As we approach the Emirates Cup and Wenger’s self -imposed timescale for transfers, there are favourable rumblings.
One of Spain’s leading sports newspapers Marca is quoted as saying that Arsenal are close to finalising a deal for the Valencia winger Juan Mata. The deal is being held up as Tottenham, surprise, have launched a late bid. The fee for Mata is expected to be at mot €20M as this is his release clause figure, but Marca is quoting €15M.
If we can get this sorted out before the weekend, then this will be a great boost for Arsenal fans.
Out of the blue Arsenal were yesterday linked with Anderlecht and Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia. The 25 year old has been described as a defensive midfielder. It is reported that Arsenal have been following him for some time. The player has indicated that it is time for him to move on. How much of this story is his agent trying to drum up interest for his client only time will tell. It is not uncommon for agents to use Arsenal to flush out potential suitors, on the other hand at €6M he is the kind of player Wenger will try to buy.
Arsenal are also reported to be increasing their bid for Jagielka to £14M. All Arsenal fans have been calling out for a new centre-back, but is Jagielka really the man for Arsenal. He will be 29 in August and is no taller than Vermaelen. Will Phil Jagielka really provide that aggression at set pieces? Chris Samba is 28 years old and 6ft 4” and is available for around £10M-£12M. We all know that Samba is a colossus in the box and not many balls will get past him. Blackburn are under financial constraints despite the sale of Phil Jones to Manchester United. They are away at the moment, but Wenger and Gazidis should make contact with Blackburn and try to secure a deal for around £10M.
The alternative is Gary Cahill, he ticks all the boxes, English, young (25 years old) and tall (6ft 2”). Again the stumbling block as always is his fee. Bolton want £17M, we value him at around £12M as he has one year left on his contract. Bolton are also a club in debt and Cahill is their last asset to bring in cash. Owen Coyle has been recruiting players whose wages will probably equal Cahill’s wages. Coyle likes the challenge of a young player to coach and develop. Look what he did for Wilshere and Sturridge, a cash plus Lansbury and Miguel on loan deal could still be on the cards.
The Fabregas deal should be resolved soon, thus giving Arsene the money to bring in two or three players at least, it would be nice if we bought the players before selling.
The young striker Wenger needs to turn his attention to is Ipswich Town’s Connor Wickham.
Arsenal fans got a couple of close-up looks at this player when we played Ipswich in the carling Cup, and even though he played on the wing supporting the lone striker he showed us he has everything needed to be a top class striker. Wickham has strength, speed, determination and importantly an eye for goal. He is 18 years old and 6ft 3”. Unlike our “world class” striker Bendtner, Wickham works all the time, never shirks a challenge and scores goals.
Arsenal are not the only club chasing this west country youngster, Harry Redknapp is always sniffing around Arsenal targets as is Kenny Dalglish. Wenger should open discussions with Ipswich Town, especially if as some reports claim, Ipswich will do business at around £12M, the same fee that we are asking for Bendtner. I know who I would prefer at the Emirates next season.
Wickham could easily play alongside van Persie, in an orthodox 4-4-2 or even play the lone striker, he is built for that sort of role. Wickham has played out on the wing for Ipswich using his strength and speed to cut inside and score or create goals and that is a role he can perform for Arsenal.
Arsenal are looking at selling both Carlos Vela and Niklas Bendtner, Connor Wickham would be the ideal signing to replace both players. All the is needed is for Wenger to make a decent bid and start the ball rolling.
The press and radio are having another field day with Arsenal, writing about our demise before a ball has been kicked. The rationale behind this theory is we haven’t spent any money so we will struggle to qualify for the Europa League, never mind the Champions League.
Well let’s look at this matter in detail.
If Clichy and Sagna can rediscover their form of two years ago, once more we will have a solid defence. Wenger has strengthened the defence with the signing of Vermaelen and if Toure leaves, then he will add one more defender.
In midfield the key is not the “holding” player, but Fabregas. If Fabregas starts to tick from day one, so will the rest of the team. In Denilson, Song and Diaby Wenger has three players who should compliment Fabregas, but is Cesc does not find form then we will suffer.
In the attacking third of the field we have the most attacking players and option available than any other club in the Premier League. Commentators ignore the return of Rosicky and Eduardo, they do not realise what these two players will bring to the team. In addition we will Arshavin for the whole season. This player is a winner and possesses the ability to unlock some of the packed defences we will encounter at the Emirates. Wenger has a wealth of riches to choose from in terms of attackers, van Persie, Eduardo, Bendtner, Vela, Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky and Wilshere.
Now let’s look at our rivals.
Liverpool have added Johnson, period. They could lose one if not both of Alonso and Maschareno this week and they are so reliant on the goals of Gerrard and Torres that they are two long term injuries away from Premier League mid-table football.
Manchester United have lost Tevez and Ronaldo and Fergie has been riled by Manchester City. He is worried be cause he realises that despite the goals that Owen has scored in friendlies they count for nothing once the season begins. Ronaldo scored 25 goals last season and countless assists, where are they going to come from this season? Fergie has his wings clipped in terms of spending money this season and does not like it.
Chelsea are as always stable and will one or two players. Their biggest problems are the age of the squad and Carlo Ancelotti. Ancelotti is Roman’s pick and the previous manager chosen by the boss failed, furthermore Ancelotti has won only one league trophy in all his years in Italy.
There are as always several pretenders. Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa and Manchester City.
Tottenham are stuck in a vicious circle of buying plenty of mediocre players, overpaying them and not able to sell them on.
Everton have no money and Moyes will cobble together a challenge for the Europa League, but Everton are traditional slow starters to their league campaign.
Aston Villa have lost a key midfielder and replaced him with an over-rated winger who has a broken leg. Their season went pear-shape the moment they bought Heskey.
Manchester City are the biggest challengers, but Hughes did not show last season that he can get a group of players to gel together. City at one stage flirted with relegation. It will take one or two bad results and the Cit bubbler will burst with the likes of Tevez and Adebayor complaining about spending too much time on the bench.
I do not believe or listen to the doom and gloom mongers. Wenger will strengthen the team but we are not far off challenging for the league, we need to find form early this season and start to score goals from all over the place then we will challenge and plent y of pundits will have to eat their own words.
Unnoticed by many Spurs announced plans for a new stadium on April fools day. The date chosen was appropriate for a club that wants to be taken seriously but every announcement about the stadium leaves everyone rolling around in laughter.
David Levy proudly announced to the world that they want a stadium with 58,000 seats (down from 60,000 that was announced in November), then came the piece de resistance, they will have a 150 room hotel and a public square. So the “Northumberland” development involves a hotel in Tottenham; Tottenham does not appear on any tourist maps as a must stay place, in fact even people in Tottenham do not wish to stay in Tottenham. How Levy thinks he is going to fill this hotel in a god forsaken place like Tottenham is a mystery to everyone. The final piece of the redevelopment is a “public square”! This is basically a paved area near the stadium, so there is little imagination there.
Finally Levy talked about financing; Spurs need £300 million, banks are reluctant to lend, yet Levy thinks he will raise the funds. When Arsenal went to the market, we struggled to find the money and this despite the fact that we had Highbury to develop into luxury flats in a sort after area of London. Spurs are located in a flea-infested region with zero redevelopment value for their ground, yet Levy thinks money will not be an issue.
This was certainly a great April Fool’s Joke missed by the media.