Every fan looks anxiously at the transfer window and starts to wonder who we will sign, when will we sign anyone and who is leaving the club. For Arsenal fans this is more relevant this summer. We know from the rumblings around the dressing room, the stands and even in the board-room, that a failure to win something this season will see top players leave next summer and Arsene’s future will definitely be brought into question.
Arsenal are always linked with numerous players, but in all honesty we are not too many players away from challenging for the major honours. Arsene’s problem is raising funds through sales and yet being able to strengthen the squad at the same time. Arshavin was purchased in January and he probably came out of this summer’s budget.
There is no doubt that Gallas and Toure will not be at the club together next season. One will definitely leave. My money is on Toure leaving to go to Manchester City for £14 million, unless Arsene will use Kolo’s presence to lure his brother to the club, in which case it will be Gallas going to PSG for £3 million or part of the Sakho deal. Wenger is already looking at selling Senderos for £6 million and Eboue could be bound for foreign shores for a fee of around £5 million. Arsene will also be look at moving either Denilson or Song. Either player would fetch in the region of £8 million, in addition I expect Mark Randall to move this summer. Arsene has seen Gibbs play well this season and this could be the incentive for the boss to sell Armand Traore, even to Spurs for a fee of around £6 million. The big one is Adebayor. Our favourite last summer, but the player we all want out following some lackadaisical displays. AC Milan are definitely a team that are interested or they were last season. I doubt Barcelona will be interested any more, so we again are limited in avenue to dispose of the Togolese striker, at any rate we need to be looking at £20 million for the player.
Arsene could raise any where from £28 million (excluding Adebayor and Toure) up to £59 million (including Adebayor and Toure but not Gallas). This will be a major transfer budget and would not necessarily weaken the squad. Wenger will be able to pursue four players that will make the difference.
Arsenal have reportedly agreed a £10 million deal with Thomas Vermaelen. Unless this is a great hoax, then the Belgium striker will be part of a new look Arsenal defence. To follow Vermaelen will be Fulham’s Brede Hangeland for a fee of £15 million. Brede claimed in the initial furore that he is happy at Fulham, but since then all has gone quiet, there is no talk of a bid or of a new contract for Hangeland. These two will form the basis of our central defensive partnership, with Djourou and Gallas / Toure to be used as back-up.
In central midfield, everyone’s favourite is Yaya Toure. A deal was almost done last summer, but the board scuppered the deal with a refusal to offer Yaya a decent salary. This could be the stumbling block this summer, plus if Arsene wishes to sell his brother, the offer will be less attractive to Yaya. If Wenger went for Yaya Toure this will set him back at least £16 million, an alternative and one that I am touting if nobody else is is Real Madrid’s Mahamadou Diarra and he could be available for £10 million.
With the departure of Adebayor, Wenger cold decide he has enough firepower with van Persie, Eduardo, Vela, Bendtner, Walcott and Arshavin. In reality we know that we need another striker. We have two options either Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or Edin Dzeko. Either will give us the goals that we desire and either will cost around £16 million.
With these movements in the market, Arsene will have strong squad for next season:
GK Almunia; Fabianski
Def Sagna; Song; Clichy; Gibbs; Toure; Djourou; Vermaelen; Hangeland;
Mid Fabregas; Diarra; Diaby; Wilshere; Ramsey; Arshavin; Nasri; Rosicky; Walcott
Att van Persie; Eduardo; Huntelaar; Bendtner; Vela
Transfer rumour mill is heating up with many players being linked to Arsenal, but our old favourite appears to be top of the list. Yaya Toure is being tipped as wanting to come to Arsenal and team up with his brother. Wenger is a fan of Yaya, we had home on trial several years ago, but due to work permit problems, we were unable to sign him.
Arsenal were rumoured to have made a bid for Yaya last summer, but there are mixed messages as to why he did not sing; Barcelona were prepared to sell him and that still seems to be the case. Barcelona have Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Keita all capable of playing in midfield.
Yaya has said he would love to play with Kolo, but it is not up to him.
If the Yaya Toure rumours are true and Wenger makes a bid for him in the region of £15 million, the board needs to back Wenger on this one. Yaya is the player who will make a big difference to our team. He is the midfielder that we have been looking for and been missing.
The only drawback will be both he and his brother will be missing for 6 weeks in 2010 for the African Nations Cup. No doubt if Yaya is available Manchester City and Chelsea will try and hijack any deal.
Yaya is one of the longest running stories for all Arsenal fans, this summer will be the conclusion of this story, either he joins now or he never will and the name Yaya Toure will no longer exhaust thousand of cyberspace words and speculation.
If we can sign Yaya Toure, Thomas Vermaelen and Edin Dzeko, these will be the three signings that will transform Arsenal. If Wenger and the board move fast, our transfers will be complete within two weeks.
The latest on Vermaelen is that there are negotiations going on, but Arsenal are not prepared to pay £10 million and are looking for a payment on performance basis, I hope this delay does not scupper the transfer.
It has been the consensus that Arsenal need to bolster their central midfield. This has been people’s thoughts ever since Vieira left.
Before we examine the possible options for next season, we must dismiss the myth that Vieira was a defensive midfielder. The term defensive midfielder has been coined by players who cannot run up and down the pitch, do not have the ability to dribble past players, and are not good enough to play as a centre back. Vieira was a box-to-box midfielder, he would break up attacks and run with the ball or spray the ball around the pitch, he was able to score goals, though he did not score enough goals.
