It’s Christmas*, so you know what that means… transfer speculation!By: Felegy | December 28th, 2011
* Due to a scheduling error, this piece will be published several days after Christmas.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Happy Kwanza, everyone! Joyous pagan ritual, everyone! To help us celebrate, here are all 20 goals Robin van Persie has scored this season:
On this lovely wet Christmas in Vancouver I find my mind wandering, as I think of times past and times future (that works grammatically, right?). The holidays for me aren’t really about Christmas, they’re more about spending time with family, friends and Bailey’s. And Arsenal, because in the UK the holidays mean extra football.
Speaking of times past, has everyone had a chance to read the two mid-season recaps? Great work by Darren and Homey there.
In the first, Darren goes over our season game by game, event by event. Encyclopedic.
And in the second, Homey argues with himself about what kind of season we’ve had so far, making compelling arguments for both a very positive and a very negative outlook. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
After the reminiscing comes the speculation about what’s to come. It’s a very seasonal thing to do, now that (here in the northern hemisphere, anyway) we’ve past the shortest day of the year and are looking to the future with some optimism and an eye to new growth. Or something. I threw that in for the pagans amongst us.
For us in the soccer world that means looking ahead to the January transfer window, which is always maddening.
Transfer speculation time!
Wenger may be shopping for a striker, and he’s looking for a fullback, though probably only on loan. We are dangerously reliant on Robin van Persie for goals from the front, with neither Chamakh nor Park contributing much of anything. And our fullback injuries are well-known, with all four of our first-teamers out until the new year at the earliest.
Here then, are some current rumours and ideas about what Wenger may do in January; the likelihood of each transfer is bolded and italicized. My money’s on someone we haven’t thought of.
Mario Götze, Eden Hazard, Gary Cahill – The three players that we were linked most strongly with in the summer haven’t gone anywhere yet, though Bolton just said that Chelsea have approached them. We don’t need another centre back, and we can’t afford either Götze or Hazard, so let’s forget about these three. Not going to happen.
Amazingly, we are being linked with a surprise loan move for Thierry Henry, who has been training at the Emirates. He would be a sentimental favourite, but has lost a step and hasn’t been playing at the level we need. And his return might unbalance the squad chemistry, something that is so important for us. I’ll give this one an unlikely, though Wenger could surprise us.
The same report says Wenger is considering a loan move for really out-of-favour left back Wayne Bridge. Bridge has been collecting £95k/week for City while featuring just once so far this season, in a Carling Cup game. His loan spell at West Ham last season was an utter failure, and he is in a fight with City manager Roberto Mancini about his lack of playing time/desire to play. I really, really hope Wenger is smart enough not to sign Bridge, but he’s made a few questionable defensive signings in the past. Still, nearly impossible.
Sidenote: I know it’s sexier to write transfer bullshit about strikers, but I have to say I’m surprised that Bridge is the only fullback we’ve been linked to.
Marco Reus is making big waves in the Bundesliga right now, has broken into the German team, and that means Bayern are going to buy him. And that big English clubs are linked to him, including us. He has a buy-out clause of £15m, which is affordable, and while his team (Borussia Monchengladbach) is doing well because of his stellar play, they just escaped relegation last season and he has to be looking elsewhere.
Reus is a young pacy winger/striker, with bags of talent and an eye for goal. And check out this nice assist. He’s got everything needed to succeed at Arsenal, and apparently Wenger has offered to buy. The price is certainly right, and he would add to our woeful second-string of attack. Perhaps slightly more likely than Podolski (see below). So just quite unlikely.
Lucas Podolski – Here’s a fun exercise: first, guess how old Podolski is, then think of when you first became aware of his play. It seems like he’s been around for a long time, and he’s still just 26, which I find so surprising. However, his big coming out party was World Cup 2006, even though he did feature once as a sub in Euro 2004. He was voted “Best Young Player” at WC2006, ahead of both Messi and Ronaldo.
Podolski is a prolific striker at times, but can blow hot and cold. He has been on fire this season, though, scoring 14 goals in 15 Bundesliga appearances for FC Köln. At times a poacher, he also has phenomenal power on his shot and can play off the wing with speed.
My sense is that he would like to play at a bigger club, having gone through a difficult and unsuccessful spell at Bayern Munich. Reports have him valued at £10-15m, an amount we could afford. And I think he would fit in well in our squad, as he’s quick, has a deft touch, and is comfortable playing up front or on the wing. However, this is his second spell at FC Köln, it’s his hometeam, and he loves playing there. I would say it’s highly unlikely that we sign him.
In some interesting news, apparently we’re looking at a pair of Brazilian youngsters: box-to-box midfielder Casemiro (£10m) and attacking mid Lucas Rodrigues (£21m). Both are young, talented mids who will likely make a move to Europe soon. 19-year-old Lucas, a full Brazil international, is a scoring midfielder who will be highly sought-after. Every major team in Europe has been linked with him, and the price is right, so I would rate the likelihood of a move as near certain. Wait, no, I mean not going to happen.
Casemiro, also 19, is a versatile, hard-tackling mid who can pass and pop up with the occasional goal, and has featured once with the senior Brazilian team. £10m is a lot closer to our price-range, but with Song, Coquelin and Frimpong in the team, I’m not sure why we would move for Casemiro, unless Wenger sees more potential in him and is looking for a better ball-mover. Song is world class, Coquelin is quite good, though Frimpong is erratic
and leaving for the African Cup of Nations. Signing Casemiro is far more likely than Lucas, but not really likely at all.
A more defensive player we’ve been linked to is Argentine and Anderlecht midfielder Lucas Biglia, though this sounds more like an agent trying to improve a pay packet than anything serious. Biglia showed some promise as a youngster, but hasn’t drawn much attention in recent years. At 25 he’s no longer a promising talent, though he seems to have matured later, and just broke into the Argentine national team this year. Same as above, though: we have three DMs and far more pressing needs. Not going to happen.
Randomly, we were recently linked with Brazilian wunderstriker Alexandre Pato (just Pato to his friends). Wenger is apparently ready to splash £23m for him, and he’s looking to leave Milan as he’s slipped down the pecking order, scoring just once and featuring in only eght of Milan’s Serie A games so far. Pato’s a world-class talent that any club would be stupid to let go. Of course, I could insert any number of players that have been sold into that sentence. Still, I can’t see Milan moving him, and if they do it wouldn’t be to Arsenal. I’ll rate this one ludicrously unlikely.
The Yoann Gourcuff to Arsenal rumours have started again, and again Wenger denies any interest. This move could have happened last year when Wenger was looking for a Cesc replacement, but Gourcuff’s star has fallen over the past two years following a move to Lyon from Bordeaux. He’s an amazing talent who really should do more. He seemed like the ideal replacement for Kaka at AC Milan, but for whatever reason (ego? attitude?) he wasn’t kept on. Not going to happen.
I can’t be bothered to read the original story, but someone says Wenger is thinking of signing Bobby Zamora. Because Arsenal are looking for 30-year-olds who can’t find time in Fulham’s first team… Fuck off.
Speaking of strikers who are struggling, we’re also in for Wigan sub-star Hugo Rodallega, which would be the equivalent of signing Christopher Samba. Yah, no.
And finally, in non-January transfer news, the chickens have come home to roost. Or something. I’m uncertain as to which platitude fits here, but here’s the situation: Cesc Fabregas, who you may remember as a former Arsenal midfielder, has said he would return to Arsenal if he ever left Barcelona. Because he has Arsenal DNA, maybe. Dear Cesc: a) fuck off; b) we’ve moved on, so should you; and c) we’d take you in a second.