Transfer speculation is beginning to pick up again after a relatively quiet week or so (relatively being the key word here). But rather than absurd rumours such as Ribery or Benzema, both the BBC and Sky Sports are revealing that Arsenal have bid for English centre back Phil Jagielka.
Sources such as Gunnerblog indicate that Arsenal bid £12 million last summer, which Everton considered derisory for their esteemed defender. Since then, he has had a decent season, playing in 33 of the Toffee’s Premier League matches. He also participated in his first competitive England game last September, in a 4-0 win over Bulgaria. John Cross, of the Mirror, said of Jagielka after that game:
“[Phil] read the game brilliantly on a night when he proved his credentials.”
So naturally, one would assume that Wenger might raise the bid slightly if he is serious about bringing the defender to the Emirates. Far from it, Arsène has apparently just offered only £10 million for Jagielka (you won’t be surprised to hear that it was rejected). Last March, the centre back signed a new four year deal with the Toffees, putting them in an even stronger negotiating position (take note Arsenal, this is how to make sure your best players don’t take advantage of you!).
Phil has credentials from Division 1 to the Premier League. He has played in Europe for Everton and is now stepping up to the international scene. I certainly believe he would be a great addition to our defence, but right now I’m hoping for anything – Samba, Cahill, Jagielka, Dann, Sakho, Mertesacker, Baines, Vertonghen… the list goes on and on. We just need a defender with some experience to prevent the issues that dogged us last season and even in our pre-season draw against Hangzhou Greentown.
Of course, unlike myself, Wenger has a clear picture of precisely which defender he wants and why. However, £10 million for an established Premier League defender is rather low. It doesn’t seem plausible, I just can’t imagine Arsenal making such a bid. I know Wenger would rather get value for money, but everyone knows that English players come with a hefty price tag – look at Young, Downing, Henderson and Jones. There isn’t a single quote on the internet which indicates that we actually have made a bid. No comment from Arsenal, Everton, Jagielka, his agent or even someone ‘in the know.’
Basically, this sounds made up. I still reckon we will get Samba or Cahill. Well, I hope so anyway.
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.
Although it was announced last week that Ivory Coast international Gervinho was set to join Arsenal, the paperwork has now gone through and as of today he is officially an Arsenal player. The news was confirmed by Arsenal.com:
Arsenal Football Club is delighted to announce that Ivory Coast international forward Gervinho has finalised his switch to the Gunners, joining the Club on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee.
The fee is undisclosed, but is believed to be somewhere in the region of £10.5 million. Yes, Gervinho is probably worth considerably more, but the fact that he was entering the last year of his contract with Lille has clearly worked in our favour. The length of the contract has also not been revealed, but I would imagine that he will have signed at least a 3 year deal.
Gervinho himself was then quoted on the club website. He is clearly very happy now that the transfer is finally completed and is relishing the opportunity to play for us next season.
“It’s a great feeling to be an Arsenal player. I’m very happy. I’ve always dreamed to play for this Club. I’ve achieved this dream now and I am so happy. It’s one of the most beautiful days of my life.
“I’m very happy to have the chance to work with Arsène Wenger. I came here because I believe that he can improve my game and help me reach another level, but the most important thing for me is that I bring a lot to the team for whom I’m playing.
“I want to use my time here at Arsenal to develop my strengths.
“I know English football is harder and I might need a bit of time at the start, but ultimately it is down to me to raise my game and adapt.”
Although Gervinho admits that adapting to English football will be a challenge, I am sure that he will be more than capable of playing in the Premier League when the season starts at St James’s Park on 13th August. Let’s just hope that Wenger can follow this up with a new centre-back and a central midfielder to replace Fabregas.
If we are to accept the reality that our best player, Cesc Fabregas, is set to leave the club this summer, then we must also do our best to get the most out of his departure.
