Per Mertesacker Set to be the Next Arsenal Captain

Since I started supporting Arsenal in 1998, I’ve seen the club successfully transition the captain’s armband from one player to another. Captains like Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira lived, ate and breathed Arsenal, and you could see how much playing for the club meant to them. The mere fact that Adams has a statue of him tells the true story of how much the club adored him.

After the Adams / Vieira dynasty came the reign of the King himself, Thierry Henry. There is no better player that donned the famous Red and White like King Henry, but his leadership was questioned when he made the decision to leave the club at the time he was needed the most. Wenger swiftly made the decision to hand the armband over to Henry’s deputy, Gilberto Silva. The Brazilian featured consistently as the captain but he lost his place in the squad to Mathieu Flamini and was shipped out to Panathinaikos afterwards.

Then Wenger made the most awkward decision ever – giving the armband to new signing, William Gallas, when a certain Kolo Toure would have been touted as the next best thing. For obvious reasons, Toure left to the petro-greens of the Etihad but Gallas reign as captain was a tumultuous one before eventually losing the band to the club’s prized asset, Cesc Fabregas.

Thanks to his Barcelona DNA, Fabregas left in 2011 and the captain with the Little Boy inside him also departed the club in rather acrimonious circumstances. The band was given to the Belgian Verminator that looked like a beast in it but his injury problems were too much and he eventually lost his place in the squad. With Vermaelen leaving to Barcelona (what’s with them and taking our captains?), it was time for Mikel Arteta to do the honors and he will be forever remembered for his influence in the dressing room and his selflessness on the pitch.

At the ripe age of 34, Arteta has hung his boots and has began a new adventure in his career with Manchester City, but the void of the captaincy is expected to be filled. According to NBC Sports, Per Mertesacker is set to be named as the new Arsenal captain, as he’s going to be promoted from his current role as vice-captain. His defensive partner, Laurent Koscielny, is set to be named as the new vice-captain.

He moved to the club on transfer deadline day five seasons ago and he has made 207 appearances for the club, including 149 in the Premier League and 36 in Europe. He has scored eight goals for the team, including that all important equalizer in the FA Cup semifinal against Wigan two seasons ago.

I wish the BFG well in his new role as Arsenal captain. Long may he reign.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal to Sign Holding and MLS All Star Squad Announced

The defender (left) was named Bolton's Player of the Season at the end of an impressive debut campaign

Holding was Bolton’s Player of the Season in the last campaign

Arsenal’s policy for investing in youth has remained unchanged, as Arsene Wenger seeks to create a squad that would probably win the quadruple in 2020 or something. Following the imminent arrival of Japanese wonderkid, Takuma Asano, that cried like a baby in his last game for Hiroshima Sanfreece, the Daily Mail has reported that a £2m fee has been agreed for Bolton youngster, Rob Holding.

If he joins the club, he would be the third acquisition of the transfer window, and while Granit Xhaka is a player that is expected to walk into the starting XI, the likes of Asano and Holding will take a while before they can make their marks at the Emirates. It’s always good to invest in youngsters, but there are times when it doesn’t just work out, like the case of a certain Wellington Silva, that has returned to his former club, Fluminense, after an unsuccessful spell with the Gunners.

Wellington signed for the Gunners six years ago but had some challenges with securing a work permit, so he had to be shipped out on loan to Levante, Alcoyano, Ponferradina, Murcia and Almeria and he featured consistently at those clubs before eventually securing a Spanish passport, which automatically qualified him to get a work permit in the UK. At the start of last season, Wellington was actually eligible to play for the Gunners, but he was loaned again to Bolton, which was more or less an indication that he wasn’t good enough to play for the Gunners.

Wellington Silva scoring against Wolves

I’d shared my thoughts on Rob Holding a while ago, so I don’t intend to delve into talking much about him today. However, I will be more interested to see what happens to Calum Chambers, that is clearly behind Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista in the pecking order. Holding has shown a lot of potential and it would be nice to see what he can offer wit the preseason games coming thick and fast.

Speaking of preseason, the Gunners are scheduled to travel to America to face off an All Star MLS side on July 29th, at the Avaya Stadium. The team has been selected by All Star coach, Dominic Kinnear.

Andrea Pirlo and David Villa (right) have been named in the MLS All-Star squad

Andrew Pirlo and David Villa are part of the squad

The team is a true reflection of the word ‘All Star’, as it boasts of the likes of Girovani dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Clint Dempsey, Ignacio Piatti, David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco and the former scourge of Arsenal, Didier Drogba. A full list of the MLS All Star squad can be seen here.

That’s a wrap for today folks.

Sayonara.

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All Aboard the Mauro Icardi Train?

With the 2016/17 Premier League coming to our screens very soon, several teams have continued their investments, bringing in players (selling some too) that would aid them in their respective ambitions. Arsenal is no different, as the club signed Granit Xhaka early in the campaign and followed up with a swoop for Japanese youngster, Takumo Asano.

Talk of Gonzalo Higuain joining the club took center stage, but with the exorbitant amounts being mentioned, it’s only normal to assume that Arsenal would back away, as they’ve done in the past. As the saying goes, Arsene Wenger only goes for a player when he’s available for the ‘right price’.

The latest rumors dominating the back pages is that Arsenal have shifted poles in Italy and have set their sights on one of their prized assets in the city of Milan. Enter Mauro Icardi, a young forward that started his native Argentina before moving to Barcelona’s youth team. After failing to make the grade at Barca, Icardi was snapped by Sampdoria, where he featured for two seasons before moving to Inter Milan. It was in Inter that he hit great heights performing at a consistent basis for the Nerazzurri. In 102 games for the Milan-based outfit, Icardi has scored 52 goals, including 16 goals in an injury-stricken campaign last season when he was announced as the new club captain. The season before that, Icardi smashed in 27 goals for Inter.

Will he fit into Arsenal’s style of play? Of course! Icardi is a very intelligent goal, pacey and physically strong with a good technique. His predatory instincts in the box with make him a thorn in the flesh of opposition defenders.

There are certain potential challenges with this deal, which includes a very highly transfer fee as well as an official statement from the club’s president, Erick Thohir of Oakenshield, declaring that the striker is not for sale at any price,

“Mauro is part of Inter’s heritage, he is our captain and he is not for sale”

A recent survey has shown that the Inter fans want the captain’s armband removed from Icardi, after just one year into his leadership, following some comments by his media personality wife, Wanda Nara, where she stated that her husband’s place in the squad is under threat, because she believes that Inter wants to sell him to generate funds. That didn’t go down well with the Nerazzurri faithful. Icardi and his wife are no strangers to controversy, especially after what happened between them and former Sampdoria teammate, Maxi Lopez.

If the price is right, I hope Arsenal can reach a fee for Icardi. That would be a massive boost for the club because he’s proven quality. But like every other transfer, we have to keep our fingers crossed.

Sayonara.

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