Arsenal Transfer Rumors Intensify: Who Can Fill The Striking Void?
The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup has taken center stage with the world’s finest nations battling hard to attain supremacy in the prequel for the big tournament coming up next summer. From an Arsenal perspective, things are relatively quiet as we await the potential signings of Gonzalo Higuain, Chuck Norris, Bo Rai’ Cho from Mortal Kombat and Vybz Kartel.
However, today’s post is from Julie Sanders, a graduate in business and journalism that has a lot of writing skills in her Arsenal. It’s only befitting for her to write a guest post in the blog about…you know, Arsenal!
Although Arsenal yet again qualified for the Champions League, their status was not secured until the final game of the season with a one nil victory over Newcastle. A run of just one defeat in the final sixteen games was enough to secure fourth spot ahead of London rivals Tottenham Hotspurs, a position that was all but written off earlier in the season.
A lot was made about how the Gunners celebrated their final outcome in the table like they had won the league but judging from how bad things were (10th place after that disappointing defeat to Swansea in December), finishing fourth ahead of a Tottenham side flying high with the unstoppable Gareth Bale was a success.
Former Arsenal talisman, Robin van Persie, spearheaded the challenge of Manchester United to the Premier League title and despite the Gunners signing established internationals Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, the loss of Van Persie was a big factor in the performances last season.
Podolski and Giroud notched up eleven Premier League goals each but Van Persie won the Golden Boot with twenty six, four goals short of the Premier League goal tally he amassed in his final campaign with Arsenal. Theo Walcott was Arsenal’s leading scorer in the Premier League with fourteen goals but it was evident that greater success would have been achieved had one player stepped up with over twenty Premier League goals.
With Arsenal notoriously reticent in the transfer market compared to other big clubs it is always difficult to predict where the club will turn to in the search for goals but one name has been linked to the club recently in the form of AC Milan player Stephan El Shaarawy.
Although aged only twenty, El Shaarawy has completed an excellent season in Italy scoring nineteen goals in all competitions and since January, he formed an excellent partnership with former Premier League star, Mario Balotelli. He is also a full Italian international having represented his country at junior and Under-21 levels, and scored his first international goal against France in November 2012.
Arsene Wenger is desperate to replace the goals of Van Persie and may be tempted to invest the 30 million pounds plus needed to prize El Shaarawy away from the San Siro. The signing would impress the Board of Directors as El Shaarawy already has some lucrative sponsorship deals and is considered to be a bankable star.
The fans are also keen for the club to shed the tag of cautious investors and yearn for the days when the board splash the cash on a young starlet as they did in 1999 when they signed Thierry Henry for eleven million pounds.
Even if it seemed like a gamble signing Henry from Juventus, it became a move worth its weight in gold as the Frenchman went on to have a glittering career with the Gunners, smashing goalscoring records on the go and even ended up being immortalized with an elegant bronze statue.
Arsenal have also been linked with Gonzalo Higuain and top clubs in Europe are aware that Arsenal has a very large transfer kitty, which ultimately means that Higuain is within Arsenal’s reach, as Ivan Gazidis’ Q and A session with the fans proved so.
Any top striker who is not a regular starter for their club such as Higuain will be odds on to seek a move elsewhere and the Argentine is no different as he publicly declared that he wants to leave Real Madrid. In previous seasons, Arsene Wenger may have chosen to wait and see whether any of the players that hit double figures last term were able to develop and hit the magical 20-goal mark in the coming season. He clearly feels that Higuain is worth the punt.
With Arsenal failing to secure any silverware in the last eight years, the pressure on Wenger will be intense in what could be his final season with club (except he signs a contract extension) as the race to be in the top four was so tight during the last campaign and competition is likely to be high once again.
While the Gunners are still waiting on signing a player, Manchester City has already thrown the gauntlet splashing out an excess of 45 million pounds for Jesus Navas and Fernandinho.
The club have announced a number of preseason games that will allow any new signings to fit into the squad once they return to the club after the summer break.
Traditionally, players return to training on July 1st and the squad will embark on a tour of the Far East which commences on July 14th with games in Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan. The intensity will be greater in August with games scheduled against Galatasaray, Napoli (both in the Emirates Cup) and Manchester City. These ties will provide tests for the side ahead of the forthcoming domestic and European campaigns.
With Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal participating in this summer’s Confederations Cup, they could be given some time off to recharge their batteries ahead of the new campaign. In his short stint with the club last season, Monreal’s blended into life in London and provided stiff competition for the incumbent left back, Kieran Gibbs. Santi Cazorla on the other hand has become indispensable to the club after an amazing first season in England’s top flight.
When the squad return to preseason training at their London Colney base Arsene Wenger will be keen to assess the fitness of his squad, particularly key players who have been prone to injury in prior seasons such as talismanic midfielder Jack Wilshere. In recent times, injuries have plagued Arsenal with Abou Diaby being the latest victim after rupturing his cruciate ligament in his knee, sidelining him for a lenghty layoff.
It is a difficult balance for any Premier League manager to achieve the right levels of fitness in the squad. Sunderland manager, Paulo Di Canio, complained at the low fitness levels of the players he inherited when he took over at the Stadium of Light and has vowed to give his players a tough preseason workout to improve fitness levels.
With players running around ten kilometres during a typical game, endurance training is essential but the fast pace of the modern game means players must also do strength training. It is essential that players learn how to get big arms and legs because strength is such a key attribute for a Premier League footballer.
Van Persie’s game developed immensely when he gained in strength and was able to hold off defenders successfully whilst at the back strength is a key attribute of top players such as Per Mertesacker.
Despite the names being linked with the club it always remains possible that new signings may be a surprise for all watching Arsenal. Sometimes deals are concluded without the aid of weeks of courting through the media and Arsene Wenger is unlikely to want the asking price for any player to be inflated by an early expression of interest.
Despite the fact that Arsenal is renowned for taking a conservative approach when making signings, the past has shown us that the club can act swiftly when the need arises.
With Kieran Gibbs suffering an injury close to transfer deadline day, Arsenal wasted no time in delving into the transfer market to swoop for Nacho Monreal, as Arsene Wenger had clearly lost all faith in Andre Santos’ abilities, which was proven when he allowed him to go back to Brazil on loan.
Shortly after the 8-2 mauling from Manchester United, Arsenal astonishingly signed five players on transfer deadly day. Two blended into the team and have become indispensable, one had a somewhat satisfying loan spell and the remaining two have plummeted into mediocrity.
That’s the transfer window for you – some work out fine, others don’t.
With Liverpool making the early running in terms of preseason signings along with big spenders Manchester City, fans will be keen for the club’s board to match that ambition but will be confident that Wenger can source the best talent European football has to offer whist developing young players already at the club such as Alex Oxade-Chamberlain.
A trophy is on the wish list for next season in any competition but the board will once again be hoping for a season that brings rewards in the form of another Champions League qualifying campaign.
Stephan El Shaarawy would be a welcome addition to the squad but further signings will be required to consolidate the position of the club and build for the future. Signing Gonzalo Higuain and/or Stevan Jovetic will be a major plus for the Gunners but at the moment, we have to make do with what we have.
The hunky French legionnaire called Olivier Giroud.
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