Arsenal’s European Legion
Arsene Wenger will be busy this summer in the transfer market, but when looks at bringing players in he has to negotiate carefully as there is a small army of Arsenal players who were scattered throughout Europe.
Of the players plying their trade, Pedro Botelho is the most likely player to make the Arsenal first team squad this season. He is a left sided, pacy player, initially a left-back. He has spent two years in Spain, playing for Celta Vigo and last season for FC Cartagena where he played on wing and had a very successful season. With the imminent departure of Gael Clichy, Botelho will provide adequate back-up to Kieran Gibbs.
The player that Wenger would love to get back to the Emirates is Ryo Miyaichi. Arsenal signed the young Japan player in January this year, but loaned him out to Feyernoord. So good was Ryo that he held his own in the Eerdivisie and made 12 appearances scoring 3 goals. So impressed have the Dutch been that he has been given the name “Ryodinho” and been compared to both Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo. If Arsenal fans are to see Myaichi next season, it will require the club to get a work permit as an exceptional talent.
Another youngster who has excited Wenger is the Brazilian striker Wellington. Arsenal tracked this lad for several seasons before finally landing the striker in January. Once again British red-tape meant that Wellington had to go to Spain and play for Levante, or in Wellington’s case not play. He had several disagreements with the coaching staff so his playing time was restricted. Wenger believes that this striker can make the grade now rather than later, but once again it will depend on getting a work permit; otherwise it is another season on loan in Spain.
The most likely player to make the grade next season is Francis Coquelin. He has spent two seasons at Arsenal, learning the trade in the reserves and making three first team appearances. Initially bought as a midfielder, he was later switched to right-back. Coquelin spent last season at Ligue 1 club Lorient where he played in midfield making 25 appearances and scoring 1 gaol. Coquelin has represented France at all levels up to under-20, he was part of the France squad that won the European under-19 championship last summer. This summer he is part of the France under-20 squad competing for the FIFA under-20 Championships. It is this inclusion that could hamper his progress at Arsenal as he will be away with France from the end of July through to the middle of August.
Fellow France striker Gilles Sunu has trodden the same path as Coquelin. Several season in Arsenal’s youth and reserve set-up followed by a couple of appearances for Arsenal and a loan spell at Derby County. Sunu spent last season at Lorient. His loan spell at Lorient saw Sunu make 9 appearances and scoring 1 goal. Sunu is also part of the France under-20 squad. It is unlikely that we will see Sunu at Arsenal next season; I imagine he will have another season on loan at Lorient.
Last summer Arsenal signed the Bolivia winger Samuel Galindo, once again Galindo had to go to Spain and play for second division side UD Salamanca. Galindo has also made his full international appearance for Bolivia. Galindo will probably spend two more seasons on loan in Spain. As with Vela and Botelho, he will gradually move up the ranks in terms of Spanish clubs to ensure that he is ready for first team action when he re-joins Arsenal.
Any signings by Wenger will have to take into account the progress of these players. Arsenal have invested heavily in these players and Wenger will wish to incorporate this players into the first team squad sooner rather later.