Arsenal fans are gearing themselves for an influx of players, we are waiting with baited breath. We are also aware that the exodus from the Emirates will be a big one this summer. Players who have not made the grade, others who have not had the opportunity and some who think the grass is greener on the other side of the tracks.
Starting at the back, the first player to be shown the door is Manuel Almunia, probably a season too late. Almunia had a nightmare season, at fault against WBA in both games and dropped after each game, Wenger will let Almunia go for anything and I think Almunia will want to get away from the club, he ranks 3rd choice at the moment.
Wenger’s other decision will be whether to bring in an experienced goalkeeper, if he does then either Vito Mannone or more likely Lukas Fabianski will also leave this summer.
In the defensive line, Sebastien Squilaci will be allowed to leave on free transfer if we sign both Samba and Gary Cahill. Squillaci was signed as fourth choice centre-back, but due to injuries to Vermaelen he appeared 32 times for Arsenal. Wenger will keep him as 5th choice centre back if he fails to land both his centre-back targets.
Gael Clichy looks like he will definitely leave this summer. Wenger does not appear to have made any effort to keep the France international and he is right not to open contract discussions with him. The only question is where he will go and the price. Roma appear to be the favourites and the fee around £8M.
Emmanuel Eboue our loveable Ivorian could also be on the way out. I would be sad to see Eboue go, not necessarily for football reason, but he is the joker in the pack, the man who will greet every player at the end of each game, the player who leaves the pitch last. Eboue could be frustrated with his lack of first team opportunities and ask to leave. If he does leave his fee will be around £8M.
Midfield could see several players leave. Denilson has started that he wishes to leave, well the feeling is mutual. This player has been given 5 seasons to prove himself, an opportunity not afforded to Sebastien Larsson or Fabrice Muamba, both of whom are better than Denilson. There will be no tears shed over his departure. Denilson has been offered as a makeweight in our attempts to lure either Willian or Costa from Shaktar Donetsk. The value of Denilson will again be in the region of £8M.
Tomas Rosicky will be allowed to leave and his destination will be the Bundesliga. Rosicky has never recovered from his massive injury. Arsenal have remained loyal to him, but this summer he will be told his is no longer required and will go on a free transfer.
The interesting player is Andrey Arshavin. A player of immense talent; but the laziest player in our current squad. His former club have made noises about buying him back, but the player has stated he does not intend to leave. If Wenger secures Gervinho and one of Willian or Alvarez, Wenger will listen to offers for the Russian in the region of £10M.
The one player we all expect to see leave this summer is Cesc Fabregas, forget about the Barcelona posturing over lack of transfer funds or that Cesc’s value has dropped, Guardiolla is obsessed with Cesc and fee of around £30M plus players will be agreed this summer.
Nicklas Bendtner has made is clear that he wishes to leave and there is interest in the Dane. Bendtner was never given the chance to play as a striker; Wenger was obsessed in playing him on the wing. Bendtner has neither the pace nor the ability to play in the role, Arsenal‘s valuation is £12M and we should stick to this figure.
Another player never to have fulfilled his potential is Carlos Vela. Is Wenger prepared to give him one more season to prove he can make it or will Wenger say its time to say goodbye? There will be plenty of takers in Spain and Vela will have some success there, the fee will be around £6M.
We could see up to 11 players leave this summer; these departures could add £82M to Wenger’s transfer budget which is already reported to be £60M! What players can Wenger bring in with £140M?
On 31st August 2006 at around midnight, a name crossed the Sky Sports News rolling ticker, Denilson signs for Arsenal. After that, there was silence. Who was this person? Where did he play? How good is he? How old is he? These were just some of the questions being asked by Arsenal fans.
We had to wait until the Carling Cup to see who this player was and during the first season he made some fleeting appearances, he was only 18 so we were not expecting much from him. In his first season, he made 13 starts. Last season he was unable to make any great impact and at one point he disappeared from the radar, neither being named as a substitute nor listed as injured. It must have been very hard for a youngster to leave his home and come to a foreign land where it was cold and raining most of the time, look what it did to poor Baptista!
The Arsenal coaches have high expectations for Denilson, in the same way that they expect great things from Merida and Diaby.
With the departures of Gilberto and Flamini in the summer and our failure to bring in any central midfielders, Denilson was left with the duties of playing a defensive role. This was flawed from the outset, Denilson is small in stature and will not grow more, and until he is “bulked” up and is too easily knocked off the ball. Denilson was never bought to be the “enforcer” in the team, his role is more akin to Fabregas, he is a creative player who prefers to go forward and as he has shown this season he is capable of timing his runs to score goals.
In his formative years his delivery from free kicks or corners was excellent, he also packed a mean strike from distance, we need to see more these traits from the young Brazilian.
Denilson will develop into a more forceful midfielder, he will never be a giant like Vieira, but he can turn into a Flamini type player. Flamini was not big, nor did he possess as much skill and ability as Denilson, but what he did was constantly harassing opponents. It must also be remembered that Flamini was older than Denilson and his best season at Arsenal was after being at the club for four years.
The media has not taken to Denilson primarily because we are struggling, yet Flamini was held up as our saviour and the answer to our central midfield problem. Denilson is still learning the game; he will make mistakes about positioning and tracking players, but as longer as we see improvements and progress then the fans need to get behind Denilson.
Having started the season well, scoring a couple of goals, and filling the boots of Flamini admirably, recent weeks have seen Denilson run out of steam. Still young, Denilson needs to take a deep breathe and realise he is at the crossroads of his career.
Wenger has opted not to recruit anybody else, though this may change in January. Arsene either as a deep lying striker or as an auxiliary winger favours Diaby, whilst Song is at most a temporary stopgap in central midfield. The only other contenders for the central midfield berth are Ramsey, who will develop into a very accomplished midfielder and a host of youngsters who are two or three seasons away from the first team.
Denilson has the skill and ability to emulate and surpass Flamini, who had one very good season at Arsenal, but has become a mythical figure at the Emirates on the back of one season. Denilson has all the attributes; he is a hard worker, great at passing, possesses a good shot, and is good at delivering crosses. So why has Denilson looked completely lost?
He does not track back, does not put in a tackle, is unable to pass, and is petrified of shooting. We have lost the real Denilson and are now left to carry a player. Sunday could decide whether Arsene adds to midfield, which he needs to do, in January or whether he decides that Denilson can carry us the distance this season. Denilson needs to assert himself, make himself a nuisance to the Chelsea midfield, and start to tackle. On Tuesday, we will see Ramsey command the midfield against Burnley and it is only a matter of time before Arsene gives the opportunity of playing in central midfield in the Premier League.