Archive for August 20th, 2013

Transfer Update: The Trolley Dash Begins

786 comments August 20th, 2013

It has begun. Arsenal have started the painfully inevitable desperate scrabble for signings. Dale Winton has sounded the klaxon, and the footballing version of Supermarket Sweep is well and truly underway.

It began with a brief conversation I had with an agent yesterday, in which they indicated that Dick Law had been unusually open to a suggested signing. Then the news broke that Arsenal had bid £10m for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye.

Cabaye is a decent player, but not at the elite level as some of the names we were linked to earlier this summer. Targeting him suggests Wenger recognises the need for squad numbers as well as “super quality”. Cabaye is less of a glamorous marquee player and more of a cosy tipi.

Don’t get me wrong, the Frenchman is a decent player, and will help plug the gap created by the departure of Francis Coquelin and the injury to Mikel Arteta. However, he is not the sort of world class talent who will transform us from a side battling to stay in the top four to one competing for major trophies.

It’s all somewhat reminiscent of the final days of the summer 2011 window, when Arteta was one of five hurried signings. Back then, an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United radically altered the club’s transfer policy. Arsenal had been offered Per Mertesacker several times throughout the summer, but never showed an ounce of interest. However, shortly after that game, Werder Bremen’s asking price was met and Mertesacker boarded a plane to London. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Arsenal appear to have reached that point even earlier in this window.

After months of insisting that Arsenal would look after all transfer business in house, I learnt today that the club are now actively briefing agents about the positions they are struggling to fill. They are welcoming propositions for a defensive midfielder and a striker – the latter requirement suggesting the club are close to abandoning hope of securing Luis Suarez.

With Suarez, it’s clear Arsenal were led up a particularly winding garden path by the player and his agent. The £40,000,001 bid and Arsene Wenger’s statement that “we believe we havee done enough” indicate that Arsenal understood this convoluted clause in Suarez’s contract to be a legitimate release fee. The swift scaling down of Suarez’s agitating for a move suggests he was never particularly convinced by the prospect of joining Arsenal – the whole flirtation may have been a ploy to attract a bid from Real Madrid that never arose.

Instead, Madrid have turned their focus to Gareth Bale, and Suarez seems to have accepted that he will spend this season at Anfield. In the meantime, Spurs continue to strengthen their team in preparation for Bale’s departure. Brazilian midfielder Willian is set to join the likes of Paulinho, Capoue and Soldado in a list of signings that would all have been welcome on the other side of North London.

Spurs appear to have a plan. That’s something that Arsenal fans can only dream of. The clock is ticking and the stakes are rising. Things could be about to get very messy indeed.

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