Monthly Archives: June 2023

Gearing Up for Some Timber and Caliber

Man Utd-linked Timber not sure about giving up Champions League football &  regular minutes at Ajax for Old Trafford transfer |

Following the confirmation of the Kai Havertz deal and the breakthrough regarding the Declan Rice transfer saga, Arsenal is gearing to sign Jurrien Timber from AFC Ajax after it was disclosed that a fee of €47m has been agreed between parties. Timber is a 22-year-old Dutch defender that was an ever-present in the EreDivisie last season, starting all 34 games in the Dutch First Division, as well as featuring consistently in the Dutch KNVB Cup and Europe, starting all six Group Stage matches in the Champions League, and two games in the Europa League playoff defeat to Union Berlin.

In addition to playing as a right-sided center back and a right fullback, Timber inverts into central midfield like Oleksandr Zinchenko, adding a different dimension to Ajax’s attack. Last season, the wheels went off the rails in Arsenal’s Premier League title campaign when William Saliba suffered that back injury against Fulham that was aggravated in the defeat to Sporting CP. To add insult to injury, Arsenal lost Takehiro Tomiyasu on the same night, leaving the Gunners desperately bare at the back.

Rob Holding came to hold the fort, and unlike Hodor in Game of Thrones, he couldn’t hold the defensive door, as Arsenal shipped in goals with recklessly abandon in the games against Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham, before Manchester City decimated the team to put the nail in the title challenging coffin. Jakub Kiwior came on in Holding’s stead and did okay, but towards the end of the season, Arteta played Ben White alongside Gabriel, while trying to invert Partey from right fullback, which in all honesty, didn’t work out too well.

If Arteta had a Timber for instance, following the injury to Saliba, he could have easily slot in alongside Gabriel in the heart of the defense, or slotted in at right back to allow White pair up with Gabriel. This versatility is what Arteta needs as we fight in four competitions in the forthcoming season. Having Timber in the side will also provide some healthy competition for White and Saliba, which can only bode well for the team. 

Timber’s acquisition further reduces Rob Holding’s chances of featuring in the team, and we have to also remember that we have Auston Trusty returning to the team following his successful spell with Birmingham City. We also have to take into consideration Tomiyasu’s injury record since his arrival from Bologna two seasons ago. In as much as we like Tomiyasu, his injury concerns have to make us ensure we have adequate depth to ease his continued absences.

Let’s see how this pans out but you have to laud Edu Gaspar and his team for their decisive transfer negotiations this summer. 


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Pros and Cons of Signing Kai Havertz

Arsenal cannot fulfil Kai Havertz request amid Chelsea transfer talks after  £55m rejection - Tom Canton -

Kai Havertz has joined Arsenal on a long-term contract, following in the footsteps of the likes of William Gallas, Petr Cech, David Luiz, Willian, Lassana Diarra and Yossi Benayoun that moved to North London from the Blues of West London. Arsenal had a keen interest in Havertz, and as expected, the likes of Edu Gaspar and Mikel Arteta are delighted on getting their first signing of the season. 

Edu said, 

“We’re excited to bring Kai to the club and great work by everyone to get this deal complete. Kai is an exciting addition to our squad, who will bring great attacking quality and versatility. 

“As an experienced 24-year-old, his signing represents another important step in strengthening our young core of talented players we have at Arsenal. We look forward to working with Kai.”

Arteta on the other hand was very excited of his latest addition, 

“Kai is a player of top quality. He has great versatility and is an intelligent player. He will bring a huge amount of extra strength to our midfield and variety to our play.

“We welcome Kai and his family to Arsenal Football Club and we are all excited to start working with him when we start pre-season training soon.”

Without further ado, here are the pros and cons of signing Kai Havertz.

The Pros

Versatility – The Arteta Watchword

Kai Havertz is a player renowned for featuring in several positions from his Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea days, deployed as a second supporting striker, attacking midfielder, right winger and center forward. With Romelu Lukaku shipped out to Inter Milan and Armando Broja, first away on loan to Southampton and not really earning the trust of his manager on his return to Stamford Bridge, Havertz was tasked with leading the line for a considerable chunk of his Chelsea career.

This essentially means that he provides cover in multiple positions at Arsenal should the need arise, or based on the manager’s tactical switches on the pitch.

Replacement for Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka served the club for seven great years and it seems that he’s on his way out with a move to Bayer Leverkusen touted. He should have been out the exit door a while ago, but it is understood that he had an agreement with Arsenal to secure his replacement before he departs.

Havertz has been earmarked to replace Xhaka in the famous ‘left 8’ position and with Oleksandr Zinchenko making his usual forays to central midfield, the German schemer can duplicate what Xhaka did last season, drifting into the box to support the attack and add further impetus to Arsenal’s attacking play in the final third.

Fits the Current Age Profile of the Team

With the exception of Jorginho, Mo Elneny, Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka, the current crop of players in the club are in their early and mid-20s, which gives them the opportunity to gel with each other and grow as a team, as Arteta continues to lead the charge of this exciting project at the Emirates.

