Santi Cazorla’s arrival at Arsenal has sparked further discussion over the future of Robin van Persie, with many in the betting world claiming the north London club can now do without their star striker this season. Cazorla is manager Arsené Wenger’s third summer signing, with strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud already new acquisitions at the Emirates.
While many have claimed Wenger is spending big money to match RVP’s trophy aspirations and keep him at the club, the pundits on Betfairare now suggesting the boss is building a new squad without van Persie in mind. Wenger has learned from mistakes made last summer, and is dipping into the transfer market relatively early by his standards.
A year ago, both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were on the verge of being sold for well over two months. Both players eventually moved on dangerously close to the summer transfer deadline, leaving Wenger to desperately scrabble around for midfield replacements. Although Mikel Arteta has done a commendable job in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield, he is by no means an adequate replacement for the pair who departed.
Arsenal suffered at the start of last season from squad disharmony and weakness in depth, which aided their 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, just three games in to last season. Wenger, having learned from this, has made his moves early this summer. His trio of new stars look set to run riot in the Premier League this season and, with Podolski capable of playing in the centre of a three-man attack, RVP’s place is now somewhat tenable.
Of course, Arsenal will still hold out for the right price for their Dutch superstar, but losing van Persie should by no means be the end of their title ambitions this season or in years to come.
Abou Diaby has had surgery on his ankle. This has been a rather longstanding problem that affected him quite a lot last season, so hopefully this will finally put it right. It is likely that Abou will be out for eight to ten weeks, meaning that he will miss the games against Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester United, and also the Champions League play-off. This means that he will probably be back by the end of August. Here’s what Wenger had to say about the situation:
“Abou had ankle surgery during the break,
“Normally he should be back eight to ten weeks after his surgery, which means the end of August.”
I am not quite sure what to make of Diaby. Like many other people at Arsenal, he has promised so much, but has rarely delivered. Comparisons have been made between him and former Arsenal legend, Patrick Vieira. Yet, Diaby has struggled to hold down a first team place. That said, with the likes of Fabregas and Wilshere as your competition, who can blame him?
Wenger has often deployed Diaby in a sort of holding midfield role. I don’t think this is his position though. He is most certainly a box to box midfielder. The problem with Diaby is that he is great at getting to the final third, but once he makes it there, he is clueless about what to do. He can never seem to find the final ball or realise when he should be shooting (not that many Arsenal players actually like shooting anyway). He sometimes seems to hang onto the ball too long or pass backwards in order to not lose the ball. I do think that if he were given a few games to build up some form, he would not look so confused in the final third. I do think that there is more to come from Diaby. Perhaps a change of formation or the departure of Cesc will give Diaby a chance to prove himself.
Pep Guardiola claims that Barca “will fight to the end to try to sign Cesc because we believe he will improve the team and the squad.” It doesn’t seem that Guardiola understands the way transfers work, and neither do the rest of the Barca squad. The constant comments to the media regarding Fabregas’ proposed transfer only serve to make their club seem less and less impressive. They play great football, have great players and win loads of trophies, but there is a clear lack of class. He says that the Catalan club will continue to try to sign him until 31st August. However, I reckon that Wenger will want to get his transfer deals done before the season starts. With such a busy beginning to our campaign, Arsène should look to have the squad sorted well before our trip to Newcastle.
Apparently Arsenal are set to hold out for a £40 million offer, although Barca only offered around £27 million earlier in the summer. That bid was rejected, and rightly so. In my opinion, and that of many Gooners, Cesc Fabregas is worth far more than £40 million. He should probably be valued closer to £50 million, especially when we consider that he has a few years left on his contract.
Both Wenger’s and Guardiola’s comments, along with Cesc’s silence, and our captain’s “injury” (which, as was commented on the blog yesterday, will surely disappear the moment he signs for Barca) all indicate that Fabregas will be leaving the club this summer.
