Arsenal has suffered some terrible bad luck with defensive injuries this season. We lost Sagna, Gibbs and Jenkinson all with a 17 days in October, but the loss that has hurt us most was the loss of Santos in December. Santos was an attacking full-back and gave us extra attacking options something that has been lacking in recent weeks.
With the loss of Santos and news that Gibbs had a further setback, Wenger stated that he will look at a full-back for a loan option as we do not wish to drop points because we are short of full-backs. This statement was made mid-December. Arsenal have an extensive scouting network and great contacts throughout the world. We are now mid-January, having dropped 6 points this year and still no sign of any defensive re-enforcements, neither at full-back nor central defence and there will not be anybody arriving either.
Once again Wenger makes a statement of new recruits and the result is zero activity. There are two reasons for no players coming back.
By the end of January Vermaelen, Sagna and Gibbs will all be back in contention for the starting line-up, so Wenger will try and patch-up the defence once more against Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers in the league and hope we do not drop any more points.
The second reason why Wenger will not enter the transfer market, is that there is no room in the squad for an overseas player. In fact unless Wenger sells one of Almunia, Squillaci, Arshavin or Rosicky, there is no room for Henry in the squad! So unless we have a minor clear-out there will be no new signings this window. The maximum number of non-home grown players is 17.
Arsenal Squad 2011-12 (Non-Home Grown Players)
Well the transfer window closed last night and unlike windows of the past, Arsenal were doing business all the way until it slammed shut. Four players were confirmed last night as having signed, with Park announced the day before. It was clear from the start of the season that Wenger had to act to change our fortunes and only time will tell if Le Professor has bought correctly.
The first three signings, Park, Santos and Mertesacker were players that we should have secured before the season started.
A centre-back was a priority all summer, several names were linked and we made two bids for players, Jagielka and Cahill. Everton wanted £18M for a 30 year old defender with little international experience, so Arsene moved his attention to Cahill. An offer of £6M plus Bendtner was made, this was ridiculed by Bolton who wanted £17M for a player in the last year of his contract and with a handful of international caps. Rightly so Wenger made a move for German international Mertesacker and secured a player who is one year older than Cahill, but has 75 caps for one of the top nations in world. The fee £8.8M! The Neanderthals in the British media say he is too slow and we should have gone for Cahill or Jagielka or Dann. Mertesacker was not bought to win the 100M at the forthcoming Olympics, he was bought to defend, to make challenges, win headers and tackles. A player does not represent Germany 75 times if is he no good. This was a great move by Wenger. My only question is why could we not have bought him a month ago?
When Clichy left, no Arsenal fan shed a tear, we knew in Gibbs we had an adequate replacement, in fact Gibbs will go one to become a great left-back. However, we thought Wenger will buy Enrique, we needed cover and competition at left-back, but Arsene though Traore was capable to cover at left-back. This was surprising as Traore had been converted into a left sided midfielder by Arsene. Wenger soon saw the light and on Sunday night news broke that were in talks with Brazil international Andre Santos. We secured a strong, attacking full-back for £6.2M, this is good business, his record at Fenerbahce is one goal in five games. Santos has again been slated by the blinkered British media as non-entity, who is he, if he was any good he should be playing La Liga or Serie A. I believe Santos will be the player to bring the best out of Gibbs. Another great purchase by Wenger but one that should have been concluded once Clchy left.
Search for a striker should have started in May when Wenger allowed Bendtner to leave. It ended with the acquisition of South Korea captain Park Chu-Young for a fee around £2.6M from Monaco, though in the process we upset Lille!
Having sold Nasri and Fabregas, much to Wenger’s surprise, though everyone else knew it would happen, Wenger had to move in for a midfielder or two. Rumours were abound with bids made for Hazard, Martin, M’Vila, enquiries for Vargas and Montolivio, but these were young players, big money was required and a bedding in period. So Arsene looked closer to home, he turned to Chelsea and Everton. Inquiries were made for Arteta and Benayoun and after some brinksmanship the players were brought in one on a four year deal and the other on loan (due to work permit complications). Arteta and Benayoun will bring experience, graft, inventiveness and goals to our midfield. Both players will be good signings for Arsenal.
Interesting Arteta took a pay-cut to join Arsenal, what is that about, Arsenal are massive payers overall, but when it comes to our top players we are reluctant to offer big money.
Now that the window has closed and Wenger has his squad for the season, we can now focus on getting our season started and start to move up the table. A good run of results could see challenging by December, but we need to keep players fit, stop picking up silly red cards and start to take our chances.
On the departure front, youngsters Joel Campbell and Henri Lansbury went out on loans, whilst Gilles Sunu joined Lorient on a permanent basis. Niklas Bendtner was unable to find the “big” club to play for and has joined Sunderland on loan. Bendtner will do well at Sunderland as he will be playing regularly as the main striker, this could work well for Arsenal as his value can only go up. Worryingly for Arsenal fans is that Almunia is still at the club as is Squillaci.
Arsenal cannot stand still however, new contracts must be offered to van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen otherwise we will be in for a nightmare summer in 2012. Arsenal must re-evaluate their transfer policy and in particular the way we complete transfers, I am referring to the two that got away Ricardo Alvarez and Juan Mata. Arsenal also need to re-asses their wage structure, not every player in the squad is worth £50K -£60K a week, we need to reward some players with £100K plus a week contracts.
