Another Saturday comes around and the usual suspects are still being linked with Arsenal.
Ricardo Alvarez, yes the player were supposed to have signed on a free transfer, who then become subject to a tug of war between Arsenal and Manchester United, is back in the frame or perhaps not. Arsenal sent over representatives to discuss the transfer with his club Velez Sarsfield, reports (or rumours) were that Velez wanted £10M. The trail went cold, then TalkSPORT reported that Roma were to sign the Argentine winger. Now we have Argentine media reports stating the Alvarez will sign for an English club next week. All we can say is that Alvarez is a player that Wenger has identified as someone who can add to our attacking options, though once the name is out in the football world other teams will jump on the bandwagon. As usual Arsenal are remaining very quiet, though we know that Wenger is due to go to South America soon, could it be to conclude the deal for Alvarez?
An old favourite has re-emerged, Blaise Matuidi, the St Etienne midfielder stopper / playmaker is back on the scene. This is the third summer we have been linked with Matuidi, the first link was in 2009 when we were “close to signing” Matuidi for £2.5M, then in 2010 the fee had risen to £8M when we about to sign the St Etienne player, now we are being linked with a £13M offer. It has been rumoured that Blaise has indicated that Arsenal is his preferred destination, but Wenger’s priorities are defence and attacking options, at least until he knows what will happen with Fabregas. Will Wenger spend £13M on Matuidi, I doubt that will happen, this story is more about Matuidi’s agent trying to drum up interest in his player.
Arsenal were also linked to Samuel Eto’o, but at £30M and 30 years old, the only club who would spend that sort of money for a has been are Chelsea. Eto’o is a great striker, but is he really the player we need? Perhaps if the fee was £8M he would be worth considering, but £30M plus £6M a year wages, not even Wenger will be mad to contemplate a deal for Eto’o.
A new player on the block is Jose Enrique the Newcastle United left-back. Enrique is coming into the final year of his contract, and has indicated that he wants to leave. He is 25 years old, 6ft 3” and battle hardened in English football. The Times has indicated that Arsenal have made contact with representatives of Enrique. Enrique would be a perfect replacement for Clichy. He will share the left=back slot with Gibbs and would cost around £8M.
Finally a story breaking from Italy is that Arsenal and Manchester United are in talks, whatever that might mean, with the agent of Mirko Vucinic the Roma striker, the asking price £26M. Vucinic is 27 years old and a Montenegro international. The sources for this story are the player’s agent and as is usual when an agent spreads stories and uses a couple of big teams it is to flush out other potential buyers. I doubt Wenger or Ferguson will even contemplate Vucinic unless the fee was around £12M.
No doubt by the end of today there will be 3 or 4 more players linked to Arsenal and tomorrow we can add a further half a dozen. These keeps us all guessing as to what is going on behind the scenes, what players is Wenger actually talking to and has the club made any offers for any players.
When teams are relegated there are normally no rich pickings as the squads are so below par they would not bring anything to your team. This season we have season on of the “giants” relegate in Newcastle United, whilst Middlesbrough are team laden with young talented players.
Wenger should take a look at several players who could add to our squad.
Steven Taylor is 23 years old and has made over 100 appearances for the Magpies in the Premier League. Taylor is a central defender, but can also play as a right back and left back; he is a player who has gone about his job quietly but effectively. Had Taylor been at a top four team, he would have been an England regular. Taylor is a London lad, so there would be no issue about him settling back in London. Taylor signed a new contract last summer earning him £35,000 a week. With the Geordies down players will be looking at their personal career progression. Wenger could acquire Taylor for £8 million. Taylor would be a major addition to our squad and the perfect defender.
Taylor’s defensive partner Sebastien Bassong is also a defender who is available. Bassong is French, which makes him a favourite for the press to link him with Arsenal. Bassong is 22 years old and can play a central defender or left-back. The player has stated that he is not interested in playing in the Championship. There will be a scramble for his signature. Bassong has been a stable player this season, but has been prone to a few errors of judgement.
If Arsene decides to sell Adebayor, then he will no doubt take another look at Obafemi Martins. Martins is 24 or 27 years old and a Nigerian international. He has a good scoring record for Newcastle, 28 goals in 88 games. He has great pace, is strong, aggressive and scores from outside the area as well as from inside the box. We have been linked with Martins for two seasons now, as far as Arsenal are concerned it is now or never for Obafemi.
Down the road Middlesbrough’s David Wheater has stated he will not ask for a transfer, but he will leave it up to the manager to decide his future. There will be a host of clubs looking at adding Wheater to their squad. He is a no nonsense defender, great in the air, a threat at set pieces and will develop into one of England’s great centre-halves. Wheater may be young at 22, but he will be a great defender to bring to the club, ticking all the boxes.
Wheater’s team-mate Stewart Downing would have been in demand this summer had he not been injured. Downing, subject to recovering, is a winger in the true mode. He has been much maligned in certain media quarters, perhaps because he does not have the trickery (and wastefulness) of Aaron Lennon, but he has accuracy in his crossing. Downing will be a player who could supply the crosses for Bendtner or Adebayor.
Wenger should not feel guilty about taking players from clubs that have been relegated, that is the way of football. At both Newcastle and Middlesbrough are three central defenders worthy of a look. The two English players will add and strengthen our defense.
Every club has a whipping boy and in the case of Arsenal it is Philippe Senderos. Whilst the Swiss international can perform admirably over a period of games, the fans know he is one mistake from becoming a permanent liability. He has constantly struggled against big centre forwards, and at the end of last season Wenger did not play Senderos, preferring to play Alexandre Song at the back.
Most fans will be doing a little jig of delight at the news that Newcastle have made a bid for Senderos at £4M. Reports say that Arsenal have not accepted the bid, but that they have not ruled out the sale of the Swiss defender either.
Some newspapers are turning the fact Arsenal are prepared to accept a bid of £6M, as a snub to Wenger, but what these small minded reporters do nto realsie is that Wenger governs everything at Arsenal to do with football. No player would be bought or sold unless Wenger gave his personal approval.
Senderos is not a first choice defender at Arsenal, and far from a fans’ favourite after a series of high-profile blunders, and Wenger knows he has Johan Djourou, Harvard Nordveit and Alexandre Song, all of whom Arsene rates highly, but there progress is being held back in having Senderos in the squad. Selling Senderos at this moment for £6M is good business for Arsenal.
The only reason Wenger would not sanction the move now is that Song will unavailable for the start of the season as he is off to Beijing for the Olympics and Toure may miss the start of the new season with malaria.
Wenger may use Newcastle’s interest in Senderos to talk to the Magpies about Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia,
both players have been talked about in Arsenal circles and this could be the ideal opportunity to make a move.