Blog by: Puneet
Arsene Wenger looks to have predictably pushed the panic button on the transfer market after news of intent flooded everyone’s timeline. After the 1-3 loss at home against Aston Villa, fans around the world were up in arms, clearly spelling ‘SPEND’ for the manager from France. Wenger’s interest in Gonzalo Higuain, Luiz Suarez, David Villa and a brave shot at Wayne Rooney is more or less extinguished, especially in Higuain and Villa because they both have chosen alternate destinations, having secured moves to Napoli and Atletico Madrid respectively.
Arsenal are still to formally confirm their berth in this year’s edition of the UEFA Champions League, having played the first leg against their Turkish opponents, Fenerbahce, last night. Their performance was quite spectacular, with a 3-0 victory away from home, and they seemed to feed off all the negative energy after their loss on Saturday.
Goals by Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Olivier Giroud breathed life in to the travelling fans, who were also audience to a brilliant Theo Walcott. The return leg should be much easier now, as 3 away goals are a really big mountain to climb. We can now only hope that Wenger doesn’t decide that the team is actually good enough, which it clearly isn’t. Here’s a brief look at the much anticipated shortlist and a glimpse in to what they will bring to the club.
Guaita currently plies his trade at Valencia, where he has been for almost his entire career, save a year on loan at Recreativo, where he bagged the Ricardo Zamora trophy (awarded to the keeper with the lowest goals-to-games ratio), after he let in only 24 goals in his 30 appearances for the club. He famously held strong against Manchester United, with a 1-1 draw in the 2010-11 Champions League. In 2011, Guaita renewed his contract until 2015, and was first choice, but suffered a hand injury in November, forcing him to the sidelines. He featured in the reserves though, in spite of the injury.
At Arsenal, Guaita will probably be pushed to number one, ahead of Szczesny, given the recent unpleasant exchanges that Wenger faced with the latter and his father. Similar in terms of experience, and games played, Guaita seems to look better on paper, but that again is only speculation. A fee of around £17 million is being touted for the keeper, who will be the second player to leave Valencia after Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham Hotspur picked up Roberto Soldado.
He will add depth to the squad; increase the competition for first choice, something which he is already facing at Valencia. Comparatively young at 26 for a goalkeeper, he will add to the average age in North London too. Szczesny, who is also only 23, will need to take this move as a healthy addition, and he will have to rise to the challenge, as opposed to letting his father talk to the press. In his defence, Szczesny did help his team keep a clean sheet in Turkey yesterday, with at least three crucial parries.
Lukasz Fabianski too is waiting for his chance, and this addition will simply kick up a storm, which should push all three to push themselves. Guaita was also on the radar for Barcelona, when they were planning to replace Valdes, but that fell through. Certainly a good choice, unless the Iker Casillas rumors are not as baseless as they seem to be.
The first of the two players in Swansea that Wenger expressed an interest in, Williams is a defender who has caught many eyes in the past two years. At 28, he is not the longest of investments, but he is more of a stop gap choice to plug the ever-expanding chasm in the backline.
Williams has played over 200 games for the team from Wales, and is a captain for both his club and country. He made his way up from League One to the Premiership in over 5 years with Swansea, and has enough experience and knowledge of how the league functions. Williams featured in at least 40 games in all competitions, over the last 5 years, which is a clear sign of longevity, which Arsenal desperately crave from their squad. Williams will fit the gap left by Vermaelen at center-back. Even Laurent Koscielny picked up a bad knock last night, but the touchline reporter confirmed a cut, which will probably be patched up by this Saturday.
Priced at a tad high £10 million, Wenger may look to bargain a bit, knowing that Wenger has the tightest purse strings in the neighborhood. A combined move for Williams and Michu, valued at £35 million, is what the Internet is saying. There is vague talk of Micah Richards too, which will free up Bacary Sagna at right back, and move him to the center. But speculation is what that sounds like, unless Richards’ love for his childhood club powers through.
The wonderful Yohan Cabaye has been an elusive commodity for quite some time now. Also being pursued by Paris St. Germain, the playmaker was picked up by the Magpies for a measly £4.8 million from Lille, two years ago. He quickly exhibited his prowess in the middle, taking Newcastle United to fifth in the table, adding the Europa Cup to the possibilities.
But Cabaye was quiet last year, and that showed in the 16 place finish, just 5 points clear of the dreaded relegation zone. An initial bid of £10.2 million was rubbished quickly by manager Alan Pardew, but he still chose to drop the player, citing the disrupting effect of the bid on the player. An upped £12 million bid is also doing the rounds, but PSG are already outbidding Wenger by £8 million. Arsenal certainly need players in the middle, but they need a midfielder who can double up as stopper.
A central defensive midfielder is ideal, and must be steely enough to assist the backline, adding another layer of defense to the 4-1-4-1. Cabaye is very similar to the talent Arsenal have, like Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and even the injured Mikael Arteta. Instead of picking up players who mirror existing players, Wenger needs to help add to their ability by putting out a squad that is water-tight, at least on paper.
A proven goal scorer, Michu is now being touted as the marquee signings the fans are rooting for. Nowhere even close to the stature of a Suarez or Higuain, Michu is certainly a compromise and defines a ‘panic buy’. With the reportedly tabled bid of £35 for both Michu and Williams, Arsene Wenger looks at risk of overpaying. Michu is 27, and can switch from playing striker to playing central attacking midfielder. He played a total of 43 games in all competitions last season, managing to net 22 goals, 18 of which came from 35 Premier League games, which reemphasizes his stature as a Premier League sensation.
If Arsenal are in the mix, which Swansea have clearly denied, Michu will probably end up playing second/supporting striker. Take in to account his ability as a player who is suited to the middle of the pitch, he will probably act as the channel to the final third, occasionally acting as the target man. He will certainly not replace Giroud, but will fill the space around him. Michu will be another valuable addition, even though he is not a star in footballing terms.