Fabregas is probably worth in the region of £40-50 million, given his talent, his age and his contract. At £90,000/week, he is our highest paid player, so losing him would give us more room to manoeuvre in terms of wages. Barcelona will not offer much more than £35 million, and even that won’t be paid up front. From what we hear, a fee of £32 million plus around £5 million in add-ons (should Barca and Cesc do well in the future) has been agreed. Some fans would express anger at such a low transfer fee for our Spanish maestro, but let’s remember Thierry Henry – arguably the best player to put on the Arsenal shirt – left for £16 million. Also bear in mind that Cesc wants to leave, and Wenger will oblige if our captain insists.
Barcelona have expressed their interest in a player-exchange deal, apparently. In my opinion, they would prefer a cash-only deal. However, they may not have enough money to carry out such a transaction. Therefore, it has been reported that Maxwell or Abidal may be used as a make-weight in the deal for Cesc.
Rumour has it that although Fabregas returned to training, he has refused to carry out all the necessary medical requirements and may not travel to Asia. Whether this is true is debatable, but one thing is for sure – Cesc wants to leave the club at some point, and Barca are making bids this summer. The European Champions are less public than last season, but it is still clear that they want our talisman.
Abidal is a 31 year old French left back. With Clichy gone, he could provide great cover in that position. Despite his illness last season, he made 41 appearances for Barca. He could pass on his valuable experience to Gibbs, who has talent but lacks game time. However, Wenger has often been reluctant to sign over-30 year olds, leaving Maxwell as a more obvious choice, should such a deal materialise.
Maxwell is 29, two years younger than Abidal. He could slot right into the team, due to his pace and attacking prowess. If he were to arrive, he would solve our left-back problem. In my opinion, he is far superior to Abidal, who is probably past his peak.
Likeliness Rating (Abidal): 2/5
Likeliness Rating (Maxwell): 3/5
It seems most likely that Barca will do their upmost to keep their stars, whilst bringing in Fabregas at the same time. Of course, if Pep Guardiola wants to use Messi as a make-weight for Cesc, Wenger may be more willing to release our captain. Our manager’s comments today expressed his desire to keep Nasri and Fabregas at the club, but Straight Talking Gooners believes this to be quite unlikely. Perhaps these quotes were simply a facade to keep the fans happy until some signings are announced.
It is now looking increasingly possible that Thomas Vermaelen could be reunited with his former Ajax teammate Jan Vertonghen. Reports in Algemeen Dagblad (which RvP would be able to tell you is a Dutch newspaper) suggest that Ajax would be willing to let the Belgian international leave the Amsterdam Arena provided another European club were willing to match their valuation – thought to be around £10-12 million.
Vertongen is 6″2 and, like Vermaelen, is renowned for his strong aerial ability and even his eye for goal. He is also well-known for being proficient at taking free-kicks (which may be something we could use bearing in mind that Robin van Persie only seems to hit the post/crossbar or miss the target altogether – not that I would ever intensionally insult our Dutch striker!!).
However, Ajax coach Frank de Boer says that the club are yet to receive a formal offer:
“For Jan Vertonghen, Gregory van der Wiel and Maarten Stekelenburg there is currently no concrete interest.”
“It would be difficult to lose them, especially if it was at the last minute. So I hope that all three remain.”
In my opinion the advantages of signing Vertonghen are numerous. He has already developed a strong partnership with Vermaelen during their seasons together at Ajax and for the Belgian international team, and would bolster our defence significantly. He is 24 and has enough first-team experience to convince me that he can cope with the Premier League. Having made 99 appearances for Ajax over the last two seasons (scoring 10 goals in the process) it is clear that he does not suffer from any significant injury problems and is more than capable of dealing with playing week-in week-out.
It is known that Vertonghen had previously been monitored by Arsène Wenger, but it is unknown if he is still on our radar. That said, if he is anything near half as good as Vermaelen then surely he is at least worth taking into consideration?
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.
Mirko Vucinic’s agent, Alessandro Lucci, has confirmed that several English clubs have shown an interest in the Roma striker and that his future in Rome is currently in the balance. It was suggested last week that Roma would offer Vucinic as part of a player-exchange deal for Gaël Clichy, but it is now looking increasingly likely that he will move to Juventus. Blackburn had been linked with a potential move for the Montenegro international, but Lucci (speaking to Sky Italia) ruled out a move to Ewood Park:
“It’s not news that two English clubs are interested in Vucinic, but it must firstly be understood whether the relationship with Roma is definitely over. Only in that case will the alternatives be taken into consideration.
