ENGLAND: Arsenal’s Dilemma – who can they sign now?


At the beginning of another Barclays Premier League season, Arsenal has found themselves at the wrong end of a 3-1 result versus Aston Villa. The club are yet to make any significant transfers, maneuvering the transfer window like amateurs. It has seen the fans, once again, suffer, while the manager make silly excuses about “making the fans happy” and capable of doing “the job” with the current team. The question on all conflicted minds is who is to blame; should Wenger be fired; and who can Arsenal sign now?

In the papers across Europe, Wenger is to blame for the current situation for he has the final say on all transfers. That would be the most logical assumption considering that a manager must know whom he wants in his squad and who will make it better. The next problem with this is who decides whether the price for a player is acceptable, and that would have to go down to the negotiators such as Dick Law and Ivan Gazidis, who’d be most likely to be staggering over the prices of players, with obvious input from Wenger. Then Wenger again making claims that it is hard to find players who will “improve” the team when opponents have done has yet again put a lot of the focus on him, which I personally think is intentional to keep the pressure off the team. What’s hampering Arsenal is their shrewdness. They have targets identified and they have made bids, but if they were serious contenders they’d realize that every team in the league has overpaid for players and that if they don’t follow suit, they will find themselves where Liverpool are. Therefore, the blame is collective, everyone is responsible, for all have a role to play in negotiations and scouting pricing and so on.

The split between fans that chant “In Wenger we Trust “and “In Wenger we Rust” is becoming larger in favour of the latter. The club’s current situation is not sitting well with AST members who have demanded a hold on contract talks with Wenger until they are pleased. It only shows that people are coming to grips with the possibility of not only losing Wenger but also seeing him sacked. While that may seem like an easy fix to many fans, it is not as simple as that, especially when it comes to finding a replacement. The timing is bad in terms of what the new manager would be able to do in the transfer window, because Arsenal has once again down to the wire and the fact that the season has already started and readjusting to a new managers style and philosophy would only make things worse. There is also the situation with the current crop of players who are not only loyal to Wenger but were handpicked by him. He built this squad to his preference in a manner that he’s seemingly the only top class manager that can get proper results with the players in the squad. Most other managers that the club could get would demand better players more money to buy, things that are against the way Arsenal want to do business. Therefore, whether it’s at the end or beginning of the season, the structure of the foundation of the team is Wenger, and if he goes things might just fall to pieces, not to say a change would not be good or necessary, but there’s a high possibility that it may have the complete opposite effect.

Right now with the position the team is in, with their frugal approach to the transfer market, most of the sensible targets the team could possible get to improve are almost gone. Higuain, Gustavo, Jovetic have all moved to new clubs and were within Arsenal’s budget. Lars Bendar was said to be unavailable as was Fabregas and we all know about the seemingly senseless approach to Luis Suarez. Despite all of this, players are there and available and waiting for Arsenal to come with a proper approach.

Geoffrey Kondogbia: An athletic defensive midfielder, who has earned praises for his game at La Liga side Sevilla. His tackling and blocking/intercepting abilities are his main highlights. A very good cover for the Arsenal defense who can sit in front and protect them, especially with his physical presence.

Ashley Williams: While some might argue he’s not a world beater, he’d definitely bolster the Arsenal defense in terms of numbers. A very good defender, has pace, power, and is capable in the air. A leader on the pitch almost in the same mold as Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal’s captain, who is out injured.

Wayne Rooney: A pursuable signing, and a world class player. Although Manchester United might be reluctant to sell him, the right nudge from Arsenal might make things happen, especially considering that Rooney needs to play as this is a world cup season and title rivals Chelsea are very keen for his signature. United would be better off selling to Arsenal than immediate title contenders in Chelsea, while overseas clubs are not particularly interested in him.

Mamadou Sakho: Since the revolution at PSG with all the new money, Sakho has found himself somewhat on the back foot. A ball playing Central Defender, the type that Wenger likes that can play as full back and defensive midfielder. An all-round athletic player who’s defensive capabilities are very good; reading of the game, tackles, heading, interceptions, blocking and concentration. His age is also plus, showing he can improve. He would be a good addition to The Gunners.

Adem Ljajic: This player while not being a world-beater right now, has the potential to become one of the best players in the world with the right coaching and attitude. A definite game changer and is at the right age to improve and go into his peak. Considering Arsenal’s attacking options, he would also make a good addition with his ability to beat a defender, pick a pass, and even score goals. Arsenal need as much help attacking wise as possible and Ljajic would help in that department.

Angel Di Maria: With the impending transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Di Maria might find himself out in the cold, it is reported that Arsenal is interested and bid in excess of 25million pounds could force a move. This would a fantastic addition to Arsenal’s attacking line Di Maria is a dynamic winger, with a full range of abilities. He can score, play the final ball or key passes, put in a decent cross, easily beat defenders and is brilliant and decisive on the counter. If Arsenal decide not to buy a striker a player like Di Maria has the ability to supply the support Giroud would need from the wings.

Overall, Arsenal has deficiencies all over the pitch that would take more than one transfer window to correct. Though defensive midfielder and a world class striker are the team’s most glaring needs, depth and quality improvement can be injected across the backline and some Arsenal fans may even say between the sticks. In terms of Arsenal’s transfer structure, without a shadow of a doubt, it does need some re-modeling. The inclusion of a director of football to collaborate with Wenger may be the best medicine to improve in this department which Arsenal has been failing at since the sale of Thierry Henry in 2007. To look at a proper platform the Club need to look no further than across the street to their local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.

For years, they have been burdened in the transfer department as it was ran by Daniel Levy and the manager.  With the appointment of Franco Baldini, director of football on the request of Andre Villas Boas, Spurs have arguably dominated the transfer market in England. Signings of the Brazilian international, Paulinho, Chadli, a certified goalscorer, Spanish international, Soldado and Capoue from Toulouse have greatly improved their midfield. Not to mention, the benefits that the club will reap in outsmarting Real Madrid in selling their prized asset, Gareth Bale for a whopping 93 million Euros. That deal could see players such as Willian, Lamela and possibly as a part of Bale deal Coentrao from Madrid. This model in my eyes is the way forward, and Wenger and the Club’s hierarchy should take a look at how it’s been done in the other half of North London.

Sean Drummond

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