Two days after the drama of Italy Arsenal fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Our Champions League group has us in an awkward group with Borrusia Dortmund, the German champions, Olympiakos (Greek Champions) and Marseilles. Qualification will not be straight forward, but it never is for Arsenal even when we win our first three games it goes down to the wire!
Arsenal face Manchester United on Sunday with the following players missing from our midfield, Wilshere, Diaby, Song, Frimpong and Gervinho. Wenger will be a genius if he can put a team out on Sunday and come away from Old Trafford with anything.
Other pressing issues for Arsenal fans and players are new players. It was widely rumoured, correctly or not, that qualification for the Champions League group stages will see the cheque book come out. What we have seen so far are more rumours, speculations, players being tracked (we should have tracked them before) and agent/player’s quotes.
Wenger appears set on midfield re-enforcements, however he has qualified this by saying that we still have Wilshere and Diaby to come back from injuries, a worrying trend as far as Wenger transfer polices. These two players will add to the depth of the squad, but it just shows that a couple of injuries and we are struggling.
We have been linked with a loan move for Kaka, which has been rubbished by Kaka and turned down by Real Madrid, though a possible purchase could be on the cards, the price £17.5M. That would be the most audacious moves of Wenger’s time at Arsenal, Kaka was one of football’s stellar performances, but he has lost his way since moving to Real Madrid and Mourinho is not a Kaka fan. Whether Kaka will take a cut in his “galacticos” wages is a different matter.
The Times today links Arsenal with Malouda, a player that Wenger was looking at before he went to Chelsea. Malouda’s future at Chelsea has been in doubt for some time, and now that Chelsea have acquired Mata, his position is in further danger. He has reportedly turned down a move to Juventus. He will be the type of experienced midfielder that we need in the attacking part of the field, he can create goals and is always at the far post looking to score. His transfer could be linked to whether Chelsea buy Modric, but Malouda joining Arsenal would be a great signing.
Arsenal’s search for a defender continues. Wenger’s preferred option is Jagielka, a player who wants to stay at Everton, a player whom Everton consider “unsalable” and one for whom we offered £13M.
Wenger has looked at Cahill, but considers £17M too much for a player in the last year of his contract. WE have tried with a pathetic £7M bid today which was rejected out of hand. Wenger could try a last minute offer of £13M, knowing that Bolton cannot afford to lose Cahill on a free next summer. The alternative is that Wenger and Arsenal have made it clear to Cahill’s representatives that Arsenal will sing him next summer if he has not signed a new contract. This is a high risk strategy, especially as Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool could all try and get him on a free next summer and will all offer wages that we will never be able to match.
Scott Dann is another option, and I do not think it is a coincidence that Dann has not played in either of Birmingham’s Europa League games. Dann will be the cheaper option, probably around £8M, and with such a price tag will not be expected to play every game.
Another report is that Arsenal have been offered Raul Albiol, the Real Madrid and former Arsenal target. Wenger liked him a couple of years ago, but Real went on their mad spending splurge and he became a victim of “galacticos 2”.
The logistics of the transfer window are not helpful. There are games this week-end, then players start to report to their countries for the forthcoming set of international games. Wenger and Gazidis need to move fast to ensure that we buy two or three players or the fans will not be happy.