Arsene Wenger: 7 days of spending?
For some, Arsenals transfer policy of late has frustrated. The purchase of Andrei Arshavin in 2008 for 15 million remains to this day a considerable club record. To others, the Gunners calculated and shrewd dealings have up to this point been both remarkable and respectable in their pursuit of becoming a financial power house.
In short, Arsenal have bucked the recent English trend of spend, spend, spend instead choosing to built an extremely promising platform from which they can only improve. The last 10 years have seen a net profit of 15 million on player transfers with outgoings hitting over £267 million. Quite astonishingly the last 5 years alone have seen the North London outfit making a profit of over £36 million thanks to many big name departures. This leaves them bottom of the spending table or top of the profit table, depending on which way you choose to look at it. To put this into context Liverpool lie fifth in the table, before this summer window they had spent a net £68 million, that’s a giant £104 million swing in comparison to London outfit. With this in mind you’d expect Liverpool to be the club finishing in the top four regularly yet it is Arsenal who have become part of the CL furniture in the last 15 years, progressing to the quarter finals and beyond 6 times since 2001. Yet all this has occurred during the transition stage of Arsenal’s history. The first game in July 2006 in the newly built Emirates Stadium signified a bright future for the Gunners. It showed Arsenal were thinking about prolonging the prosperity of the club and although the intervening 8 years have been trophy less the fact remains it is still a very well oiled machine.
Managing Director Keith Elderman pledged that the financial benefits of such a move to the Emirates would sustain their competitiveness within English football and across the world. ‘Our aim is to be a leading European club and once we get into the new stadium we will be in that position. It is very income generous.’ For me, like many others, it seems that as a club they are now approaching the deciding step in their future. They are now in a position to push on and having repaid debts they are a unique commodity among Europe’s elite clubs.
It is a shame that a younger generation of Arsenal fans have yet to feel the pride that comes with winning trophies and have instead had to put up with high ticket prices and some questionable performances. As the costliest place to watch football in Europe you expect to witness some of the games superstars and many can argue you do, but usually coming out of the away dressing room. What Arsene Wenger and Arsenal must do is preserve pride among the fans and assure them that the struggle is behind them. In other words he must spend wisely this week, and cast away his recent frugality.
So who should Wenger try and recruit in the remaining 7 days of the transfer window?
For a start what Arsene Wenger must not do is panic buy! The fact remains that this current squad have lost just once in their last 10 premier league games with their terrific form toward the back end of last season resulting in a top 4 four finish. Couple this with the relative failings of some previous last ditch buys such as Benayoun and Santos and its evident that this type of buying is not what’s required. I can’t help but feel Arsenal have shot themselves in the foot slightly with such a long delay in business having initially provided such promise to fans. If they hadn’t come out at the start of summer and announced their wealthy budget the fans would not now be begging for new faces with such high demand. It seems for every few steps taken forward another is taken back. The fans must now be rewarded for their patience, which must by now be wavering.
Help may arrive from the most unlikely of sources; rivals Tottenham Hotspurs. The imminent sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid may pave the way for some of El Blanco’s existing stars. Top of the list is French striker Karim Benzema and Argentine winger Angel Di Maria. These two are of course big names who will come with big price tags. It would take an estimated £30-£40 million to prize Benzema away from the Bernabeu with Di Maria slightly less, however a combined deal might prove cheaper, but certainly not cheap. The early season form of Olivier Giroud has proven his worth to the club but backup in the strike force is thin and lacking quality and therefore a striker of Benzema’s calibre would be welcome and would certainly galvanise both the squad and expectant fans. The problem though appears to be the man himself who it is claimed doesn’t want to leave the Spanish giants, especially not for Arsenal. Wenger though must try is up-most to secure his signature not only for the added class but also to boost morale around the ground.
