The Arsenal squad: what next in the transfer windowBy: Lachlan | July 27th, 2012
Given the fact that there has been a bit of a lull in the transfer market, well certainly from an Arsenal point of view at least, I thought I would take the time to go through our team. Have a look at the positions that I feel like we are strong in, those that we aren’t so strong in, and where and how we can strengthen the team.
I think we can all agree here that it wouldn’t be the best use of our resources to bring in a first team keeper. Wojo is performing quite well, and luckily for us isn’t making too many critical errors. I can only see him improving in future years, and I feel very confident with him between the sticks.
In my first blog, I wrote about Hugo Lloris. As I said then, I think he would be a great signing for us, and would improve our team straight away. I would love to have a player like Lloris. I just don’t think that would be the best way that we could spend our valuable money. Some of you may disagree with me, and I guess that is fair, especially seeing as Lloris would likely be able to play for the club for at least the next 10 years. However, I think we have a great future prospect currently and I think he has done more than enough to warrant a chance to develop as part of Arsenal’s first team.
There was a lot of talk about Mannone and Flaps moving on in this window to seek more playing time, but I’m yet to hear any news on that front, so I think there is no point tackling that until we come to it.
Currently we have Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Johan Djourou in our first squad. That of course doesn’t include Bartley or Miquel. I think we have more than enough depth in this position, and I can’t see any reason why we would need to bring anyone in. Every season for the past 3 seasons Arsene has brought in a centre-halve who has been a relative success (as well as some who haven’t), and I just can’t see how bringing in another would be worth it.
The only issue I can see here is that there has been a lot of talk of Djourou moving on to seek more first team opportunities. I’m personally not convinced that there is any substance to these rumours, as I’m sure that Djourou would have spent considerable time considering what he wants when he signed a new contract only a few months ago.
On that topic, I believe that all of our centre halves are currently on relatively long deals, so I can’t see us having any real issues here, or any surprise departures.
My main concern in this area is that Thomas Vermaelen looks like he will probably end wearing the armband this season. Once again, I’m sure many of you will disagree with me here, but that’s okay with me. I think Mertesacker is a better option than Vermaelen. Sure Vermaelen scored some very handy goals throughout the season, I will give him that. He also seems like a pretty cool guy who is a good leader for the young players, the sort Arsenal need some more of. But I feel as if Mertesacker has been the much better defender last season, and at worst, he should get the same sort of game time as Vermaelen. Making Vermaelen captain will make it very difficult for the manager to leave him out of the starting lineup in any given week, whether it be for rotational purposes or for form purposes.
Sadly, I just don’t know who else we can make the captain. The only other players I can imagine spending almost the whole season on the pitch are Song and Arteta, and I’m not convinced that either of them should be given the armband. I don’t have a solution either. I guess the bottom line is that there is nothing else to do other than to just have faith in the manager and trust that he will be able to make decisions that are for the greater good of the team
This is an area that I am a little more concerned about. I believe it was only 6 months ago that our season was in tatters while all 4 of our first choice full backs were out injured. Gibbs seems to spend more time injured than playing. Sagna has broken his liege twice now in a relatively short period, and obviously that has to raise questions about his future fitness. Santos suffered a bad injury last season, and even when he is fit he seems to mould himself more on Thierry Henry than Ashley Cole. And of course, we come to Carl Jenkinson, who we must remember is only a kid with a handful of Premier League starts.
I think this piece from the Bleacher Report sums up my thoughts on the matter pretty well. I think that right back is a position that we desperately need to strengthen. Obviously, it is a tough decision to make, as we have the best player in the league in this position already, so it would make little sense to bring in another top player. But I just can’t see how we can rely on Jenkinson for the start of this season. I still remember that nightmare game against United, and I am sure that he does quite vividly also.
I won’t try to pretend that I have a good idea of who we can bring in for this position. I believe that Debuchy has been pretty good and he seems to be on the move, but I reckon he is too good to be our backup and he would cost way more than it would be worth us spending.
I wasn’t sure whether I should tackle this in a more specific sense, but I decided to go broad.
At the moment, in the centre of the park we have a lot of players: Song, Coquelin, Frimpong, Ramsey, Arteta, Wilshere, Diaby and Rosicky. This doesn’t include players who haven’t really made their mark on the first team, like Yennaris, Henderson, Lansbury etc. So I guess in a way we have a lot of depth in this area. I guess one of the main issues we have in the midfield (assuming we maintain the three man midfield) is that currently we don’t have a true CDM, and once Rosicky picks up an injury (what’s that? He is injured now? SHOCK!) we also don’t seem to have a great option for the ‘Cesc’ (I hate calling it that, but we don’t seem to have a whole lot of choice) role.
At the moment, it seems as if Song plays in the defensive central midfield spot. However, I really feel like he isn’t a true defensive midfielder, but just our most defensive midfielder. Sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy. He is a great player who gets the assists from deep in midfield, and plays football the Arsenal way. However, I feel like too often he bombs forward, and our defence is left exposed; he doesn’t seem to track as well as you would hope a player of his position would. In the long run I feel like Frimpong or Coquelin should be able to fill this true defensive position, but in the mean time I think Alex Song is easily of enough quality.
