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Arteta and Benayoun Join as the Window Closes

Well the transfer window closed last night and unlike windows of the past, Arsenal were doing business all the way until it slammed shut.  Four players were confirmed last night as having signed, with Park announced the day before. It was clear from the start of the season that Wenger had to act to change our fortunes and only time will tell if Le Professor has bought correctly.

The first three signings, Park, Santos and Mertesacker were players that we should have secured before the season started.

A centre-back was a priority all summer, several names were linked and we made two bids for players, Jagielka and Cahill.  Everton wanted £18M for a 30 year old defender with little international experience, so Arsene moved his attention to Cahill.  An offer of £6M plus Bendtner was made, this was ridiculed by Bolton who wanted £17M for a player in the last year of his contract and with a handful of international caps.  Rightly so Wenger made a move for German international Mertesacker and secured a player who is one year older than Cahill, but has 75 caps for one of the top nations in world.  The fee £8.8M! The Neanderthals in the British media say he is too slow and we should have gone for Cahill or Jagielka or Dann.  Mertesacker was not bought to win the 100M at the forthcoming Olympics, he was bought to defend, to make challenges, win headers and tackles.  A player does not represent Germany 75 times if is he no good.  This was a great move by Wenger.  My only question is why could we not have bought him a month ago?

When Clichy left, no Arsenal fan shed a tear, we knew in Gibbs we had an adequate replacement, in fact Gibbs will go one to become a great left-back. However, we thought Wenger will buy Enrique, we needed cover and competition at left-back, but Arsene though Traore was capable to cover at left-back.  This was surprising as Traore had been converted into a left sided midfielder by Arsene. Wenger soon saw the light and on Sunday night news broke that were in talks with Brazil international Andre Santos.  We secured a strong, attacking full-back for £6.2M, this is good business, his record at Fenerbahce is one goal in five games.  Santos has again been slated by the blinkered British media as non-entity, who is he, if he was any good he should be playing La Liga or Serie A.  I believe Santos will be the player to bring the best out of Gibbs.  Another great purchase by Wenger but one that should have been concluded once Clchy left.

Search for a striker should have started in May when Wenger allowed Bendtner to leave.  It ended with the acquisition of South Korea captain Park Chu-Young for a fee around £2.6M from Monaco, though in the process we upset Lille!

Having sold Nasri and Fabregas, much to Wenger’s surprise, though everyone else knew it would happen, Wenger had to move in for a midfielder or two.   Rumours were abound with bids made for Hazard, Martin, M’Vila, enquiries for Vargas and Montolivio, but these were young players, big money was required and a bedding in period.  So Arsene looked closer to home, he turned to Chelsea and Everton.  Inquiries were made for Arteta and Benayoun and after some brinksmanship the players were brought in one on a four year deal and the other on loan (due to work permit complications). Arteta and Benayoun will bring experience, graft, inventiveness and goals to our midfield.  Both players will be good signings for Arsenal.

Interesting Arteta took a pay-cut to join Arsenal, what is that about, Arsenal are massive payers overall, but when it comes to our top players we are reluctant to offer big money.

Now that the window has closed and Wenger has his squad for the season, we can now focus on getting our season started and start to move up the table.  A good run of results could see challenging by December, but we need to keep players fit, stop picking up silly red cards and start to take our chances.

On the departure front, youngsters Joel Campbell and Henri Lansbury went out on loans, whilst Gilles Sunu joined Lorient on a permanent basis.  Niklas Bendtner was unable to find the “big” club to play for and has joined Sunderland on loan.  Bendtner will do well at Sunderland as he will be playing regularly as the main striker, this could work well for Arsenal as his value can only go up.  Worryingly for Arsenal fans is that Almunia is still at the club as is Squillaci.

Arsenal cannot stand still however, new contracts must be offered to van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen otherwise we will be in for a nightmare summer in 2012. Arsenal must re-evaluate their transfer policy and in particular the way we complete transfers, I am referring to the two that got away Ricardo Alvarez and Juan Mata. Arsenal also need to re-asses their wage structure, not every player in the squad is worth £50K -£60K a week, we need to reward some players with £100K plus a week contracts.

Park and Santos Signed – Mertesacker Too? Medicals for Hazard & Cahill?

The 8-2 defeat at the weekend has forced Wenger into the transfer market, rumours are flying around everywhere.

