Back to School + Arsenal move for Niang

The Arsenal squad recommence training at London Colney today, and they’ll be buzzing with the usual ‘back to school’ excitement.  What’ve they been up to over the holidays?  Has Mikel Arteta’s hair shown any sign of moving?  What cool new pencil case has Andre Santos got?

Of course, not everyone will be in attendance.  Term might have started, but most of the boys are still absent.  Anyone involved in the European Championships will not return to training for a week or two yet.  Another absentee will be Yossi Benayoun, who has returned to Chelsea after the end of his loan spell.  Clearly, no-one told Andre Santos:

Oh dear.  The cuddly Brazilian will be gutted about the departure of his pointier Israeli chum.  I am a little too: Benayoun’s commitment to the cause last season was greater than many on far longer-term deals.  Whichever club ends up signing him will be very lucky indeed.

Another man unlikely to be at Colney is Aaron Ramsey.  The Welshman flies to Spain this week to train with Team GB ahead of the Olympics.  He has, however, spoken briefly about the situation with another absentee, Robin van Persie:

“I don’t know and we as players don’t know what is happening so we will just have to wait to see what happens.”

Basically, he doesn’t know.  With Arsene Wenger now back doing his day job as opposed to commentating at the Euros, I think it’s highly likely he’ll be asked to comment on it sooner rather than later.  When he does, it should make interesting reading.

Unsurprisingly, since the RVP news broke we’ve been linked with a few forwards.  I actually don’t think that his departure would prompt a major signing: Olivier Giroud would simply be hurried in to action more swiftly than Arsene had envisaged.  However, the likely departures of Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-Young, along with the fact that Joel Campbell has joined Real Betis on loan, mean we could have room for another striker in the squad.  Someone like M’baye Niang.

Reports in France suggest 17 year-old forward Niang is about to join up with Arsenal for a trial period.  His club, Caen, were relegated from Ligue 1 last season, and would be keen to cash in on their prize asset.  Niang is a phenomenal athlete, who started playing top level football aged just 16, and would clearly be an exciting capture for Arsenal.  You can read a fuller profile of him here.  Of course, even if he did sign there’s every chance he’d be loaned out again, so I wouldn’t rush out and get your shirt printed just yet.

Pre-season training is upon us.  The players will be suffering, but for me it’s sweet relief.  The season creeps ever closer.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.