To Buy or Not Buy – That Is the Question
As another season draws close, Arsenal fans are anxiously waiting for the two or three experienced players Arsene Wenger indicated will be on their way at the end of last season.
We have seen three members of the squad leave this season, Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb and Gilberto. The players coming in have been three youngsters, Samir Nasri (21), Aaron Ramsey (17) and Francis Coqeulin (17); the latter will spend the next couple of seasons in the reserves. Also due to arrive is another youngster, 21 year old Amaury Bischoff.
Clearly these are not the “experienced” players we were expecting, though Nasri looks like being a better player in the short and long run than Hleb.
Last season we faded in the latter quarter when players started to get injured and tired and the squad was exposed as to how thin it was. A season on and we have lost three “experienced” players and replaced them with the hope that the young players left behind are a year older and will get better..
Two of the players brought in have immense talent and ability, Nasri will make many heads turn with ball control and skills, whilst Ramsey is highly rated by all. Arsene has big ideas for young Ramsey, “Overall he can play wide, he can play centrally,” Wenger said in an exclusive with Arsenal’s official magazine.
“I think in the future he will be a central midfielder. How is down to him and down to us on how well we work with him?
“In my mind though there are no restrictions on his development, because he has played a lot already.”
The crucial part of the statement was the word “future”. We already have two youngsters Denilson, and Diaby vying to play alongside Cesc, what most fans were hoping for was an experienced central midfielder to be brought in like Gareth Barry to help “nurse” the youngsters through. The Barry transfer might still happen whilst the team is out in Austria. Allowing Gilberto to leave meant that Arsene had a central midfielder lined up.
The dilemma facing Arsene Wenger is that for every established player he brings in, one or two of the youngsters are pushed further back in the pecking order. “Of course I am in a position where I can spend the money,” Arsene Wenger told Arsenal TV. ”But every time we have done such a great job with the young players that you are concerned ‘do we kill a young player or not by bringing another player in?’
If Wenger bought another striker, as many fans have been crying out for, where will that leave Vela or Bendtner or Walcott, all three have immense talent and the first two are regular scorers for their respective national sides. The arrival of Martins or Huntelaar will send the signal to these players that they are not trusted by the manager and their future may lie elsewhere.
In midfield, everyone is waiting to see Fran Merida in the team, a player that some sources at the club say will better Fabregas. Then we have Henri Lansbury and Mark Randall, two homegrown Arsenal boys, whom the coaching staff have been waxing lyrical about their abilities. These are amongst the bath of players coming through our Academy system who will make it in the first team. If Arsene splashed the cash, as we all demand, where will these players develop?
There is a fine line between developing your own players, giving them first team opportunities and keep buying established stars. The established players give you experience whilst the youngsters give the manager, the coaching staff and the fans great pleasure in seeing “one of our players make it”.
Arsene is no fool, he knows that going into a crucial season with a midfield made up of, Fabregas (21), Nasri (21), Diaby (22), Denilson (20), Walcott (19), Rosicky (28), Eboue (25), Merida (18 ) and Ramsey (17), is too young. He will bring in a player or maybe two with experience into this midfield; these experienced players can help the youngsters not hinder them. An ambitious player will see this as a challenge and will raise their game. If they run to the press or their agent and complain, then they are not worthy of staying at Arsenal.
Next season, Wenger will be able to give the younger players greater exposure as the Premier League rule on substitutes and every team can name seven players for the bench. This will afford the manager the luxury of giving the likes of Ramsey, Randall, Song, Vela etc. a place on the bench and if things are going well to let them have fifteen minutes league experience. Playing league football is vital and Carling Cup football is a cheap substitute.
There is no contradiction between developing your young players and bringing in experienced players. The two are intertwined, they are not and either you do one or the other. The art is getting the right balance; Arsene has proven in the past, with Fabregas, that you can develop a youngster alongside experienced player, Vieira and Gilberto. As he has done so before he will do so again, failing to bring in further experienced players will be akin to committing football suicide.
In Arsene we trust.