Two deals that are virtually done will Park Chu Young join Arsenal from AS Monaco.  Park is South Korea’s captain and a striker who does not have an impressive record in club football.   Park was due to join Lille when Wenger hi-jacked the deal, the fee has been reported as anything from £2.6M to £10M.  The second signing is Fenerbahce’s Brazilian left back Andre Santos for a reported £6.2M.  As always Arsenal have remained silent over both deals.

Everything else is wild speculation.

L’Equipe is announcing that Arsenal have signed Per Mertesacker.  The article reports that the players was signed last night.

Numerous reports have stated that Arsenal have made inquiries about three Chelsea players, Benayoun, Malouda and Alex.  Malouda is the player that Wenger should aim to buy from Chelsea.

The Arteta/ Bendtner swap is being rumoured on plenty of sites.  This will be a good buy for Arsenal, Arteta is a creative, combative midfielder, though prone to injury, so will be a perfect Arsenal player.

Speculation is rife that Cahill and Hazard are due for medicals today or tomorrow at Arsenal, I suppose if a rumour is repeated often enough, people will take it as being the truth.  Hazard will be a difficult  transfer to complete as we snapped Park from under the noses of Lille.  The deal may be sweetened if we allow Joel Campbell to go on loan to Lille.  The Cahill saga will drag on and unless Wenger buys alternatives, and L’Equipe claims we have, then Wenger will be castigated ifwe do not buy Cahill.

It is going to be a helter-skelter couple of days, but what Arsenal fans must be asking is why were these players not brought in before the season started?

Next 3 Days Will Define our Season

After yesterday’s debacle, it is time to take a step back and see where we are, how did we get he and what the future holds. There is no point in analysing yesterday’s match, it is certified XXX in the minds of all Arsenal fans.

We all knew it was not going to be an easy match but the roots of the result go back, probably two or three seasons ago. Namely in our continued transfer policy of selling top players and not replacing them or when we do bring players in we offer them a four year contract which means we either offer a new contract after one year or we are left on tenderhooks as to whether they will stay or not.

Four years ago we had Gilberto, Flamini and Diarra all competing to play alongside Fabregas, things looked promising, then we managed to lose all three players in the same season.  The replacement was a young Welsh midfielder, Ramsey who was not ready at the time for first team football.

The scenario was to continue the two season when we sold Adebayor and Toure for a combined fee of £40M, and we brought in Veramelen.

Last summer Arsenal were active, no players left but bough Koscielny, Squillaci and Chamakh joined on a free transfer.

This summer saw a summer exodus, though no Arsenal fans were surprised, the squad had gone stale, the same errors were happening, the same inability to compete for trophies were re-occuring.  Out went Eboue, Clichy, Denilson (loan), Vela (loan), Fabregas, Nasri, with Almunia, Bendtner and Squillaci all expected to follow.

This summer window was one I was looking forward to, because the noises coming out of Arsenal was that it would be an active window, Wenger “knew” what went wrong and was determined to put it right, the dead wood was going to be cleared and new faces were going to arrive.

All Arsenal fans expected Cesc to leave this summer, the only person in denial was Arsene Wenger, why?  When it also emerged that both Clichy and Nasri were not going to sign new contracts, the Arsenal board and Wenger should have planned for life without them straight away.  These three departures, were big players leaving Arsenal and we need to ask the question who was responsible for allowing Nasri and Clichy to reach the final year of their contracts?  Someone in the Arsenal hierarchy needs to answer some questions to ensure that we are not faced with the same situation next summer with van Persie and Walcott.

With so many players leaving what were Arsenal doing in the transfer market?  We secured Carl Jenkinsson, but was he an able replacement for Eboue, was he ready step into the first team so early?   Wenger insisted, when Clichy left, that Gibbs, Traore and Vermaelen were all capable of playing left-back.  Whilst Gibbs is an able left-back, his tendancy to get injured meant we needed a second left-back and Traore was not that player.  Jose Enrique was available for £6M from Newcastle, but Arsene dithered and Dalglish stepped in and we are now left scouring Ligue 1 for a replacement as we could be selling Traore!

Wenger knew we were short of strikers.  Bendtner is going to leave and Wenger has decided that Vela is not ready and probably will never be ready for Premier League football, this left us with van Persie whom we know will play 50% of the games at best and Chamakh who has disappeared as a striker.  So the club waits until the last moment to bring in a striker, expected to be Park the South Korea captain, not Benzema that all Arsenal fans wanted.  Once again we shopo at Lidl whilst others shop at Harrods!

