Category Archives: Transfer Gossip

Coquelin to Join Valencia and the Gunners Step Up Chase for Jonny Evans

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For a moment, I forgot that we were in the winter transfer window.

You know, when your team is playing so badly in games and struggling like we are, you can only shift your focus to the next available game with the hope for a much improved performance from the previous show. Arsenal’s cause isn’t helped with the fact that we go to Stamford Bridge next, a ground where we haven’t had much joy in recent seasons. We did earn a creditable draw and might have even had all three points if Alexandre Lacazette remember where the goal actually was Aaron Ramsey’s shot clipped the post and fell kindly to him. More on the Chelsea game tomorrow.

My focus for today would be on Francis Coquelin, a player that signed a long term deal with us but lost his place in the term due to Granit Xhaka’s emergence in the squad. I can still remember his breakthrough performances on his return from his loan spell at Charlton. This swashbuckling tackling and passionate style of play endeared him to the hearts of the fans but deep down we saw him as a stop gap option in defensive midfield, rather than a long term plan. The club thought otherwise, or so we thought, when they offered him a new deal last season, alongisde Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud.

This season, the Coq has found games hard to come by, as he had to stick to substitute appearances in the Premier League with the only start coming at the Etihad where he played in central defense. However, he featured consistently in the Carabao Cup and Europa League. I expected him in midfield on Sunday against Nottingham Forest and I certainly raised an eyebrow when he wasn’t on the bench as well but with the Mirror reporting that Valencia Mestalla has made a 12m bid for him, it made some form of sense. However, I remain a bit confused – if Coquelin wasn’t part of Wenger’s plans, why did he offer him a long term deal? For a player that has such a new contract, isn’t 12m too small? Well, he was one of the guys considered as deadwood but will his departure give the manager the opportunity to properly invest in central midfield? Aaron Ramsey is a regular name on the first team sheet but his fitness remains a problem as he’s currently nursing a hamstring injury. Xhaka looks out of sorts and can do with a breather. Mo Elneny is such an average footballer and can offer us nothing beyond moving his dreads from side to side. Or does the manager have plans to play Ainsley Maitland-Niles in his natural position, allowing Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal to do their jobs?

Either ways, it seems like its the end of the road for Coquelin. 10 seasons, 159 games and three trophies with the Gunners, he served to the best of his abilities and never grumbled over lack of consistent playtime. Just like Kieran Gibbs, he needs a new challenge and La Liga would be an interesting proposition for the French midfielder.

On the other end of the pendulum, the Sun has reported that Arsenal have stepped up their chase for West Brom’s Jonny Evans and are also planning to use Matt Debuchy as makeweight to seal the deal. It’s also believed that Manchester City are interested in the Northern Irish defender as a replacement for the ever-injured Vincent Kompany. I know the Gunners recently bought Kostantinos Mavropanos but that’s a lad for the future. The current state of the Gunners defense is in shambles, and the performance against Nottingham Forest proved how bad things have become at the club. Per Mertesacker is past his prime and is probably day dreaming of his academy job at the end of the season, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are in their 30s and are struggling with injuries, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are still very raw, leaving us with just Shkodran Mustafi as the reliable defender.

Adding a player like Evans wouldn’t be a bad option – he’s 30, very experienced in the Premier League, has won major trophies with Manchester United and can stake a claim for a place in the side, and of course provide some much needed depth as our players tend to drop like flies every season.

More on these players in the coming days.


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Latest Transfer Gossip: Mesut Ozil to Manchester United?

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This has been quite an interesting campaign for Mesut Ozil. Like Alexis Sanchez, he has refused to sign a new contract with the club, even though the manager, Arsene Wenger, remains hopeful that he would remain at the club. The German maestro has really struggled with fitness and form this season, and was on the end of some vitriol and abuse last weekend following his glaring miss against Watford, which sadly led to an equalizer on the other end of the field.

When Ozil signed a five-year deal in 2013, many were hopeful that he would remain in the club for years to come as Arsene Wenger did his bit to build the team around him. Prior to his arrival, the Spanish diminutive magician, Santi Cazorla, played the #10 position in the 2012/13 season, scoring 12 goals and providing 12 assists to his teammates, including that four-assist masterclass against Wigan Athletic. With Mikel Arteta taking the holding role following Alex Song’s departure and the emergence of Aaron Ramsey in the box-to-box role, Cazorla was shoved to the wings to accommodate Ozil and his football somewhat waned. It was when Arteta left and he moved to central midfield alongside Francis Coquelin that we saw the best of Cazorla, but Ozil remained in his #10 position.

Arsene Wenger’s switch to 3-4-2-1 has seen Ozil play behind the main striker with Alexis Sanchez but he drifts to the right wing and hasn’t been at his best. He has actually been in and out of the team and for some reason, the manager hasn’t been playing him, claiming he’s ‘injured’, but I was surprised to see Ozil playing some qualifiers for Germany when he was meant to be in a treatment table at London Colney.

The latest transfer gossip dominating the back pages is the report from the Mirror stating that Ozil has informed his teammates in training that he’s planning to join Manchester United. You know you don’t have to necessarily believe any thing you see with these media vultures, but what if it’s actually true? I remember when news surfaced that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain told the manager to his face that he wanted to leave. Many thought it was just some rumor and when we saw the Ox in the early season games we thought everything was all well and good. Then he rejected a massive 180,000 quid-per-week contract and the rumors of his departure took center stage and we know how that has panned out.

