Archive for the ‘Football’ Category


Arsenal update: Gundogan and Flamini

By Stefano on August 9th, 2013

There are a lot of unhappy Arsenal bloggers at the moment. And with good reason. While most of Arsenal’s rivals have strengthened their squads and started to integrate those players into their teams Arsenal fans are still waiting not just for a marquee signing, but any singing really.

With the Suarez move in the balance it appears that the club has once again been looking at midfield options. And there are two names that are being linked with the club this week.

Firstly let’s get the one that isn’t going to happen out of the way. The Express are suggesting that the Gunners are working on bringing Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan to Arsenal. The defensively minded midfielder, who was arguably the side’s best player in the Champions league final, is to be the subject of a £20 million bid.

Is it going to happen? Well the player’s farther has already poured cold water on the idea saying that his son isn’t ready for a move to the Premiership. Besides a move from a club that made the CL final to a side that is once again looking like Prem League also-rans doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade. Of course a mega bid might tempt the player, but £20 million doesn’t sound like a lot of cash for a young player with a huge amount of potential.

If not Gundogan then how about Matty Flamini. Yep the ex Arsenal players is rumoured via Twitter to have been training with the Arsenal team. Now this is a rumour that I can believe. Wenger obviously knows the player’s strengths and weaknesses and realises that he could be a useful addition to the team and might even give Arteta a game or two off this season. So why not get a closer look at him? After all disappointing injury hit seasons in Italy have taken their toll and he clearly isn’t the promising player that departed London five years ago. That said it is not like Flamini is going to cost a great deal of cash.

He will probably end up at Stoke or Sunderland, but I don’t think too many Gunners would be sad to see him sign. As long as he isn’t the only signing that the club makes in the next few weeks.


Arsenal dilemma: if not Suarez… Sanchez? Lewandowski? Michu?

By Stefano on July 30th, 2013

There appears to be a split as to how Arsenal are set to progress with their possible transfer of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. Some papers are saying that Arsenal are readying a third bid, while others hint that Wenger might wait until towards the end of August before making the key move for the player.

The third option though is that Arsenal will miss out on their target and there are many Arsenal fans who won’t be too concerned if Wenger does start to look elsewhere.

The big issue for Arsenal though is that so many of their potential targets have already moved on. Higuain, Bony, Cavani, Jovetic are all gone. Arsenal also face the added problems of a Bale-less Spurs with a huge war chest to spend too.

Who then could the Gunners line up as that much discussed marquee signing?

Robert Lewandowski – Well the Pole has a year left on his contract at Dortmund and it seems very unlikely that he will be going anywhere apart from Bayern come this time next year. Unless.. Arsenal weigh in with a mega bid. It might tempt Dortmund, but will the player fancy it…

Michu – This is another unlikely one. He would be relatively inexpensive (well less than £25 million) has lots of Premiership experience and would be a hit with the fans. But he is probably too similar to Olivier Giroud to tempt Wenger. Besides I think Swansea would quite rightly fight tooth and nail to keep him.

Alexis Sanchez - A couple of sites are already linking Arsenal with Barca’s Alexis Sanchez. The theory being that Neymar’s arrival might push him off the team sheet. The down side with Sanchez is his rather poor form since his signing in 2011. 26 goals in 87 appearances isn’t much of return in a fairly easy league when your team are way superior to almost all their rivals. He would also be pricey. Barca paid £30 million for him to grab him from Udinese. They would probably want something approaching that figure before letting him go.

Stephan El Shaarawy - A great prospect but would Milan let him go? Unlikely. It would have to be a mega bid to get their attention. He has been linked with Arsenal before.

Chuba Akpom/Yaya Sanogo - In other words, spend some of the cash on Fellaini and a creative midfielder and see what the youngsters are made of. Not a policy that will please too many fans though…


Fabregas not for sale says Martino, so will Arsenal/United look again at Fellaini?

By Stefano on July 26th, 2013

Some bad news for David Moyes, but good news for Barcelona fans, in that new Barca manager Gerardo Martino has told the Man United boss unequivocally that Cesc Fabregas is not for sale.

Martino said at a press conference this morning: ‘Man United want Cesc? If the club rejected two offers, I will reject it a third time. Cesc will be here.’

The Daily Mail reported that Barca vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu had weighed in too adding: ‘It’s normal United are interested, it’s an honour, but we count on Cesc and we won’t sell, no matter the offer.’

If this ends the hunt for Fabregas by Moyes then several papers are saying that he will switch his attention to offering a huge bid for Christiano Ronaldo.

From Arsenal’s perspective this begs the questions where does it leave the club in their hunt for a midfielder?

