Ignore All The False Rumours, Here Are Some Realistic Arsenal Signings!

It appears the sarcasm from my last post was lost on some people and with Arsenal “linked” to players like Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuain, Stevan Jovetic, Ashley Williams, Marouane Fellaini and even ex-captain Cesc Fabregas, I started to think about which players Arsenal should sign.

Most (if not all) of the above are all paper talk, putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5, because we all should know by now Arsene Wenger likes keeping his transfer dealings top secret. How many people knew we were going to bring in Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud well before they signed? Exactly. No-one can predict who will be arriving at Arsenal well in advance of it happening, it’s just not the Arsenal way.

The Wayne Rooney “transfer” makes me laugh as Arsene knows exactly how the media works and it is obviously a plot to divert attention away from who Arsenal are actually trying to sign.

Instead of linking the obvious targets to the new “free-spending” Arsenal, it would be better to identify what specific areas of the pitch need strengthening and who is best to fill that void.

So what are Arsenal’s weaknesses?

Central Defence

Last season, it is well-documented that we had the second best defensive record in the Premier League. Some of that was down to dropping the captain and keeping the combination of Mertesacker and Koscielny in the middle, and some of it was down to a greater team emphasis on better defending.

But apart from Mertesacker, Koscielny and Vermaelen, our centre-back options are limited. Most of the top teams have at least 4 quality defenders that can be called upon during the season. We struggled in the cup competitions so rotating the defense (effectively) is something worth looking at. Manchester United have Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Johnny Evans, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic who they can call on, Chelsea have Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz, Gary Cahill and John Terry and Manchester City have Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastatic, Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards. The key that the teams above us have is a selection of central defenders that can also play in other positions.

Smalling, Jones, Ivanovic, Luiz and Richards can either play as a full back or even midfield if required. A central defender that is versatile would be perfect for strengthening our squad.

Possible Candidates?

So who could fill that void?

With Gibbs and Monreal in the squad, the left-back position is well catered for (and considering Vermaelen can play there too) so a central defender that can also play right-back would be a fantastic addition to the squad.

The player would need to be young, relatively inexpensive and able to play in several positions.

So how about Dejan Lovren?

He’s only 23, was highly rated a few seasons ago and more importantly comes from the French League, almost a requirement for an Arsene Wenger signing. He currently players for Lyon and as well as being able to play in his main position of centre-back, he can also play as right or left back as required.

With Sagna looking more likely to leave Arsenal in the summer, a central defender that can play as right back would be useful, to give Carl Jenkinson some competition on the right.

A Ruthless Finisher

It is well reported that with the absence of Robin van Persie, the goals have been shared around the team, with Cazorla, Theo, Giroud and Podolski all into double figures for the season.

But in tight games (especially those with the Top 6 clubs) where we have struggled to score, a Van Persie would have been useful this season.

So who could be that signing?

If you look at realistic options, then we could be looking at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He plays for St-Etienne and is a tall, powerful striker who was the second top scorer in Ligue 1 last season. He’s only 23 years old and that would give us time to settle him into London life while he finds his feet – and this is fine as we aren’t looking to immediately replace Grioud or Podolski – Aubameyang could easily be used alongside them in a rotation system which would keep all of them happy, and give us the chance not to over-use Giroud like we did last season.

Most of the top teams have 3/4 strikers now and with another finisher it would at least give opposing teams something else to think about if Plan A isn’t working.

Midfield Cover

With Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere struggling with injuries in the last campaign, they unfortunately cannot be replied upon next season. We have Mikel Arteta (who at times badly needed resting last year) and Aaron Ramsey as our only real true midfielders. We have Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla who can both play a more deeper role if required but ideally they would be playing further up the pitch.

So who could be bring in?

With Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla already at Arsenal, it would be useful if we had someone from Spain in the middle of the park alongside them. So based on that theory, how about Benat Etxebarria?

He’s Spanish, a decent age (26 years old) and favours the defensive midfield position. The current Real Betis player has a superb range of passing, is skilful on the ball and has an eye for a good tackle.

Overall

So there you have it, some realistic transfer targets, based on Arsene’s previous transfer dealings ever since he came to Arsenal.

The big money buys like Rooney and Higuain are just not realistic. If you look at the vast majority of signings Arsene Wenger has ever made; Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Emmanuel Petit, Nwankwo Kanu, Alexander Hleb, Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud, et al, then you will realise he never goes for proven class. He likes to take talented players with potential and give them that extra push to be world class. Players like Henry, Vieira and Pires were all very good players when they arrived at Arsenal, but it was only with us where they became truly world class footballers.

And Dejan Lovren, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Benat Etxebarria are all realistic signings. They’re all around the same age, have experience in the French league or have Spanish connections, and wouldn’t be extortionate prices. Arsene may have a war chest at his disposal but he will never in a million years waste it all on one or two players. Ever since he joined Arsenal it’s all been about value for money. And the signings (on the face of it) wouldn’t be the kind where Arsenal fans would be jumping around for joy (hand on heart, how many Arsene signings have you really been excited about?) and it would only be later on when they showed their class for Arsenal when you would realise Arsene has made an inspired purchase.

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Koscielny / Denilson / Transfer Gossip

The main talking point at the moment is the reported quotes from one of our players of the season, Laurent Koscielny. Despite the fact he’s on record as saying he doesn’t want to go anywhere, and he loves it at Arsenal, people are still getting their knickers in a twist about the line where he says if he doesn’t win anything at Arsenal he “might” think about moving elsewhere.

