Archive for January 5th, 2009

The way Arsene is talking, only one player is coming in

3 comments January 5th, 2009

After Saturday’s game, Arsene said:

“What I want, if we do add somebody, is really special class.  If the right player comes in, even if he is not available for the Champions’ League, the class is more important.”

“Somebody”.  “The right player”.  Not some people, not the right players.  Just before the turn of the year, he said:

“The transfer window opens (on Thursday) and, although we are not close to signing anyone at the moment, if we do buy I think what we need is maybe someone with a bit of experience … Cesc is a long way from playing again, so are Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott, and these are three creative players that we count on at the start of the season. So what we might need is someone who can create a little spark.”

Again, the manager is talking in the singular.  Elsewhere, although typically I can’t find the exact quote right now, he suggested a creative player was the priority and that another midfielder might follow “eventually”.  “Eventually” doesn’t really suggest “in this window”.

That, to me, suggests that we’ll be lucky if we get the tackling midfielder or towering centre-back we asked for at Christmas.  It looks, instead, that we may well get an attacking midfield player, in the mould of Andrei Arshavin or, if we don’t have the funds, Alessandro Rosina:

Since that short film was made, Rosina has fallen out of favour, and could now be available on loan.

My opinion (and it truly is nothing more substantiated than that) is that there is a genuine interest in Arshavin.  The Russian is keen to play for the club, and would certainly add to our options in creative roles.  Arsene’s remark about being Champions League cup-tied is just the latest in a string of comments which have done little to quash the speculation that the Zenit playmaker could soon be joining.

I suspect, however, that we would be unwilling to pay anything more than around £12m for a player who is already 27 and would command reasonably high wages.  If a deal can’t be agreed, a loan option like Rosina seems entirely sensible.

Is it, however, ‘entirely sensible’ for Arsene to be plotting a transfer strategy which leaves us without reinforcements in the areas of the pitch where the long-term need is the greatest – central midfield and defence?

Well, that depends on your perspective.  In the short-term, yes, it’s lunacy.  We are very weak in those areas and with injuries piling up all the time we have become increasingly reliant on youngsters like Johan Djourou, Aaron Ramsey, and Denilson.

But if I’m right, and Arsene is thinking along the lines of bringing in just one creative player, he obviously sees it differently.  I can only think that he accepts that we will not win either of the major competitions this season, and wants to use it to give the younger players the experience they need to be major players next season.  I’m thinking of Djourou and Denilson in particular.  The squad will then be readdressed and majorly overhauled in the Summer – which, let’s face it, is a far more appropriate time to do such a thing.

A strategy like that would be a massive gamble – the principle gamble being that we’d be able to make fourth place with such a weak squad.

This is all guesswork on my part, so don’t take it too much to heart.  It is, I suppose, my “prediction” for this window.  It’s not what I want to happen: I want a defensive midfielder AND a creative one, dammit.  And if anything, it is the former that I consider the priority.

The fact remains that what Arsene says to the press simply cannot be trusted, and any transfer strategy would change dramatically if anyone were to leave – just as his plans must surely have been affected by Cesc’s injury. If we can predict anything about Arsene with any certainty, it’s that he’ll surprise us.

Wait and see.  As Man City inject money into the market this week, business could start to pick up.

Till tomorrow.

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