There’s an interesting post on Squawka today which analyses Arsenal’s midfield. It points to the way that Arteta has taken on a holding role, but that he isn’t a traditional stopper in the way that say Song and Gilberto were for Arsenal. While the Squawka team suggests that Arsenal don’t necessarily need to invest in an old school type of defensive midfielder it does say that their centre is lacking a degree of presence. Most of the players, Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky etc are either under six foot or are slight of build. The article argues that what Arsenal need more than anything in the centre of the park is a degree of presence. And what could give you more presence in the midfield than a six foot plus tall Belgian with an Afro.

As has been well documented Fellaini has a release clause tied into his contract at Goodison Park of £22 million that expires on July 31st. That gives Wenger less than a week to make his mind up about the Belgian. With Fabregas out of the picture for both teams (assuming that Arsenal might have tried to intervene and sign the player if United had been successful in their bid, which some Arsenal bloggers have suggested been the reason why the club haven’t signed a midfielder) Fellaini could become a priority.

Arsenal have the resources to invest in the player. United have too, but then if they are ramping up for a Ronaldo bid they might find that money is needed elsewhere. And United aren’t exactly short of midfield power either. This one could get very interesting in the next few days.


Is this Arsenal’s most disastrous summer of recent times?

By Stefano on July 26th, 2013

Well it is a dramatic statement I know, but I am beginning to feel that way. Previous summers have felt like torture for Arsenal fans as they have watched their star players leave for other clubs.

But this year has been worse. In many ways it has completely undermined my confidence in the club and its management and its ability to create a team that will challenge for trophies. I feel that we are becoming a laughing stock. And the bad news is that it could get worse.

1 Suarez - Yes he is a great player, but the club has values grounded in decades of doing things the right way. I really am not sure that he is the type of person who should be pulling on a red and white shirt. Besides to sign the player we will have to find the best part of £50 million. We could have signed Higuain and Fellaini for around that fee. He just isn’t worth it.

2 If not Suarez, who else? – The problem is that I fear we now have all our eggs in the Suarez basket. We have watched as target after target have signed for other clubs. Jovetic, Bony, Benteke were all within our grasp, but we let them go. The depressing part is that so few players seem genuinely excited about signing for us. That clearly wasn’t the case a few years back. We will be left with paying well over the odds for the likes of Lewandowski or Michu, or more likely not spending the cash at all.

3 Cesc – This is all going to end horribly isn’t it? After whispering that he quite fancies linking up with his old pal RVP I can now see a possible United move on the cards. As much as I’d like to think that Wenger would intervene and bring the player home, maybe Cesc has watched what has happened at Arsenal this summer and decided he would be better off in Manchester. It would be heartbreaking to see Fabregas playing for United. If the manager and the board don’t get this they really haven’t an inkling about what the fans are feeling.

4 Williams/Fellaini – We needed a quality centre back before the injuries, now we need one desperately. Williams could have been signed weeks ago and should have been on tour with his new team mates. Instead we have been quibbling about the cash and who knows we may even miss out on this one. As for Fellaini, there was a genuine buzz of excitement when the Belgian was linked with us a month or so ago. It now seems that he will be heading elsewhere.

The worst part of all is that we are now in a postion where we have the cash to spend on new players. But it just isn’t happening. Is it down to Wenger’s indecision, or the intervention of the management team? Or is it simply that players don’t want to join us? The whole thing is a terrible mess and that only reason why the lot down the other end of the Seven Sisters Road aren’t rubbing our noses in it is because they have their own problems.

Other summers were bad, but I think this is shaping up to be our worst summer of recent times. Sure some serious investment could turn it around, but like everyone else I was expecting a few marquee signing to be paraded at the Emirates Cup and ready for a new season. I just hope that we don’t let it to go to the wire – remember what happened last time we did that?


Arsenal update: Suarez on plane back? Bernard says he has had English offers

By Stefano on July 25th, 2013

Quick lunchtime update. Luis Suarez is currently on Liverpool’s tour of Australia and not chatting to Arsene Wenger about a move to The Emirates. However it appears he might be doing that very soon.

There’s speculation that he could well be jetting back to the UK. Here’s what SDN has to say.

Liverpool play the Thailand national team on Sunday 28 July on the next leg of their pre-season tour and are due to land in Bangkok late this afternoon.

However, speculation is mounting that Suarez has in fact remained in Australia and will be flying back out to the United Kingdom in order to conduct talks with Arsenal over a potential transfer.

It would makes sense wouldn’t it. Btw Le Grove has an interesting article on why he thinks that the Suarez deal is going to happen. Personally I think that we would be fools to discount as late bid from Real Madrid scuppering Arsene’s plans.