“For the moment we are only in the first phase. It’s not the right moment to talk about Vucinic and other clubs.
“He feels good in Rome, he has friends and he has his home and the will to stay, but in football it happens that something can break.
“It’s true I met Juventus, but we spoke about many players. They got information, but for this to become a negotiation there is a lot to do.
“Blackburn talk is just a rumour. It is a respectable club but I think Mirko deserves a more prestigious club.”
Vucinic has scored 63 goals in 200 appearances for Roma; not the worst goals/game ratio, but not exactly the best either. Whether he is “Arsenal material” remains to be seen. We have been linked with a ridiculous number of strikers in recent weeks, and I believe that we are much closer to agreeing a deal for Gervinho, although I wouldn’t completely rule out a potential move if Wenger fails in his other targets.
Velez Sarsfield Sporting Director Christian Bassedas has admitted that keeping hold of midfielder Ricardo Alvarez is “impossible” as Arsenal look set to complete their first signing of a potential busy summer. Sarsfield told TyC Sports yesterday evening:
“It is impossible for him not to go, we cannot retain him. There are offers that are [irrefutable]… not just because of the figure, but if Arsenal come, well… then you have to tell the player ‘look, you deserve it’. Ricky has a lot to win.”
Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini had already conceded defeat in the race to sign Alvarez, revealing that he believes that the move to Arsenal is already a done deal. Talking to Italian radio station Radio Kiss Kiss, Zamparini said:
“We did have a concrete bid for Alvarez and had him in our grasp back in January… Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the move in time, so we lost him to Arsenal. At this moment he has already signed for the Gunners.”
It is believed that the transfer fee will be in the region of around £11/12 million. Apparently this deal looked like being finalised last month, as we mentioned on Straight Talking Gooners, but Velez (who play in the Argentinean Primera division) stalled because they were unhappy with the transfer fee – an issue which has since been resolved.
At 6″2′ (roughly the same height as Abou Diaby), Alvarez has a strong physical presence. As I mentioned the other day, this is something that we are significantly lacking in midfield. However, he is not as well known for his goalscoring ability as I had hoped for. 4 goals in 29 games for Velez Sarsfield last season is hardly outstanding, and I wonder how well he will cope in the Premier League. That said, I really hope that he proves me wrong.
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.
According to reports in the News of the World, Arsène Wenger looks set to step-up his interest in Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Wenger is probably in need of a new central midfielder if one of Cesc Fabregas or Samir Nasri were to leave (not forgetting that we are also set to sell Denilson), and will be looking for a player with at least a few years of Premier League experience. We simply don’t have time to wait for a player from another European league to adjust to the physical demands of English football.
Speaking to 7sur7, Fellaini made it clear that he does not plan on staying at Everton for the rest of his career and is tempted by a move to bigger clubs that plays European football:
“One thing is certain, I want to play in a team that wins trophies and play in the Champions League. Everton is a team of sub-top [not of a high enough standard].”
Fellaini has become well known for his large hair, with many Everton fans regularly sporting afro wigs (photo from nicksarebi on Flickr)
Despite being sidelined since February with an ankle injury, Fellaini has been linked yet again with a move to a top European club. The 23-year-old had been linked with moves to Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich before he joined Everton from Standard Liege for £15 milion in 2008, and has become one of the most important members in the Everton squad.
Fellaini, a Belgian international, is believed to be valued at around £25 million, but it would seem that Everton are reluctant to let him leave. Only 3 days ago it was reported that David Moyes had offered him the option of a contract extension, as he only has 2 years remaining on his current deal. The club have since said that they are confident that he will sign a new contract.
The only issue is that Fellaini does seem to pick up a lot of injuries which keep him out for extended periods. Do we really need another talented player to sit on the sidelines? If he can shake-off his injury problems then, in my opinion, Fellaini would be a decent signing for Arsenal. At 6″4′ he provides a physical presence – something that we are lacking in midfield – and plays strong attacking football.