As revealed late on Tuesday night, Arsenal have completed the surprise signing of Mikael Silvestre from Manchester United. The France defender becomes Arsenal’s fourth summer signing and will add experience and versatility to the squad. The greatest surprise was that Ferguson allowed him to move to one of United’s rivals. What will shock Arsenal fans is that Silvestre, aged 31, is being offered a two year contract, whilst Wenger let Gilberto leave, 31, and now we are trawling Europe looking for an experienced midfielder.
Following Silvestre’s arrival, it was no surprise to learn that Armand Traore had joined Arsenal’s south coast retirement home, Portsmouth. Traore is a raw talent, spending time in Arsenal’s reserves with the occasional Carling Cup game will not improve him as a player. A season or more on loan at a Premiership club or a Championship club will benefit Traore. He will be exposed to top rate wingers week-in week-out at Portsmouth and be al to improve on his defensive qualities. At Portsmouth he will come under the defensive instructions of Tony Adams, if he is sensible he will listen to the Arsenal legend and improve ten-fold.
The great piece of news coming out of the Emirates is that Arsene Wenger has stated that he is still after another player, and that it will be a midfield player. When pushed as to whether Barry is out of the equation, Wenger merely stated the obvious that a player’s value drops if he is not available for European competition, but that does not preclude you from buying him. Wenger stated that he might surprise the media as he did with Silvestre. Whilst not dismissing the Barry link, this might have been a way of Wenger telling Beintez that if he doesn’t get his finger out over selling Alonso to Arsenal, Wenger is prepared to move for Liverpool’s number one transfer target of the summer. This will be a kick in the teeth for Benitez and might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, leading him to resign.
Other target for Wenger are Gohkan Inler, he will be a cheaper option than either Barry or Alonso, however he is not the experience we need. I am sure given the chance Diaby or Denilson will perform as well as Inler.
Miguel Veloso has again been mentioned as interesting Wenger. The drawback is the high transfer fee that Sporting Lisbon expect to receive for him. A transfer fee of £18M, is the transfer fee that was expected for Barry and Alonso before their European appearances redcued these fees. The Veloso transfer link is being engineered by his agent, who is desperate to get a move for his player and is running out of time and clubs.
I clearly believe the Alonso is the number one target for Arsenal, as demonstrated in the recent Spain game he is a goalscoring midfielder, something that Diaby and Denilson clearly are not. Alonso will add to the experience of the squad and to the attacking abilities of our midfield something distinctly lacking last season. But Arsene being Arsene it will not surprise anyone if the new signing is one who has not been mentioned in dispatches so far. Time is running out, the FC Twente game is 6 games away, this was the target set be Wenger for a new midfield signing, we will have to wait and see.
Arsene Wenger has stated that he will sign a player of experience before the FC Twente game, with most players on international duty this week, can we expect the signing to be completed before the Fulham game?
Wenger does not normally talk about players, but when asked about Alonso he said he was a player who interested him. In addition we have had Benitez admit that Arsenal have held talks with Liverpool over Alonso. The stumbling block being the £16M asking price that is being demanded by Rick Parry to the annoyance of Benitez. Benitez wants the sale of Alonso to go through to finance his purchase of Gareth Barry from Aston Villa.
Benitez chose to play Alonso against Standard Liege, thus ensuring he is ineligible to play in the Champions League this season for any other club. This one move will ensure that his value has dropped to a more realistic £12M, a figure that Arsene will do business at, despite his European non-availability.
Alonso has had enough of the situation and has demanded that Liverpool let him leave for either Arsenal or AC Milan. He feels that Benitez does not want him anymore and that he rates Barry above him. He as a substitute in yesterday’s league game coming in the second have for Plessis and made the goal for Torres.
Alonso will be a great signing for Arsenal, he will combine well with Fabregas, he has the Premier League experience that Wenger wants, he is the big name player that the fans have been demanding. One of our weaknesses is the number of goals from central midfield, well Alonso is certainly not shy to shoot from outside the area.
Alonso will excite the fans and give the team the added boost they need in theri quest for silverware.
Whilst the players have been going through their paces in Austria, Arsene Wegner has been going through his book of possible midfielders to bring to the club. Having seen the paucity of players available to him, the Arsenal manager must be regretting allowing Lassana Diarra to leave in January.