However the fact that the player has left the tour would seem to indicate that a deal is imminent.

Interestingly another Arsenal target Bernard has let it be known that he has had some offers from English clubs. The winger said

‘There are offers from English football, Shakhtar and Porto. I’ll keep working until the board decides something about the transfer.’

‘I don’t know what can happen with me, but if I leave, I know I will have done my job.’

With Gervinho seemingly out of the door, Bernard would be not just am smart move but a considerable upgrade for the Gunners.


How the Bale transfer saga could torpedo Arsenal’s Suarez deal

By Stefano on July 25th, 2013

I might not be a Spurs fan but in a weird way as a Gooner I can understand a little bit of what the club are going through. You have a world class player (see also Fabregas, van Perise etc) and summer after summer Europe’s elite clubs are circling round them while your management team is adamant they are going nowhere.

Whether Bale does leave Spurs is a moot point. The press has been full of ‘he is going,’ no ‘he wants to stay’ nonsense for several days now, and I guess only the Welshman knows the truth.

The difficulty is that the longer the Bale situation remains unresolved the trickier things get for Tottenham, but ironically enough Arsenal too. To illustrate what I mean let’s take a look at two scenarios.

1 Bale stays - I think it is fair to surmise that Bale is Real Madrid’s number one target and quite possibly the only club he will go to. If Bale does stay at Spurs then the Spaniards are very likely to turn their attention to Luis Suarez. As much as it pains me to say it if they did come anywhere near Arsenal’s bid for the player I am sure the Uruguayan would be off to Spain in a heartbeat. Liverpool also manage to avoid the ignominy of selling their best player to a Premiership rival. That leaves Arsenal minus Suarez (and also Higuain, Jovetic, Benteke, Bony etc) and scrabbling around for that marquee striker that will turn them into title contenders.

2 If Bale goes – Now this is where it gets mighty tricky.  All of sudden Tottenham have a huge war chest to spend. I wonder if the player they would then target would be, you guessed it, Suarez. If previous history is anything to go by they could possibly outbid Arsenal. Even if the Suarez saga has been resolved by then Arsenal and Spurs would possibly find themselves bidding for the the same players towards the end of the window, which delivers inflated prices and that won’t go down well at Arsenal. The irony is that Spurs might sell their talisman, but it could end up being really bad news for the Gunners.

Finally the longer the situation remains unresolved the worse it gets. If Bale hangs on until August before Spurs sell him they have less time to spend that cash.

So what do you think? If Bale goes who will Spurs buy? Suarez?


Arsenal transfer update: Chelsea’s Juan Mata linked by UK paper

By Stefano on July 19th, 2013

Normally I would put this story in the file marked pure speculation. However it comes from The Independent, which isn’t a paper that is usually big on wildly unsubstantiated football rumours.

Anyhow the paper is claiming that…

Arsenal could be about to launch an audacious bid for Chelsea’s Juan Mata, with manager Arsene Wenger keeping an eye on the midfielder’s future as it has been thrown into question as part of the Wayne Rooney transfer saga.

Wenger came close to signing Mata in 2011, but the former Valencia playmaker chose to move to Chelsea instead of the Gunners.

I guess the theory is that if Rooney signs for Chelsea then Mata may be considered a creative player too far. Wenger is very keen on the Spaniard and I can’t imagine that Arsenal fans who would be unexcited about his arrival.

The issue would be that it might take a quite a lot of cash to prise him from Chelsea. Also are The Blues really going to sell a player to their London rivals? They did a swap deal of sorts a few years back which saw William Gallas arrive at Arsenal. But that 2006 transfer also saw Ashley Cole going in the opposite direction.

Incidentally The Indie also hints at the growing restlessness that is surrounding Arsenbal at the moment.

Fans of the north London club are becoming restless with their side’s lack of transfer activity despite a hefty transfer budget thought to be around £70m. Bids have been made for both Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid and Luis Suarez of Liverpool, but progress appears to have halted on the former and they saw their £30m bid for Suarez rejected.


£40 milllion for Suarez – are Arsenal getting desperate?

By Stefano on July 19th, 2013

A couple of papers this morning are reporting that Arsene Wenger has been given the green light to make a £40million bid for Luis Suarez.

The size of the bid will allegedly trigger a clause in Suarez’s contract which could then make it up to him whether or not he moves south to London.

This is either the most audacious bid that the club have ever made and a sign that they are going to compete with their London and Manchester rivals for the title. Or just plain madness.

Some have argued that with Arsenal missing out on previous targets – invariably by not offering enough apparently – that Wenger and his team has gone mad in a bid to make sure this one lands.

