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?
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 worthÂ 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.
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.
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.
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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