Likeliness Rating: 4.5/5
As we revealed earlier in the week, the deal for Joel Campbell seems to be slipping away. Although he is yet to sign elsewhere, he has been contacted by another Premier League club as well as Fiorentina and possibly some clubs in France. Deportivo Saprissa’s President was not happy that the Arsenal deal wasn’t finalised, saying that “it’s a shame that Costa Rican football could not have a player at Arsenal at this time.”
Some sources say that Joel will wait for the Copa America to finish until he makes a decision on his future. After missing out on Ricky Alvarez, Wenger would not be pleased to lose out on Joel Campbell. His stats are impressive, and Campbell’s rise to first-team international football has been spectacular. This deal is far from out of our reach, but it is becoming less likely by the day.
Arsenal are thought to be lining up a bid for Napoli attacking midfielder Marek Hamsik as a potential replacement for Cesc Fabregas. It would seem that Marseille are extremely reluctant to let Mathieu Valbuena move to the Premier League, so Arsène Wenger has instead set his sights on the captain of the Slovakian international team.
However, Napoli will not part company with the 23-year-old easily. Their President even came out this week and gave him a €100 million price-tag. Yes, Hamsik still has 4 years remaining on his contract (so Napoli are in an extremely good position and can to some extent dictate the terms of any transfer), but €100 million seems to me to be completely ludicrous. Maybe that just shows how desperate the Italians are to hold on to him?
To that end, the club’s coach, Walter Mazzarri, remains confident that Hamsik will remain at the club. Apparently he is enjoying life in Italy and is looking forward to playing in the Champions League next season. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Mazzarri said:
“Marek is happy to work with me and he is very motivated. He is happy to remain here… I have spoken to him and from what I know, in the end he will not leave.”
In my opinion, Napoli would find it extremely difficult to turn down an offer in the region of £25 million – you can see the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea offering this almost immediately and beating us to his signature. That said, if Arsenal and Napoli were somehow able to agree a fee later on in the summer, then Hamsik would be a near-perfect signing for the club. His stats over the last few seasons (47 goals and 21 assists in 168 games) show that he creates many goal-scoring opportunities and it is also worth noting that he has a good injury record – which is something that cannot be said for many of the current Arsenal players.
This morning’s Daily Star suggests that, should we lose Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Gaël Clichy as expected, Robin van Persie will hand in a transfer request to Arsène Wenger.
Apparently our Dutch ace is extremely worried that Wenger is selling our big-name players and emerging talents without bringing in sufficient world-class replacements, and even spoke to some of his Holland teammates about considering moving to a club which could offer him more trophies.
Photo by Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr
In my opinion, the Daily Star is just creating speculation because news is slow and they need something to print. There is very little chance of Robin leaving this summer, especially as he is most probably lined up to replace Fabregas as captain next season. Not once has RvP ever indicated that he has even the slightest desire to leave the club. He has finally overcome his injury problems and remains fully committed to the club; anything that you read can be immediately dismissed.
The Daily Star is well known for being one of the most reliable newspapers. Apparently, their main story tomorrow is that Lionel Messi is considering moving clubs because he is unhappy at the of a lack of trophies at Barcelona, with Crawley Town set to offer 50p for the Argentinian superstar. It is also thought that Christiano Ronaldo is considering retiring from football.
Transfer news from Arsenal has been relatively slow over the last few days. It seems that we are just being linked with the same players (Gervinho, Alvarez, etc…) over and over again, but nothing has yet been confirmed. Everything remains pure speculation as we near the opening day of the transfer window. Apparently Friday 1st July will be a big day for the club, although I am yet to be convinced. There is, however, one player I would like to talk about this morning:
According to reports in Bild (a German newspaper), Arsene Wenger has identified Bayer Leverkusen’s Arturo Vidal as a potential replacement for Cesc Fabregas/Samir Nasri. Vidal (a Chilean international) has a contract which keeps him at the club until 2012, but it is thought that an offer in the region of €15 million (£13.3m) would be enough to tempt Leverkusen to let him leave.
