If Arsenal do sign a forward in this transfer window, it won’t be Demba Ba. The Senegalese striker is instead on the way to Chelsea, who have moved early in the transfer window to secure Ba by meeting the £7m release clause in his contract.
I made little secret of the fact that Ba was my preferred choice to solve Arsenal’s striker problems – I was banging on about it as early as October. He struck me as an affordable, athletic goalscorer – exactly what we need to help Olivier Giroud during his period of adaptation.
However, as soon as Chelsea became interested it became unlikely. On Wednesday I received a piece of information which went some way towards explaining Arsenal’s unwillingness to get involved in the transfer: there are five agents involved in the deal, each demanding a fee of £1m. If Chelsea meet their demands, that almost doubles the cost of the signing, and means Ba’s representatives will take home as much from the deal as Newcastle themselves (£2m of the £7m buyout goes straight in to Ba’s pocket). Add that to Ba’s £80,000 p/week pay-packet and suddenly the gamble on his Swiss cheese cartilage seems a lot more expensive.
Adrián López seems much more like an Arsene Wenger signing. I can’t vouch for the veracity of the links with the Spanish forward, but he has all the attributes Arsene tends to look for: he’s young, quick, technically capable and extremely versatile. He could play in any of the front three positions, which would give Wenger plenty of options and effectively replace Gervinho – during his African Nations exile and hopefully beyond. Some reports have dubbed him “the next David Villa”, but after a difficult season this time round Arsenal fans could be forgiven for hoping for the real thing instead.
Room will have to be made in the squad, and one of the players who has been deemed dispensable is Johan Djourou. The Swiss defender is already in talks with a Ligue 1 club about a permanent move, and when you add that to declared interest from Hannover the signs suggest he could end January anywhere but North London.
I have to say I’m sorry to see him go. I think he’s far better than public perception would have you believe. Don’t forget, it was a back-line of Djourou and Koscielny that played in our 2-1 victory over Barcelona at the Emirates. At that time, almost two years ago, he looked like an Arsenal first-teamer for years to come. Since then, however, he’s failed to get a run of games together, and it saddens me that the last memory many Gooners will have of him is of a few halting performances playing out-of-position at full-back.
Should Djourou go, I don’t necessarily expect Arsenal to sign a replacement. Ignasi Miquel is 20 now and extremely well thought of. This could be his opportunity to become part of the first team squad, especially with the news that Sebastien Squillaci could also be off – although I’d be staggered if he could find a club prepared to match his Arsenal wages.
Finally, you may have read yesterday that Theo Walcott was due to spend the afternoon in talks with Arsenal over a new contract. Well, I wouldn’t expect an announcement any time soon: my information is that no such talks took place. I’m sure there’ll be contact between Arsenal and Theo this month, but that summit has not taken place yet.
Look at that. The window is only a few days already and we’re already up to our neck in transfer chat. It could be a long month. I can only guarantee you that all information I give you is in good faith, and absolutely authentic. Follow me on Twitter @gunnerblog for transfer tidbits and window wailings. It’s rarely fun.