenal to show that they can put the money where their mouth is and actually make the big signings that we need. We have cleared a considerable amount of money off our wage bill with players like Denilson, Squillaci and Arshavin all leaving, so there should be no excuses!
Rather than writing one long article focusing on only one player, I thought that I would just quickly run through the two big transfer stories of the day. While they are stories that we have heard many times over the last few weeks, there seem to have been some interesting developments in the last 24 hours.
ESPN & Goal.com (among a host of others) are reporting that Arsenal have activated the £22-24 million release clause in Maroune Fellaini’s contract at Everton and hope to have a deal wrapped up within the next few weeks. Depending on where you are reading, Arsenal appear to have a transfer budget of anywhere from £75m-100m, and seem to be pretty keen to spend it. Sky Bet have apparently slashed the odds on Fellaini to Arsenal after a flurry of bets, but doesn’t mean anything other than that members of the public seem to fell that this deal is increasingly likely.
Under normal circumstances I would say forget about Fellaini because he is heading to Manchester United to join David Moyes, but I do not think that these are normal circumstances; this story seems to have legs and is not going anywhere in a hurry.
The other big story of the day comes courtesy of Ivan Gazidis, who said in an interview that they club are more than capable of paying the high wages of somebody like, say, Wayne Rooney, who is known to have handed in a transfer request at United and has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal.
Now just because Gazidis says that we can sign Rooney doesn’t mean that we will sign Rooney; apparently Arsene Wenger doesn’t decide who he is going to buy based on reputation and price tags. “What excites Arsene isn’t necessarily what excites you”. Lets just hope that Arsene is excited by players like Rooney and Fellaini rather than more players like Chamakh and Squillaci, otherwise I have very little hope for this summer.
“This year we are beginning to see something we have been planning for some time – the escalation in our financial firepower. We have a certain amount of money which we have held in reserve. We also have new revenue streams coming on board and all of these things mean we can do some things which would excite you. But what excites Arsene isn’t necessarily what excites you.
“It is going to be the players that Arsene believes in. He is pretty blind to price tags, he looks at what he sees with his eyes and makes judgements based on that, not on reputations and prices.”