Wenger would like to bring someone in before the Emirates Cup and has five players on his radar and has made tentative enquiries about three of them already this summer.
It has been well documented that Pat Rice spoke to Aston Villa assistant manager Steve Walford about Gareth Barry. Even though Liverpool were making all the running on this transfer, things have cooled down as it appears the Liverpool do not have any money to spend on players unless the sell players. Barry would be a good acquisition for Arsenal as he does not need any time to acclimatise to the Premier League. Arsenal will be able to pick him up for around £14M.
Arsenal have already had a bid turned down for Xabi Alonso, Liverpool are holding out for £16M, the exact sum that will price away Barry from Aston Villa. Alonso’s main exit route was Juventus, but they baulked at the price and went for Paulsen from Sevilla at £7M. Unless Atletico Madrid or Barcelona are prepared to stump up £16M, Liverpool will either have to lower their price to help finance a bid a for Barry or they will keep Alonso. Wenger will not wait around for Benitez to make a decision as we could be waiting till next summer!
A player that was rumoured to be on Arsenal’s radar earlier in the summer is Michael Johnson of Manchester City. The plus points of Johnson is he is young, English, has Premier League experience and will cost in the region of £12M. But is he the experienced player Wenger has spoken about? I doubt it and this is probably agent talk to try to flush out other potential purchasers.
Going abroad, there are two potential targets, Miguel Velosso of Sporting Lisbon has been touted by his agent all summer to anybody who would listen but to no avail. He is young, but Sporting are demanding £18M for a young player who is part of the Portugal squad but not a regular.
The other target is the younger brother of Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure. Wenger had a close
look at Yaya several seasons ago, but was unable to buy him as he would not have qualified for a work permit. Toure then went on an odyssey of football outposts before finally arriving at Barcelona last season. It is well known that Arsenal tried to get Yaya as part of the Hleb deal, but this did not materialise. Not to be deterred, Arsenal have spoken to Barcelona about completing the move for the younger Toure, but talks are at an early stage. Barcelona may be prepared to let Toure leave if they buy Velosso. Yaya has gone on record as to say that he would love to link up with his older brother Kolo. The arrival of Yaya Toure at the Emirates would be a solid signing.
One player who will not be coming to the Emirates is Andrei Arshavin. Zenit are demanding £22M, whilst he players wants £100,000 per week. Only Chelsea will not bat an eye-lid at such demands.
Having lost four midfielders (Lassana Diarra, Mathieu Flamini, Gilberto, Alexander Hleb) in the last six months, it is no surprise that Arsene Wenger is after another midfielder to add to Samir Nasri’s arrival. Recent interviews have alluded to this and the Wenger confirmed this in an interview after yesterday’s game.
Nasri was recruited as a direct replacement for Hleb, but the central midfield has been depleted, leaving Diaby and Denilson the only recognised central midfielders to play alongside Fabregas.
“We will need one more body in there,” said Wenger when asked about his midfield. “At the moment we do not have Alex Song who is going to the Olympic games, Abou Diaby was not here tonight and nor was Fabregas.
“If we find a reasonable target then we will do it. But there is no special name on the list.
“We have some time. We have until August 31. We left 11 players back in Austria for this game. They will play in Stuttgart [on July 30].”
I can confirm that Arsenal made a written offer for Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso last week. The offer was turned down by Liverpool as they are reluctant to sell one of their top players to a rival. Alonso is still on Arsenal’s radar, and Liverpool will become more susceptible to an offer if they are unable to raise funds for either Robbie Keane or the main summer target Gareth Barry.
In other news, it appears that Kolo Toure picked up the disease at home in the Ivory Coast and though the extent of the malaria is not known, he may now be a doubt for the start of the new Premier League campaign.
This news comes on top of the news that Rosicky will be out until September, and Eduardo will be out until October.
On the positive side, Carlos Vela made his debut against Szombathelyi yesterday and looked sharp and strong. Vela is striker, but his creative abilities could best serve Arsenal in a wide position. In a post match interview, the Arsenal manager was impressed with Vela’s contribution, “It was his first game and I felt around the box he was very intelligent, very clever and technically good. Overall he was quite good. Physically he needs to work, but I’m happy.”