We have seen this season how reliant we are upon Fabregas. We needed a midfielder this season to step up to the plate, but all too often, they have flattered to deceive.
In Diaby, we have a player who is capable of turning into a Vieira type player; we have seen glimpses of his ability this season. He is strong, fast, athletic, and skilful and has an eye for goal; he is one player who is not shy at shooting. His problems are twofold consistency and injuries. He will give us two good performances and the next will be a disaster. You always know with Diaby that he is one tackle or fall away from another injury.
If it is apparent to us, mere mortals surely Wenger knows we need to recruit a top central midfielder. Indeed last summer we chased several, Alonso, Toure, Inler, and Veloso were all mentioned and we had offers for four players turned down.
This summer the suspects will be the same, except I do not think we will pursue Xabi Alonso. Liverpool will be expecting the same fee as last year, yet he is nearing Arsenal’s retirement age.
Yaya Toure is a favourite name for all Arsenal fans, primarily because of his connection with Kolo, who has been his number one fan at Arsenal. Everyone knows that Yaya was on trial at Arsenal but we were unable to get a work permit for him, so that one got away. Yaya is having a good season at Barcelona, but Barca also have Keita who is a very accomplished central midfielder. Yaya will bring strength and drive to our midfield that is guaranteed, furthermore, his agent has been making noises that his client has not been offered a new contract. There were reports in the press, to be taken with a pinch of salt, that Arsenal had agreed an £8m fee for the Ivorian enforcer. Toure joining Arsenal would be a good move, but somewhere along the line, I do not see Yaya ever wearing an Arsenal shirt.
Gokhan Inler the Udinese and Switzerland midfielder was subject to much speculation in the summer, until he signed a new contract. Wenger talked of his admiration of the Swiss player in January, but stated we will not be pursuing the matter (in January). His agent last summer said that it might be a year too early to leave Udinese. Inler is a strong midfielder, who tackles and shields the ball well; he also has a good eye for goal.
On the eve of the transfer window Arsenal made serious enquiries about Sporting Lisbon’s Portuguese midfielder Miguel Veloso. The fee quoted by Sporting was £18m, which was out of Arsenal’s reach. Veloso suddenly became available in January, but we were pursuing Andrey Arshavin. Bolton were unable to agree a fee and he stayed with Sporting. Veloso will definitely become a target for many clubs in the summer. Veloso is a good central midfielder who has been a key member of the sporting team, he has also played in central defence, but I trust that this is not the main criteria that Wenger uses to select his man. Veloso is very good at taking free kicks, which will add variety to our free kicks. Veloso scores his fair share of goals from outside the area.
If I was to chose I would go for Veloso, he will add a lot more to our squad than the other players.
Whilst the players have been going through their paces in Austria, Arsene Wegner has been going through his book of possible midfielders to bring to the club. Having seen the paucity of players available to him, the Arsenal manager must be regretting allowing Lassana Diarra to leave in January.
Wenger would like to bring someone in before the Emirates Cup and has five players on his radar and has made tentative enquiries about three of them already this summer.
It has been well documented that Pat Rice spoke to Aston Villa assistant manager Steve Walford about Gareth Barry. Even though Liverpool were making all the running on this transfer, things have cooled down as it appears the Liverpool do not have any money to spend on players unless the sell players. Barry would be a good acquisition for Arsenal as he does not need any time to acclimatise to the Premier League. Arsenal will be able to pick him up for around £14M.
Arsenal have already had a bid turned down for Xabi Alonso, Liverpool are holding out for £16M, the exact sum that will price away Barry from Aston Villa. Alonso’s main exit route was Juventus, but they baulked at the price and went for Paulsen from Sevilla at £7M. Unless Atletico Madrid or Barcelona are prepared to stump up £16M, Liverpool will either have to lower their price to help finance a bid a for Barry or they will keep Alonso. Wenger will not wait around for Benitez to make a decision as we could be waiting till next summer!
A player that was rumoured to be on Arsenal’s radar earlier in the summer is Michael Johnson of Manchester City. The plus points of Johnson is he is young, English, has Premier League experience and will cost in the region of £12M. But is he the experienced player Wenger has spoken about? I doubt it and this is probably agent talk to try to flush out other potential purchasers.
Going abroad, there are two potential targets, Miguel Velosso of Sporting Lisbon has been touted by his agent all summer to anybody who would listen but to no avail. He is young, but Sporting are demanding £18M for a young player who is part of the Portugal squad but not a regular.
The other target is the younger brother of Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure. Wenger had a close
look at Yaya several seasons ago, but was unable to buy him as he would not have qualified for a work permit. Toure then went on an odyssey of football outposts before finally arriving at Barcelona last season. It is well known that Arsenal tried to get Yaya as part of the Hleb deal, but this did not materialise. Not to be deterred, Arsenal have spoken to Barcelona about completing the move for the younger Toure, but talks are at an early stage. Barcelona may be prepared to let Toure leave if they buy Velosso. Yaya has gone on record as to say that he would love to link up with his older brother Kolo. The arrival of Yaya Toure at the Emirates would be a solid signing.
One player who will not be coming to the Emirates is Andrei Arshavin. Zenit are demanding £22M, whilst he players wants £100,000 per week. Only Chelsea will not bat an eye-lid at such demands.