Transfer deadline day looms and Arsenal are still in the market for midfielders, this is not idle blog gossip but Arsene Wenger stated we are short of players in this area. This became self-evident in recent games were the creativity has been left to Rosicky and his best days are behind him.
Today is a day we will all go mad in following rumours and tweets.
MVila was the player we were linked with and apparently made a £22M bid for the France international, but Rennes want £30M. I doubt Wenger will stretch to £30M, but Wenger could try and push this one through, though M’Vila is more of a defensive player.
Until the window is closed the Eden Hazard to Arsenal bandwagon keeps rolling on, though Lille are reluctant to sell to Arsenal following the Park transfer, the possible arrival or Joe Cole on loan and also Arsenal could offer Chamakh as part of the deal. Though it is being reported in La Voix du Nord that Liverpool have first refusal on Hazard for 2012 due to the possible Cole deal.
Further afield, Italy in particular, Arsenal have been linked with Montolivio and Vargas from Fiorentina. Could Wenger go for a double Italian scoop?
Closer to home Wenger has made inquiries about Everton duo Arteta and Felaini and also Chelsea duo Benayoun and Malouda.
My preference will be for the Everton duo, but in dealing with English clubs the transfer fees will be inflated, but the positive is that we know what they can do in England with no bedding process required.
Do not discount a last minute move for either Gary Cahill or Chris Samba.
On exit front Bendtner, the self-confessed best striker in the world, is in talks with Stoke City. Manual Almunia has disappeared off the radar; this is daunting as he could appear in an Arsenal shirt in the forthcoming months. Two other Arsenal players that could have gone in this window, but arte likely to stay as we are short of players are Arshavin and Rosicky.
Most worrying is Henri Lansbury. Wenger went on record to say he will give him a chance, but Lansbury’s appearances this season were against Liverpool when we were down to 10 men and a cameo appearance at the Old Trafford Massacre. Not really the chance the Lansbury deserves. If Wenger cashes in on Lansbury, Arsenal FC should close down its Academy. This is one of the best players to come out of the Academy and he has been given zero opportunity by Arsene, whilst the likes of Rosicky and Arshavin stroll around the pitch with minimal effort.
What amazes me is that deals can be concluded in hours at this time of the season, players jet in from everywhere to undertake medicals in a matter of hours, whilst during the rest of the window it could, if you are an Arsenal fan, take weeks for transfers to be concluded.
It appears that both Park and Santos have been signed subject to work permits, which we need confirmed today.
Arsenal are in advance talks with long-term transfer target Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen, with a fee in the regions of €10M having been agreed. Mertesacker is 6’ 6”, which will help us at both ends at set pieces. The German defender is 26 years old (27 in September) and has played 74 times for Germany. This is the experienced tall commanding defender that we have been crying out for, his critics talk about his pace, but how quick is Djourou and how effective is Djourou?
Arsenal have made enquiries about Benayoun and Malouda, I expect one of these two to join Arsenal. Malouda is a more direct player with an eye for goal, whilst Benayoun is a creative player but is injury prone.
It is possible that Wenger could conclude four deals for £25M, leaving the Cesc transfer fee free for two major signings.
With the arrival of Mertesacker, does this signal the end of the Cahill deal? Gartside must have regretted his comments over the week-end that infuriated Arsene Wenger. If Gartside had kept quiet and merely told Arsenal that £6M plus Bendtner was a non-starter but can we talk about cash plus a loan deal, then Cahill could still be an option. Bolton’s problem is that Cahill is in the last year of his contract, if he refuses to sign a new contract, then Bolton will lose the one major asset for nothing and this is a club with major financial problems.
I still believe that Wenger fancies Cahill, but he refused to pay £17M for Cahill. Wenger’s valuation is probably around £10M. Unless Spurs step in and offer Bolton £15M for Cahill, I can see Wenger renewing his interest in Cahill tomorrow, but this time he will not be desperate for the player as he would have secured Mertesacker. Bolton will be negotiating from a position of weakness and the deal could be clinched for around £10M. If this happens, this is typical Wenger, the artful poker player, always ensuring that the cards are stacked in his favour.
Wenger’s pursuit of either Malouda or Benayoun is a sign of defeat in the purchase of Hazard. Lille were always reluctant to sell both Gervinho and Hazard in the same window, so this is a player that goes onto the backburner and the pursuit starts again next summer.
Arsene will turn his attention north, and in particular Everton. The targets are Arteta, Fellaini or even Rodwell. Rodwell will be a typical Arsene move, a young player, someone who will be in demand in a year’s time from Manchester United, but the cost will be £20M, which will concern Arsene. Arteta is a player whom we made a bid for in the past (probably £6M!), he is creative but as with so many of our players on the small side. The one that I would like to see is Marouane Fellaini. He is young, 23 years old, tall 6ft 4” and is a solid midfielder. Fellaini cost Everton £15M three years ago and Everton are trying to extend his contract, however a bid from Arsenal around £20M could tempt cash strapped Everton. Everton have not spent any money this summer meaning Moyes has been unable to strengthen his squad, £20M wil lalow the Everton manager to go into the market at this late stage.
If Arsene finishes August with Park, Santos, Mertesacker, Malouda, Cahill and Fellaini, then Arsenal fans will be looking forward to the Swansea match on 10 September, the doom and gloom of August will be behind us.