Arsenal have completed their first official transfer of this window, and unsurprisingly it’s a transfer out rather than in: Marouane Chamakh has joined West Ham United on a six month loan. Upon sealing the deal, he said:
“We played only one striker at Arsenal, so I didn’t play a lot, so I hope to do so more with West Ham. I think this will be a very important move for me and I don’t want to waste any more time. I want to contribute immediately.”
It’s a difficult stance to argue with, and the polar opposite of the attitude of Andrey Arshavin, who has turned down the chance to move to Reading to sit in the doldrums at Arsenal. Chamakh is 28 now, and not played a single minute in the Premier League this season. He’s spent most of his time on the training ground putting out the football bibs. If he is to have any chance of resurrecting his career, it’s clear he needed to move on.
The fact his career is in need of resurrection at all is what intrigues me. It may be hard to recall now, but when Chamakh first joined Arsenal he looked like the real deal. For a long time Arsenal had been told they needed a physical, aerially dominant centre-forward, and Chamakh looked to be that man. He scored an impressive 10 goals in his first 17 starts. At the time, Robin van Persie was yet to explode in to the player he is now, and was suffering one of his customary injuries. I will admit that during this period I may have stated a case for RVP to be sold off now we had a more reliable forward in Chamakh. Shows what I know.
For everything was soon to change. After a goal against Aston Villa in November, Chamakh had to wait until March 3rd for his next in Arsenal colours. Robin van Persie returned from injury to have his extraordinary calendar year of 2011, and as his star shone brighter and brighter, Chamakh’s waned. He never regained his place in the side, his manager’s faith, or his confidence in front of goal.
That’s why he’s going on loan, rather than making a permanent move. No club would risk a fee on a player who has suffered such a dramatic decline, and I suspect we’re probably paying a proportion of his hefty wages during his time at West Ham too. Nevertheless, if it works out, we may find a buyer – he is very much in the shop window.
There’s a decent player in there. Not a player to match RVP, or even Olivier Giroud, but a player capable of holding up the ball and providing a threat in the air. A player who will suit West Ham down to the ground. If he can get a game ahead of Carlton Cole or Andy Carroll, things could work out for him. I hope they do, for everyone’s sakes.
Chamakh’s departure, as well as Gervinho’s time at the African Cup of Nations, leaves us very light upfront. I considered a striker a priority before the window – now it’s nothing less than a necessity. Worryingly, our options seem to be decreasing all the time: Demba Ba has joined Chelsea, Huntelaar has re-signed at Schalke, and Fernando Llorente is in talks about a Bosman move to Juve. I’ve read the stories about David Villa, but I can’t see that one happening. The obvious signings have all disappeared from the table. That said, Arsene has never really been one for the obvious. Let’s hope he’s got a trick up his sleeve.
I was irked by his comments suggesting fans demand the signing of “Messi” etc. It’s nonsense. Most fans simply want appropriate investment in the side. Letting players go (Johan Djourou seems set to follow Chamakh through the exit door) only increases the need for reinforcements.
One to keep an eye on could be Thierry Henry. When asked by Arsenal.com about the seemingly dead deal for the Frenchman, Arsene said:
“We have not gone as far with Thierry because we look more for permanent people.”
Sensible. Positive, even. However, Arsene went on to suggest that a couple of injuries and Thierry’s willingness could change that situation later in the month. Given my lack of confidence about our ability to pull in alternative signings, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Henry in an Arsenal shirt in 2013.
So far in this window, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Spurs have already completed deals. The onus is on Arsenal to show similar urgency.