Another target from the Spanish capital is Mesut Ozil, linked heavily with the red of Manchester a late move for him may prove pivotal in Arsenal’s upcoming campaign. A playmaker of the highest sorts, Ozil’s assists and creativity would suit Arsenal terrifically, fitting in among Cazorla, Wilshere and Walcott. I could see Ozil operating from the left and in essence replacing Lukas Podolski who too can be a top performer. This will strengthen the squad and provide further European experience. Ozil may want away from Madrid such is his high drive to play first team football prior to the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. If such a move may be seen as unrealistic other options include the highly coveted Eric Lamela from Roma and Ajax’s Christian Eriksen. Also in the mix is Iker Casillas as it seems is half the Madrid squad. He once again sat out their 1-0 win over Grenada fueling further speculation about his future in a game in which Ozil was substituted a subsequently stormed off down the tunnel. A goalkeeper may well be at the top of Wenger’s wish list also. Stats show that Arsenal have been ever increasing their goals against ratio each and every season. This is due to a combination of shaky defences and goalkeeping blunders. Casillas oozes experience and know how, something the current keepers do not. An addition of a top class keeper would go some way to increasing organisation at the back and may well help aid the growth of Wojciech Szczesny who I’m sure will develop into a class player between the sticks. Julio Cesar is still an option and he did impress at Qpr last term, a move for him would be sensible and could be done via loan.
A sensational bid from Arsenal for Casillas, Benzema and one of Di Maria or Ozil would be the stuff of dreams for the Arsenal fans and although unrealistic it may be worth a try. Using all the apparent money available to Wenger on three quality players could well be the solution, although I highly doubt it’s on the cards. One or two from Madrid would however go some way to improving the squad. Benzema and Ozil would be most preferable due to increasing unlikely transfers of both Suarez and Rooney.
For me the defence isn’t great and Sagna isn’t currently up to the standard required at right back however Wenger clearly favours him and his solid performances in the middle have reinforced their belief that another centre back isn’t required. Aided also by the imminent return of Thomas Vermaelan and the arrival of Flamini, Wenger is adamant he needs no new defenders. This is a shame because we all know they can be subject defensively. Having said that I do like Koscielny’s continued improvement and although he hasn’t quite starred as of late due to form and injuries Vermaelan is still a class act. Monreal shows great promise and with Gibbs there is good competition at Left Back. Don’t therefore expect any defensive recruitment.
The departure of Alex Song has left Wenger without a steely performer in the middle which was really telling last season. Abou Diaby simply can’t stay fit for more than a month so a player of real quality could be brought in to render this situation. It seems Flamini may be the answer for Arsenal but they may also look elsewhere to solve the problem area. Fernando of Porto is in a similar mould to fellow Brazilians Sandro, Paulinho and Fernandinho. If Wenger wants to match his rivals then Fernando fits the bill perfectly. Combative midfielders such as himself are often hard to acquire and unless Wenger can work some magic and retrieve Song than Fernando is as good as any. Mikel Essien of Chelsea could also be an option however he may find himself in slightly more favour under Jose Mourinho. Markel Susaeta, aided in his progression by the sale of Javi Martinez in 2012 is a player of real talent however it seems likely he is staying put at Athletico.
Cabaye would be a solid recruitment in a like for like replacement for the currently cropped Mikel Arteta, however Arsenal mustn’t get carried away with a hefty transfer fee. At just over £12 million it’s a yes but at £20 million no, simple as that. Arteta’s absence can be handled by Wilshere and Ramsey so for me it’s not that urgent because of their options. I understand the rising casualty list is an issue but that shouldn’t mean an alteration in beliefs as Cabaye could quickly become their most expensive acquisition, if Alan Pardew gets his way. Another man from Newcastle with real star qualities is Hatem Ben Arfa. Another with injury issues and his doubters it is unlikely Wenger would make a move for him but if he did I believe he would quickly prove his worth. A nightmare for defenders he could offer another outlook to the Arsenal attack that can become docile and predictable. One thing Ben Afra isn’t is predictable and he could just make the difference if given the chance. In a similar mould is Erik Lamela of Roma, a big transfer target of Spurs to replace Bale. It would really be some coup if reports are true suggesting Arsenal are interested. On one hand it would strengthen their own squad with a young exciting talent whilst also depleting Spurs and their challenge with Arsenal for that top four spot. Elsewhere Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkuson would be an expensive but quality acquisition, reports suggesting they rejected a bid from Arsenal of £19 million back in January, another attempt this week may not be thwarted at the right price.