Wenger would have to handle this situation with wisdom and it can cause friction in the team. If Ozil’s mind is made up and he really wants to leave, it will certainly affect his performances on the pitch. We have Jack Wilshere itching to make up for lost time and maybe it’s time to give him the football he wants, provided he remains fit. Alex Iwobi is another player on the fringes that’s trying to stake a claim for a permanent shirt and with Ozil’s situation hovering around, he can do his own bit to impress his manager.


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In the End, Money Prevailed Over Football

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Following what was one of the most disastrous campaigns last season that ended with a silver lining in winning the FA Cup, one most have thought that Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis and Stan Kroenke would have braced themselves for a busy summer, getting the quality required to improve and sorting the niggling issues that required attention, like the contract situation of some of the squad’s key personnel.

The transfer window saw a whopping £1.3 billion spent among the 20 Premier League teams and with three games gone already, the table has started taking shape with the Gunners struggling in a lowly 16th place. As early as June 6, 2017, the Gunners announced the signing of Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer from Schalke 04, with the Bosnian defender winning a place in the Bundesliga XI for being the best leftback in the competition.

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With Roberto Di Matteo playing a three-man defense, Kolasinac flourished in the left wing back role, scoring three goals and creating five assists for his teammates. With Nacho Monreal aging and Kieran Gibbs badly regressing, he ticked all the boxes for a long term move, and the fans lauded the boss for a smart summer move.

But it wasn’t enough. There were other positions on the team that needed to be beefed up and the club still had to sort out the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Yaya Sanogo and a host of others.

Three days after Kolasinac arrived, the club waved its goodbyes to one Reserve forward, the great Yaya Sanogo (Toulouse) and three Reserve defenders, Stefan O’ Connor (Newcastle), Kostas Pileas (Anorthosi Famagusta) and Kris da Graca (Goteborg). Yeah, there will always be a couple of youngsters that wouldn’t make the grade at the club, so it’s always nice to let go of them, especially when you’re sure you don’t have long-term plans for them but I was sure surprised when Chris Willock packed his bags and went to SL Benfica on a Bosman at the end of June.

That didn’t matter because five days later, Arsenal broke their transfer record for Alexandre Lacazette and there were positive vibes in the Goonersphere. We knew about Lacazette for quite some time and we were very happy to land a forward with such a profilic goal record from France.

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We had needed a new forward for quite sometime and in Lacazatte, we had a forward that could incite fear in opposition defenses, or so we thought, till the manager decided to do his thing and bench him for you know, Danny Welbeck. Ok, I digress.

Following Lacazette’s capture, youngster Kaylen Hinds joined our former Academy boss, Dries Jonker, at Wolfsburg, then more youngsters, Glen Kamara (Dundee) and Dan Crowley (Willem II) were shipped out. The speculation surrounding Wojciech Szczesny’s future was confirmed as he joined Juventus to understudy the legendary Buffon and take over when he retires at the end of this season. The rest of July went past and there was no more activity. Just the usual rumors and speculations here and there.

August stepped in and this time, we had the distraction of the Premier League in addition to the usual transfer shenanigans and meanwhile, we were still at crossroads concerning those players that needed their futures sorted out. The performance against Leicester wasn’t utterly convincing but we got three points and moved on. Just before we visited the Bet365 Stadium to play Stoke, we surprisingly sold Gabriel Paulista to Valencia. Yeah, he didn’t convince many but he was a good squad player at best, and many believed that his sale was going to pave way for a better center half. Virgil van Dijk perhaps.

The loss at Stoke was hard to take, but we still imagined it was a lesson to the manager, letting him know that a central midfielder would be needed as Granit Xhaka had a shocker of a performance. Three more youngsters, Ismael Bennacer (Empoli), Savvas Mourgos (Norwich) and Jon Toral (Hull) were shipped out before the Gunners visited Anfield to take a thrashing from Liverpool.

A day before the transfer deadline day, Arsenal stalwart, Kieran Gibbs, joined West Brom after failing to agree terms with Watford and on transfer deadline day, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool while Donyell Malen completed his move to PSV Eindhoven.

In summary, the Gunners spent £46.5m on Lacazette and Kolasinac (free) and made up to £74m from the sales of five first team players and 12 Reserves, which clearly signifies that there is more money in the club’s coffers for Uncle Scrooge Stan Kroenke and his folks to sleep on. One would have expected Arsene Wenger of all people to know that the team still needed improvement on certain areas but as usual, the team has fall short and we are heading into the campaign with the same lads that bottled things up in the Premier League to the extent they couldn’t even meet the barest minimum last season, which was Champions League qualification.

There is no Arsenal fan that would look at this transfer window and not feel some sort of disappointment. There were targets there for the taking but it just seemed difficult for the club to sign some players sometimes. Even the Lacazette deal seemed like it wasn’t going to work out at some point with Lyon president, Jean-Michel Aulas making it clear that Lacazette was already on his way to Atletico Madrid before they were hit with that transfer ban that made the deal fall through.

Then there was the pathetic failed pursuit of Thomas Lemar as Arsenal seemed like the only team that couldn’t reach a sort of agreement with AS Monaco. In the same transfer window the club lost Bernardo Silva, Valere Germain, Corentin Jean, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy and even football’s most coveted prized asset, Kylian Mbappe, it was evident that Lemar would have been an Arsenal man if the right price was offered. Not those paltry bids from the club.

I guess we have to make do with the squad but when you think of how some of the players in the team have under-performed under Wenger, you can only feel gloomy about the campaign ahead of us. Three games in, the Gunners are already on crisis mode, but in the end, it was money that prevailed over football.


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