And what is the problem with that? We all know reporters and journalists ask footballers leading questions so they can get their “story” and magical quote which will sell newspapers, but it is quite clear to me there’s no issue. Koscielny hasn’t said he wants to leave (in fact he’s stated he wants to stay) and outlined his ambition. And what is wrong with that?

No-one at Arsenal, and especially the players, should be settling for 4th spot in the Premier League, and our squad needs more winners. We’ve got some players who are hungry for success and it’s down to the manager and club to ensure we bring in players good enough to bring that success. We need to aim higher in our transfer dealings this summer and stop shopping in the bargain basement.

Which brings me nicely to the Wayne Rooney saga. We all know it’s not going to happen and this is just another perfect example of how journalists take a single quote out of context and make a completely fabricated story. Arsene said in an interview that he liked Wayne Rooney, and all of a sudden he’s coming to Arsenal? Come on, Arsene has on record said he likes Ronaldo, Messi and Falcao but it doesn’t mean they’re joining us!

On a more positive note, hopefully the departure of Denilson from the club (and more importantly our balance sheet) is a sign that Arsene is looking to offload the deadwood from the squad. We all know that players like Bendtner and Santos have no place at Arsenal and hopefully their futures are decided soon. We have the second highest wage bill in the Premier League (apparently) and with a lot of average players still on the books it’s not hard to see why.

And hopefully, that will free up some money to put towards the wages of players who will actually make a positive contribution to the club.

Wayne Rooney to Arsenal? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

Like the Higuain, Jovetic, Benteke and Fabregas rumours which have been around for weeks now, the Wayne Rooney one is another which is still doing the rounds.

As many people have already pointed out, his salary demands are a million miles away from our famed wage structure and more importantly, Wayne Rooney is past it.

He’s a disruptive influence and a player Arsene would not want to manage. As usual, the football agents are “feeding” stories to the media to help him wangle a move away from Old Trafford, using Arsenal to try and drum up interest from other clubs.

Unfortunately, it’s not working and teams like Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and PSG who would be the only ones able to afford him and his wages aren’t taking the bait.

His stock has fallen so low that he now has to be associated with a team like Arsenal, who are regularly fighting for the Top 4 instead of any major trophies.

Arsenal Transfer Targets Reviewed

With the season now officially over for Arsenal, we are apparently after quite a few players (as usual) and if you believe everything you read, then it would seem we’d be bringing in about 10 new players for next season. Here I analyse the “transfer targets” and the likelihood of them actually happening:

Gonzalo Higuain (Likelihood: 1/10)

If you would believe the reports, we are going for the Argentine striker for around £19 million.

There is no doubt he is an excellent player, but he’s never coming to Arsenal. People have seen that Arsenal have this “war chest” and have started linking us to various names and put two and two together to make five. We have Podolski and Giroud, as well as Theo Walcott as options up front and while we probably do need a real finisher at the club, it’s hard to see anyone coming in without getting rid of the deadwood like Chamakh and Bendtner from the squad. Plus his wages would be a big stumbling block.

Stevan Jovetic (Likelihood: 3/10)

Another striker that we’ve been linked to for a while now is Fiorentina’s Stevan Jevotic. And apparently we’re in “advanced talks” with the player, as the Italian side look for around £20 million for his signature.

This is slightly more likely than Higuain but not by much. Like Higuain, he is a player that is looking to play elsewhere and if he does move to Fiorentina then it’s likely to be to one of the top Italian sides rather than North London.

Ashley Williams (Likelihood: 3/10)

Apparently a deal has been done and we’re bringing in Ashley Williams for around £10 million. The apparent logic is that we need to strengthen our central defence as Thomas Vermaelen is supposedly going to leave this summer.

To be honest, I haven’t seen much of him at all but this is probably another player who wants to leave his club and the media have just speculated all of this up.

Christian Benteke (Likelihood: 4/10)

No doubt a talented player, and the right age for Arsene to be interested. At 22, he has the potential to be even better and joining from Aston Villa, his wage demands wouldn’t be too bad.

But as I’ve mentioned before, we have a lot of attackers at the club already and you feel Arsene is going to keep faith in Giroud and hope he builds on a decent first season.

Cesc Fabregas (Likelihood: 1/10)

There have been rumblings that Cesc is unhappy at Barcelona and the theory is he would want to return to Arsenal where he would have a regular starting place. But he’s just won La Liga and when interviewed, he has actually stated he loves it at Barcelona. Also, he isn’t the kind of personality to just give up and there’s the fact that Xavi and Iniesta are entering the twilight of their careers so he knows he’ll be the main man in midfield in the coming years.

Overall:

The fact is, Arsene and Arsenal like to keep all of their transfer business top secret. With the vast majority of players Arsene has signed, we haven’t heard anything until it’s been announced official on the Arsenal website.

Arsene knows that making interest public automatically inflates prices and encourages bids from other clubs, so it is in our interests to keep everything quiet.

So sit back and wait for Arsenal to officially announce any deals, if there is any!

Is Another Arsenal Captain About To Leave?

In the last 24 hours, Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has posted on Twitter for the first time since last September. The first tweet was to thank the Arsenal fans for their support this season, the second about important upcoming Belgium fixtures and the latest talking about posting a message on his Facebook page.

Is this another Robin van Persie announcement. We know how much footballers love to post messages on their official Facebook or Twitter accounts and along with the fact that Vermaelen hasn’t been playing much at all this season, you wonder if he is going to make another “announcement” like our previous captain did.

Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira… I don’t need to tell you that the captains armband is basically a signal that they’ll be leaving sooner or later.

Anyway, I’m currently working on my Season Review and Top 5 Players of the Season pieces which should be up tonight and tomorrow.