Havertz just turned 24 in June and he clearly fits the age profile of the team, giving him a chance to blend well with his new teammates and fit perfectly to the cause. With an average age of 24, Arsenal almost entered the record books last season for being the youngest ever team to win the Premier League but fell short due to the prowess, quality and experience of the Manchester City juggernaut. Mikel Arteta and his charges will be expecting to compete once again in the forthcoming campaign.

Premier League Experience

Havertz is battle-tested in the Premier League, after spending three years at Stamford Bridge, notching up 139 appearances. With this knowledge, Arsenal is signing a player that already has experience in the competition, and will require little or no adaptation period, which can be very helpful for new signings in this division.

Outstanding Injury Record

Havertz was an ever-present for Chelsea in his three years at the club, with his only recognizable absence in the club being a bout of COVID-19 that he suffered in November 2010. In the course of three years in Stamford Bridge, he notched up close to 50 appearances per season, which will give Arsenal some comfort, regarding his injury history.

The Cons

His Form

Havertz form in his time at Chelsea was a far cry from the outstanding performances in Bayer Leverkusen that allowed the London outfit part with £72 million to acquire his services. In his last two seasons in Bayer Leverkusen, Havertz scored 37 goals in 87 appearances, and was touted for great things following his move to Chelsea, but his form in Chelsea didn’t light any fireworks, and that should be a legitimate concern for those associated with Arsenal.

His Underwhelming Performances at Chelsea

When Havertz featured consistently in attacking midfield or just behind the center forward at Leverkusen, he was a very influential player for the club and his performances on the pitch were very good. Looking at his WhoScored profile, his average WhoScored rating in his last three seasons in the Bundesliga were 7.00, 7.24 and 7.25, while his WhoScored rating in the three campaigns at Chelsea were 6.60, 6.85 and 6.75.

Arteta and Arsenal will be aiming to improve his performances and the onus will be on Havertz to work on hoping to improving his game. 

We are looking forward to having Havertz at the club and hope he has a wonderful time at the Emirates.


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How Badly Do You Want Your Rice? £105m?

Edu faces easy Thomas Partey decision after £13m blow amid Arsenal's Declan  Rice transfer plan - Kieran Horn -

£105 million for Declan Rice.

Arsenal’s last offer was worth £90 million, spreading £75 million over four payments and the remaining £15 million based on performance add-ons, but this failed to match West Ham’s valuation for Rice which, if we are to believe the tabloids, is £100 million. The latest offer, as reported by the Athletic’s Ornacle, is that Arsenal is paying £100 million upfront, and £5 million based on performance add-ons.

This is unprecedented. This is massive! Arsenal is about to make Declan Rice the most expensive transfer in British history.

Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar identified Rice as the prime transfer target this summer and wasted no time in reaching out to West Ham for his services, following the conclusion of the Europa Conference League and the start of the summer transfer window. The gaffer saw Rice as the ideal replacement in the crater-like leadership void that Granit Xhaka was going to create with his imminent departure to Bayer Leverkusen. Rice is also adept playing as a No. 8 alongside Thomas Partey, or as a No. 6, should he take Partey’s place in the team to play alongside Kai Havertz. In a worst case scenario or injury crisis, he can also play as a center back, which will make him invaluable and indispensable to the first team.

For a transfer of this magnitude, especially with £100 million paid upfront, I will expect Arsenal to try to balance their books with some sales, and while we have some deadwood to clear out like Nicolas Pepe, Cedric Soares and maybe Rob Holding and Albert Sambi Lokonga, Arsenal will be looking to get top dollar from the likes of Folarin Balogun, who fancies a move out of the Emirates Stadium and maybe Thomas Partey, with the Saudi Arabia vultures swarming around him

It is also believed that the deal for Kai Havertz is already sorted, with the German maestro having his medical early this week, as well as a potential move on the cards for Ajax’s Jurrien Timber and Caliber, this would essentially mean that Arsenal would have splurged £200m on three players. These are all world class additions to the squad and with the Gunner competing in four tournaments – Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup (you can even add the Community Shield against Manchester City to the mix), Arteta will need the support of the entire squad to push through the season.

On one side, Arsenal has made an incredible bid of £105 million for Declan Rice. On the other side is West Ham, receiving this offer and forced with a decision to make. Accept the offer and allow Rice to discuss personal terms with Arsenal (which I believe must have been agreed since), pass his medicals and send the Arsenal universe to delirium. Or stall the offer, and wait for Manchester City to match the bid and continue the saga. Or reject the offer entirely, leaving Arsenal no choice but to end this Rice pursuit and face other potential targets, like Romeo Lavia of Southampton. 

The Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg, yes, the guy who told us that Rice favors a move to Arsenal over Manchester City, tweeted that West Ham neither accepted or rejected the offer, which adds more fuel to the fire that is the Declan Rice transfer saga. There’s only so much they can actually hold out, but Arsenal, Declan Rice and the rest of the football world awaits West Ham’s decision after the Mother of all Offers for their prized asset. 

Let’s hope common sense prevails.


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