Archive for September 1st, 2008

Deadline Day Is Here: Some Midfielders We Might (not) Buy

5 comments September 1st, 2008

The following takes place between 12am and 11.59pm.

Events occur in real time.

Liverpool's Xabi Alonso has just 24 hours to complete a move to Arsenal

Xabi Alonso, Liverpool, £10-12m
Let’s start with the name that has been thrown around most frequently this Summer – Liverpool’s master-passer, Xabi Alonso. In many ways, he fits the bill: experienced, pals with Cesc off the pitch, and best deployed as a deep-lying midfielder. However, signing Alonso would still be quite a radical alternative to Flamini – he is not a harrier, or a tackler. He is more similar to Cesc, and would even provide us with a creative outlet when the Catalan starlet is unavailable. But would he give us the high tempo and defensive stability we got from Flamini? Alonso has undoubted quality. It is the distribution of these qualities that would make his signing a gamble. The chances of this happening will be dictated by Alonso’s own stance. If he has made it clear to the Anfield hierarchy that he wants to leave, then we’re in with a chance. The fact he is Champions League cup-tied might even shave a million or two off his price. But with Gareth Barry staying at Villa this Summer, don’t be surprised if Liverpool decide to hang on to Alonso after all.
Likeliness rating: 3/5

Mark Noble, West Ham, £5m
From one that’s been all over the papers, to one that I don’t think has been mentioned at all. A little known fact is that Noble played for Arsenal as an 11-year old, only to move to his the club he supported, West Ham. Arsene Wenger was apparently disappointed to lose one of our brightest prospects at that age level, and has since spoken in complimentary terms about the industrious midfielder. While he’s hardly the Champions League calibre player we’ve been crying out for, his fiercely competetive spirit, youth, and low price tag might appeal to Le Boss.
Probably not though.
Likeliness rating: 1/5

Wilson Palacios, Wigan, £8-10m
Remember this? Just over a year ago Palacios was ours for the taking, but feeling that our midfield was already overstocked, Arsene rang then Birmingham manager Steve Bruce and told him of Palacios’ burgeoning talent. The Honduran duly signed for Brum, and followed Bruce to Wigan in January. Since then, he has developed into one of the most wanted midfielders in the Premier League. Would Arsene go back for a player who offers us Baptista’s power with the advantage of not being completely useless at football?
Likeliness rating: 3/5

Jimmy Bullard, Fulham, £4m
The newest member of the England set-up might be getting on a bit at 29-years old, but if his display against us last week is anything to go by, there’s plenty of oil still in the tank. Would be a squad option rather than a regular starter, but I’d enjoy it, if only for the fact that his curly locks would remind me of the great Romford Pele, Ray Parlour.
Likeliness rating: 2/5

Stephen Appiah, Free Agent
Although he’s had a very difficult time with injuries, the Ghana captain remains an excellent player. Having been released by our Champions League opponents Fenerbahce, he has been linked with moves to West Ham and Portsmouth. However, as an experiened Champions League campaigner, surely he can do better than that – if Bischoff is worth a gamble, then Appiah definitely is.
Likeliness rating: 4/5

Rino Gattuso, Milan, £3-5m
If Milan have signed ‘The New Gattuso’ in Mathieu Flamini, perhaps they could let us have the old one, who was never too bad in the first place. There were rumours earlier this month that Gattuso has fallen out with manager Carlo Ancelotti, and (partly due to the influence of his Scottish wife), the tigrish midfielder has often stated his desire to return to Britain. It’d be a short-term solution, but the fact Arsene’s left himself just 24 hours to fix the team’s biggest problem suggests this is hardly a time for long-term planning.
Likeliness rating: 4/5

Tiago, Juventus, Available on loan
Back in the days when Tiago was a free-scoring Benfica midfielder (he once bagged 13 in the 2002-03 season), Arsene was reportedly quite interested in bringing him to London. When Tiago did turn up in the capital, it was with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, from whom he played 51 times as they won the Premier League and Carling Cup. Since then, Tiago has had a successful season at Lyon, and a disastrous time at Juventus, which is ending in rather undignified style. Still, players have come from Juventus to Arsenal and not fared too badly before, so maybe he’s worth a gamble. Not world class, but better than a lot of what we have.
Likeliness rating: 4/5

Jeremy Toulalan, Lyon, £10-15m
Well, he’s a holding midfielder whose good enough to play for France. Beyond that, I don’t know a whole lot about him. What I do know is that if you’re going to negotiate with Lyon’s somewhat mad chairman, it’s a good idea to give yourself more than 24 hours to do so.
Likeliness rating: 3/5

Blaise Matuidi (St. Etienne) / Stephane M’bia (Rennes) / Another unheard of Franco-African player from Ligue 1 in their early twenties
Why have I bothered with the rest of this piece?
Likeliness rating: 5/5

You may think a lot of those are pretty far-fetched, but it’s Deadline Day: all kinds of crazy rumours appear. All that effort, and I bet we end up signing no-one.

The above is a bit of fun, but in seriousness, surely someone will arrive. Last year it was Lassana Diarra, the year before that Gallas, Baptista, and Denilson all turned up. One midfielder is a neccessity, two would be nice, and I think a couple of youngsters (Gibbs & Co) might head out on loan.

Who knows: maybe Patrick Vieira’s presence at the Newcastle game was on business rather than pleasure…

Within the next 24 hours, all will be revealed. Tick-tock Arsene. Tick-tock.

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