Acknowledged by all, Arsene needs to recruit one or two centre-backs.
The addition of Silvestre was a disaster. Gallas may or may not stay for another season, position wise he is the best reader of the game at the club, but he is losing speed and is not brilliant in the air. Toure is a fighter can be flustered easily. His best form is when he plays alongside a real centre-back like Campbell or Gallas. Djourou is developing well, but to expect him to come in and be the leading person at the back is asking too much of him, so recruit we must.
Domestically there are three candidates.
Matthew Upson, a player we sold because he could not break into the team at the time and was suffering with injuries. Upson knows the game, but as he is 30 years old so will not be a long term prospect. Arsenal may try to use Vela’s impending loan spell at Upton Park as leverage in acquiring Upson.
A much younger player, but well respected within the game is Middlesbrough’s David Wheater. With Middlesbrough about to be relegated, a £6 million offer from Arsenal could see Wheater move to Arsenal. Whilst he is not the experienced player we have all been craving for, he has definitely a player who has put in some commanding performances this season.
Newcastle United’s Sebastien Bassong is another who has been mentioned. He is 22 years-old, but has not really performed spectacularly this season, saying that no many Newcastle players have! The plus points of Bassong is that he is French (always a plus for Arsene) and he can play at left-back. As with Wheater, Bassong is not the experienced player we have all been calling for.
Looking abroad we have Real Madrid’s centre-back Christopher Metzelder. Metzelder is highly regarded in Germany, but through a combination of injuries and the revolving managerial door policy at the Bernebeu, Metzelder has hardly featured in his two years.
Arsenal scouts have been seen at Stuttgart’s games recently with former Chelsea player Khalid Boulahrouz being their target. Boulahrouz had an indifferent spell at Chelsea and the Blues could not wait to sell him at a massive loss. He has Premier League experience and is a full international, so he may be the player who brings the experience to the club.
Looking further afield, Arsenal should look at Russia. You are guaranteed to find a no nonsense defender there, players who are prepared to scrap and fight for every ball, and with Arshavin at the club he may help sway any player into joining us. At CSKA Moscow are the Berezutski twins Alexei and Vasili. Alexei plays as a centre-back, but has also operated as a full-back. His brother also operates as a centre-back and full-back and both players are contracted until 2011. Whether we have the financial muscle and will to take on another Russian team remains to be seen, but if we were to try and buy these two away from CSKA we will be guaranteed of acquiring two quality players.
Arsene Wenger has gone one record as saying he will augment the current squad today or tomorrow. Expect tomorrow to be a hectic day with rumours and counter rumours. There are two positions that Arsene will be looking at, central midfield and another wide midfielder.
One position that we need to re-enforce is the wide positions. We currently have Nasri, Walcott and Rosicky. Wenger likes to play Eboue, but in all honesty, he supplies very little and is not effective. Unless
the boss plays Eduardo out wide we are short of options. Malouda was a player we looked at last season, but were not prepared to meet Lyons’ valuation nor the wages offered by Chelsea. He is a good athletic player and French! He has not settled in at Chelsea and they would like to re-coup some of the transfer fee. A move by Arsenal for the winger in the region of £9M will test the Blues determination as to whether Malouda is part of Scolari’s future or not. Again he has the attributes of being a winner and experience, under Wenger the Premier League will see the best of Malouda, and it will give the player the chance to establish himself on the world stage after a disastrous first season at Chelsea. We did business with Chelsea last summer and the summer before at midnight bringing two other French players to the Emirates, Lassana Diarra and William Gallas, so do not be surprised if another makes the switch tomorrow night.
The central midfield position has been debated long and hard all summer, several of our “targets” have either joined other clubs or extended their contracts at their current clubs. Add to this the complication that some might be cup-tied for the Champions League and Arsene tendency to the unexpected and it is anyone’s guess as to who will sign. I still think that Alonso is our main target and this will give Benitez the money to make a final push for Barry. Do not believe the public pronouncements of Barry, if Liverpool make a bid that is near the Aston Villa asking price he will be in his car and up the M6 so quick that O’Neil will not know what to do. Alsono will give us experience and variety in midfield. His array of passes will open defences, and his shooting ability is something that we have lacked in midfield. Wenger has stated that a cup-tied player is not an obstacle for him.
Many stories doing the rounds today claim that West Ham will offer Arsenal £8M for Djourou and Metzelder will be joining on loan from Real Madrid. What we need to ask ourselves is does this make sense? Metzelder will join and be our reserve cente back after Silvestre, how has this advanced his own career, leave Real to join Arsenal and still not be guaranteed a centre back berth? Wenger has said you need four centre backs in the league, we have Gallas, Toure, Silvestre and Djourou and Alex can play there too. Where is the logic in selling a young and promising defender to replace him with a loan trasnfer who will probably not join next season? Metzelder is an experienced defender, but his performances at Euro 2008 were not anything to write home about.
A move for Alonso and Malouda will be great for Arsenal, projecting us back into title contention with two experiences winners and goalscorers, whislt the Metzelder transfer has no logical merits to it, it is short temr at the expense of the long term development of Djourou, certainly not the Arsene way.