The way I see it, Wilshere should be able to play in the more attacking position in the long term, but he is yet to come back from injury, so I just don’t see how we can really count on him for the moment to fill in up front. So other than Rosicky, who can play there? For a massive chunk of last season, Ramsey was playing there, and whilst I don’t think he did a bad job, it was not the best time for him to be playing there. He was asked to fill in the void left by team-captain and talisman, Cesc Fabregas, one of the best players in that position in the world, and that was always going to be very tough. I think Ramsey has a bright future, and as I have said a number of times before, I think he needs a season on loan at another Premier League club. Swansea would have been the perfect club. Maybe if we sent him across town to Fulham that would work out well also. Anyway, I think Ramsey needs a good run of games to build up some more confidence, and I just don’t think he will get that chance at Arsenal this season.
I guess my point is that we need a new creative midfielder. I think this is an area that we have the opportunity to really show that the club has some big aspirations. There are a few potential options really, and I’ll go through a few that I like the idea of bringing in. I’m not saying that we should definitely get one of these players, but simply listing a few examples of the sort of players that are available.
The young Ajax playmaker has often been touted as one of the best talents in Europe. At the tender age of 20, he has 26 senior starts for the Danish national team (I’m sure Bendtner will have told him many good things about our club) and has been a pivotal part of the Ajax team that has won the Eredivisie for the past two seasons (last season he contributed 7 goals and 19 assists in the league). He is very much the sort of player who can fill the void left by Cesc, and Martin Jol has compared him to past Ajax products Wesley Sneijder and Rafael Van Der Vaart. Obviously, given all of this, you would expect the kid to be very expensive, however, the fee that has been thrown around in the media so far is £20 million, which to me would be a steal for a player of his sort of quality.
I know that this suggestion will probably cop a bit of hate. He will be expensive. His wages will be massive. He is old. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t care. Madrid will be pretty keen to get rid of him I think, so I can’t imagine he can’t be that expensive. I also think he would be worth his wages. We are talking about a player who was World Player of the Year not too long ago, and in my opinion he is still just about that player, with a touch less pace. He could bring so much to our team, in terms of experience and as a leader. I can’t think of a player in world football who would be a nicer guy, and I’m sure he would be keen for a move. I think considering he would only sign a ~3 year contract, the high wages wouldn’t be too big an issue, and the risk could be worth it. This depends so much on the managers grand plan, and I don’t for a moment think that we will sign Kaka, but I’m just giving what I think is a great option that is very contrasting to Eriksen.
Also, when you consider that we currently pay Arshavin and Bendtner together the sort of wages that Kaka would demand, I think you might begin to understand where I am coming from. Some see this sort of move as a big risk, but I have also spent a lot of time arguing with people who are furious with our tendency to sign young prospects.
Now this one I have always thought the most likely to happen, and what do you know, it has popped up in the news in the past coupled of days. The player has been MIA in Madrid for the past year after signing for €10 million this time last year from Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund. I think anyone who has seen this guy play will know that he would fit in pretty well at Arsenal. I don’t think we can read too much into the fact that he has been warming the bench most of the season given the fact that he has to knock Alonso or Khedira off the field to get a go. The guy is only 23, and has his best years ahead of him. I think Madrid would be stupid to let him leave, but there is the possibility that they don’t have much choice, or they may want to loan him out for a season. Either option would be perfect for us I think. Ideally, it would be good to bring him in for a season long loan, with an option to buy (for maybe €10 million or so) as well maybe. I know he wouldn’t necessarily fill the attacking midfield void that we seem to have, but I think with Sahin sitting in a more holding role, Song, Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky, or whoever else, will get a lot more freedom in the midfield. Sahin is also currently being paid less than Arshavin, so I can’t see why he would not be a potential signing for us.
Now there would be many other potential options that we could pursue, but this is just to give an idea of who is about that might be available. These options are all available at a reasonable level of expense, and could all bring a great deal to our team.
This is an area in which one day I am confident, and the next, I am very concerned. Let’s assume RVP leaves before the start of the season for a moment, and while we are at it, Chamakh, Park, Bendtner and Arshavin will also leave.
That leaves us with Giroud, Podolski, Walcott, Gervinho, AOC, Miyaichi. I think that’s all of them. Not good enough. There has been a lot of talk of us playing a 4-4-2 this season, with even Wenger hinting at it recently. Lets say that we play Podolski and Giroud up front, and then Gervinho and Walcott on the wings. That gives us two raw, unproven talents as the subs for the whole lot. Rosicky could play on one of the wings (and it is likely that would be the case), but beyond that we are a bit short. I think we need another striker if we are to play 4-4-2.
If we play 4-3-3, on the other hand, I think we are much better equipped. I still think another striker could be helpful in that scenario, but I’m not holding my breath. 3 in one transfer window is more than we could possibly expect. I guess there is a chance that we directly replace Van Persie should he leave, but I have my doubts.
So in other words, I have a feeling that we will end up holding on to at least one of our wantaway strikers. Wenger may have a first choice (other than RVP of course) but I suspect that it will have a lot more to do with who we are able to sell. If it were up to me, I would want to keep Bendtner. I think the guy has a lot of talent and would make for a good squad player (other than his attitude of course), but I think he is the one that we will have the least difficulty moving on. My guess is that Park will be staying.
So the way I see it, we need to bring in another right back, a central midfielder, and possibly a forward as well. Sadly I don’t foresee any of these going ahead. Wenger has hinted at us bringing in another player this window, but it seems like the player in question will be a winger. I’m all for that happening, but I don’t think its the most important change that we could make.
Anyway I’m running short of time now, and you guys haven’t had a new piece for a while now, so I’ll finish up here. I’d love to get some feedback so I will leave you guys with some questions.
Who would be your first choice centre back pairing?
Which positions on the pitch are the weakest points of the team?
Which player(s) do you want to see us sign?
Until next time.