Vidal has also been linked with Bayern Munich, but (in the same way that Arsène Wenger refuses to sell Samir Nasri to another Premier League club) Leverkusen are refusing to let him move to another Bundesliga side. Despite reports that Napoli are interested, AC Milan remain the only club to have made an official bid. However, their offer of €10m (£8.8m) was quickly rejected.
As a result of the increasing speculation, and the bid from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller told the Rheinische Post that the club would only sell Vidal for the right price:
“To agree a deal for Arturo Vidal we would expect to receive an extraordinary bid. We have not received a suitable offer as yet. There is nothing like that on the table.
“Taking that into account, we expect Arturo Vidal to remain at the club for the upcoming season.”
Vidal made 35 appearances for Bayern last season, scoring 11 goals and making 12 assists. 10 league goals made him the club’s top goalscorer as they came 2nd in the Bundesliga, ahead of Bayern Munich (who were Champions League finalists 2 years ago). These stats are pretty impressive, but there seem to be other midfielders that we are much closer to signing and, in my opinion, this one looks like a long-shot.
Today is going to be a bit more of a rant than usual, as I seek to vent my frustration at Barcelona and all the annoying speculation that has arisen from their extremely public pursuit of Csec Fabregas.
An article that I read earlier on the BBC Sport website has spread like wildfire, with all the major news websites now reporting that the Arsenal board are ready to sell Cesc Fabregas. The BBC apparently spoke to “a senior Arsenal official” who gave them inside information about the future of Cesc Fabregas.
“The offer [from Barcelona] was made formally in writing to our chief executive [Ivan Gazidis], and we said no straight away. Possibly [Barcelona will make another bid]. If it’s enough I expect we’ll have to sell.”
The first line of the article reads:
“Arsenal are prepared to sell Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona if the two clubs can agree a fee, BBC Sport has learned.”
For those of you who need to read it again, I am going to repeat the most important part of the sentence:
“if the two clubs can agree a fee”
In my opinion, the source has not revealed anything new to the BBC. We already knew that Barcelona had made an official bid a few days ago that was rejected by the club, and the fact that Fabregas will move to Barcelona if/when the clubs finally agree a fee is not exactly a revelation. That’s just common sense! However, you could equally make the exact opposite point. Fabregas won’t be leaving if the clubs continue to argue over his valuation.
Wenger is keen to keep Cesc at the Emirates (photo from RonMac on Flickr)
Football clubs are (after all) a financial business and the majority of managers – ignoring the clubs owned by the Roman Abramovich’s and Al Mubarak’s of this world – will be forced to sell their key players when other “bigger” clubs offer large sums of money. If there is an offer matching our valuation of Fabregas then we will almost definitely sell him. It’s not difficult to understand and it’s not some big secret that the BBC have just uncovered. I just wish that somebody would explain this to Barcelona!
Barca have already offered us £27 million, but Arsène Wenger immediately told them that he is worth in excess of £40 million and probably closer to £50 million. Call it a “buy-out clause” – because that is essentially what it is. We don’t want to let our captain go, but if Barcelona are able to meet our valuation then we will have to let him leave. Of course, it’s not just about the money. Fabregas himself may attempt to force a move if he is really as desperate to leave as the media seem to suggest. But the money would be a good start.
If Barcelona stick by their previous comments and don’t offer any more than £35 million, then Fabregas won’t leave. It’s that simple. Wenger will do anything to keep hold of him, and Arsenal fans want him to stay.
According to The Times, Arsène Wenger has made a club record £18 million bid for Valencia midfielder Juan Mata, who has just returned from the U21 World Cup. Our current club record is Andrey Arahvin (who cost around £15 million). It is thought that Mata had wanted to wait until his international duties were over to discuss his future at Valencia. “Los Che” are in a terrible financial position and are currently looking to try and clear their huge debts.
Despite the £34 million sale of David Villa to Barcelona last summer, Valencia will need to sell a few more of their key players over the coming months. Mata has also been linked with a move to Liverpool, although comments that he made a few days ago suggest that the most likely destination will be the Emirates.