Our search for midfielders has been a farce.  Ricardo Alvarez was to be our first signing, yet we lost out because of a £1.7M  difference in valuation, this is pathetic, Arsenal made around £5M from the Asia Tour.  Juan Mata a quality player was available for around £13M due to a clause in his contract that expired on 31 July, so the incompetence and dithering of Arsenal meant we made a bid for him on 1 August!  These two signings, plus Gervinho would have compensated for the loss of Nasri and probably allowed Arshavin and Rosicky to leave the club.

Our search for a centre back continues, with four candidate, Samba, Dann, Cahill and Jagielka all the prime candidates, but once again Arsenal are arguing over £3m-£4m.  We do not need one centre-half, but two and Samba or Dann should be bought in addition to Cahill.

Our summer transfer window has been a disaster, a non-starter.  Everyone knew we needed players, yet we dithered, we were incompetent.  We were faced with our hardest start to a season, a tough Champions League qualifier, yet as a club we were prepared to wait until the last minute to buy players. The end result has been the worse start, players suspended and injured and squad so decimated that our bench yesterday was made up entirely of kids.

The situation is not reversible.  We have three days to bring in not 3 players, but 5 players and we need to pay the money to ensure this happens.  If we bring in the right players, Wenger can turn things around, but he needs to buy.  Failure to bring in the right players, failure to bolster the squad and turn things around will result in the worse season in Arsenal’s EPL history.  We will fail to qualify for Europe next season, we will be humiliated in the Champions League, we will lose more vital players next season and Wenger will leave Arsenal and be remembered as the stubborn, intransigent manager who led Arsenal to their worse season in the EPL.

The next three days will define our season and our immediate future, the sake of the club Arsene spend the money to bring in the right players.

 

 

Another Inactive Week on the Transfer Front

Following Saturday’s performance, we were slightly buoyed yesterday to be linked with Arteta, Kaka and M’Vila.  Wenger has also gone on record that we are looking bringing in experience and we are looking at a couple of buys, this was however qualified with the usual, we are not near bringing in any players yet.

Today, Monday we read that Rennes are not looking at selling M’Vila, Mertesacker wants to see out his contract at Werder Bremen and it appears as if the Kaka story was all pie in the sky.  So where are we at the start of a vital week for Arsenal FC?

Arsenal fans all over the world are worried about this season and the general direction the team is heading towards, the displays so far this season have not been promising so unless there is a influx of 3-4 players the season looks doomed.

There will be no transfer activity, in terms of players coming in before Thursday.  The squad flies out to Italy tomorrow, so it will be amazing if we sign anybody today.  If we fail to qualify for the Champions League, then the board will probably tell Arsene that he will have a reduced transfer budget.  Failure to qualify will cost us £25M, the amount Chelsea are spending on Juan Mata a player who was due to sign for us at the end of July.

This means that our transfers, if any will happen after the Manchester United game. Wenger is playing a high risk game, wait until the transfer deadline and then try to tempt clubs like Everton, Bolton and Blackburn to sell their players.  If it comes off and Wenger gets good deals for players like Samba, Cahill and Arteta, then well done Arsene, but is saving £10M in the transfer market worth risking a Champions League place?

Arsene made an impassioned defence of his transfer activities over the last 15 years and to be fair his bad buys have been very few, but what is worrying the fans is the inactivity at the moment. We expected more than Gervinho and the noises coming out of Arsenal was that we were going to get some experienced players in this summer.

Arsene has said we have focused a lot of time negotiating the outs, but the transfer of Fabregas and Nasri were known to all of us in June, why did we not have the replacements lined up?

On the outbound trail, further stories today have Arshavin linked with a move away to either Juventus or Galatasaray.  The Russian will be a free agent next summer, so here we have another player that the club failed to secure his future.    Neither Arshavin nor Bendtner played in the first leg against Udinese and I doubt either will play on Wednesday.

Nasri is expected to finalise his deal within the next 24 hours, it appears that his agent is holding out for £3M from Manchester City for delivering Nasri to them, so there we have the reason why Nasri is leaving his agent wants £3 M.

Two other players who will probably leave by the end of the month, but there have been no takers are Almunia and Squillaci.  Wenger says that Squillaci is injured, but this the type of injury that kept Cesc from taking part in our pre-season and the type of injury that plagued Almunia all of last season.

As an aide memoire, here are the players that have gone or likely to leave this season:

Alminua, Eboue, Clichy, Squillaci, Fabregas, Denilson, Arshavin, Nasri and Bendtner.