“I don’t know if I’ll be sold, it depends on the economic situation of the club, which right now isn’t so good. In the summer we have to raise a lot of money, and there is a possibility that they may have to sell players. I admire Arsenal and the philosophy that the young players have.”
From what I have heard/seen, Mata (who has scored 46 goals in 172 games for Valencia) has all the qualities that Wenger normally looks for in a young attacking player. He normally plays on the left wing, but can also be used as part of a front two (just off the striker) and is known for being a highly intelligent midfielder with great pace and attacking flair – i.e his arrival would soften the blow of losing Samir Nasri and/or Cesc Fabregas.
Mata is a player that I would genuinely be excited about seeing at the club. He possesses good goalscoring ability and, like most Arsenal players, loves to make runs at the opponents defence. His age is also a key factor. At 23, the same age as Cesc, he has plenty of experience playing in La Liga but also has not yet reached the peak of his career. The question is whether we believe that Wenger is ready to spend big this summer and make sure that we secure the players that we need.
Should the Spaniard make the move to the Emirates, I would like to see Wenger play him on the wing and move Theo into the middle. The two can swap around mid-match if necessary, but Theo always seems to be more threatening when he is playing in the centre.
According to The Mirror, Arsène Wenger has offered Jack Wilshere an improved 5-year contract which will keep him at the club until 2016. Wilshere signed a contract extension in November, but it is thought that Wenger feels that he is deserving of a pay rise following his emergence as one of the club’s most important young players. It is believed that the pay-rise could be as much as an extra £10,000 per week.
Wilshere already has 5 England caps at the age of 19 (photo from RonMac on Flickr)
Wilshere started more games than any other Arsenal player last season, and has even been touted by many as the future of English football. Having already earned 5 international caps, it is all but certain that Wilshere will be included in Fabio Capello’s squad for the European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine next summer. He was named England’s Man of the Match in their 2-2 draw with Switzerland last month.
As much as I wait in hope for Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri & Gael Clichy to sign new contracts, it is important that Wenger does his best to ensure that our emerging (or emerged in the case of Wilshere) talents are kept happy. They represent the future of our football club.
With Aaron Ramsey as his potential midfield partner in future seasons, I would suggest that the Wilshere/Ramsey partnership could even become our equivalent of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
Roma’s Sporting Director, Walter Sabatini, has revealed that the club have reached an agreement with Barcelona for highly-rated striker Bojan Krkic. While making his way through Barcelona airport, Sabatini spoke to Sky Italia:
“We reached an agreement with the player himself and also with his club. The negotiations are at an advanced stage and we hope that we will now be able to complete everything.”
However, a spokesman for Barcelona (speaking to the club’s website) contradicted the comments made by Sabatini, claiming that the deal is yet to be finalised; Barcelona are merely considering a bid from Roma.
“There is an offer from Roma for Bojan, but we are still studying and evaluating it. It’s difficult that Roma can claim for fact something has been done when it is still being considered.”
According to Catalunya Radio, if the deal goes through, Roma will pay around €10 million for Bojan, although Barcelona will have the option to re-sign him in the future.
Bojan Krkic celebrating a goal against Sporting Gijon (photo from tpower1798 on Flickr)
Only a few weeks ago, the Daily Mail reported that Arsenal and Liverpool had both been monitoring the 20-year-old, who has struggled to retain a place in Barcelona’s starting line-up. However, it is now looking increasingly likely that he is on his way to Italy to join his former youth coach Luis Enrique.
Bojan has scored 41 goals in 163 appearances for Barcelona, and reportedly scored over 900 goals while he was playing for the club’s youth team/Barcelona B. At one stage, there were even suggestions that Bojan could be used as a makeweight should Barcelona choose to increase their bid for Cesc Fabregas – although this always seemed unlikely.
In my opinion, it is not such a big deal if we have missed out on Bojan. We are close to signing Gervinho and I am sure that there are more than few players that Arsène Wenger will be watching closely over the coming months. There is still the possibility that Bojan will come to Arsenal, but it is looking increasingly unlikely as the days pass. I wouldn’t be surprised if Barcelona/Roma confirm the deal early next week.