So is this the football equivalent of shopping at 5pm on Christmas Eve tanked up after the office Xmas do? Or is it the culmination of a strategy that has seen the club identify who they want and make a concerted attempt to land him.

And Arsenal fans do you want the controversial player at your club? A man who will miss the start of the season anyhow as he is suspended for biting another player, remember.

These are interesting times for Arsenal fans.


Arsenal back in for Ashley Williams now that Vermaelen is out for three months

By Stefano on July 18th, 2013

In today’s least surprising news the Metro is reporting that Arsenal are back in for Swansea’s centre back Ashley Williams.

The gunners were looking at the defender earlier in the window but seem to have cooled their interest as they decided to keep their Belgian captain Thomas Vermaelen. However with Vermaelen out for three months with a a stress fracture in his lower back Wenger has been forced to renew his interest in the 28 year old.

Swansea apparently want £10 million. I guess Arsenal are looking to pay about half that, but in this instance the Welsh club have a pretty strong bargaining position.

Williams was superb for Swansea last season and he would give Wenger Arsenal a degree of strength that their defence has been lacking. It would be very interesting to see what the Williams/Koscielny partnership looked like.

If there is one signing that I expect Wenger to make this week it is this one.


Rooney? Suarez? Lewandowski? Are Arsenal running out of options?

By Stefano on July 18th, 2013

It is never a good thing to be jealous of other people’s wealth, but I can’t help but think that Arsene Wenger must be little envious at the moment of the stash of cash currently banked somewhere in Naples.

For even though the Arsenal manager has apparently been given £70-1000 million to spend, his counterpart at Napoli, is now sitting on double that courtesy of selling Edinson Cavani to PSG for £55 million.

And that huge wodge of cash almost certainly means that one Arsenal target, Gonzalo Higuiain, will be heading to Italy and not England.

It is starting to be a bit of a worrying trend. Arsenal have got the cash and seemingly the ambition, but so far they have been unable to spend it. And in case you have forgotten there are only six weeks pf the window left.

Many of the big names have already gone and of the players who are still available – are Arsenal going to land them?

Rooney always seemed like a very long shot and if he does leave United he is likely to end up at Chelsea. Suarez may be making noises about a move to London, but at the end of the day is he going anywhere apart from Real Madrid? And as for Jovetic, it seems likely that he will end up at Man City.

Of the European striking superstars that Wenger promised that just leaves one Robert Lewandowski up for grabs. Of course if United sell Rooney that money could fund a move for the Pole, but would he want to play second fiddle to the Dutch fella? At the moment the player is saying that he will stay at Dortmund, but that could change.

So maybe just maybe when the Suarez saga runs its course Arsene will look once again the Dortmund player. Now that would be a marquee singing.


Arsenal update: Santi Cazorla leaving already? New Suarez bid

By Stefano on July 17th, 2013

Well there are a pair of monster stories this morning. First up is the shock news that Arsenal’s classy midfielder Santi Cazorla has agreed personal terms with Atletico Madrid and that the two clubs are now talking about a transfer fee.

The news was reported in Spain during the night by Marca. Interestingly it hasn’t been picked up by any of the UK papers yet – though I am sure it is a matter of time.

It sounds unlikely though doesn’t it? Cazorla had a successful start to his Arsenal career, seems happy at the club and has given no impression of angling for a move…

Yet this would be the third time that the player has moved in three years – bit of a pattern?

It could just be that the player’s agent is pushing for extra cash to put him on the same level as other Arsenal players. But if there is some truth in this it is a tad worrying. Maybe Arsene better start thinking about Cesc again.

Meanwhile the papers are full of the story that Arsenal are about to bid again for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

The Metro has just gone live with this

Suarez’s representatives believe they can force through a transfer if an offer of £40m is lodged – something Liverpool contest.

The Reds believe they only have to inform the player of a bid, and have no obligation to accept, but the striker’s camp wants this theory put to the test.

Suarez has indicated his willingness to join both Arsenal and Madrid, but it’s the Gunners who are the most likely to firm up their original offer in the 26-year-old.

Maybe it is just me but I still can’t see this happening either. Surely the Suarez bids are a smoke screen to get Real to hurry up and buy the player so that Arsenal can get a better deal on Higuain. Around £40 million for a player is a lot of money ,especially one who can’t be guaranteed not to miss chunks of the season through his misdemeanours.


Would Man United be doing Arsenal a favour in bidding for Fabregas?

By Stefano on July 15th, 2013

There’s a lot of talk this morning suggesting that David Moyes is mulling over a move for Barcelona’s Cecs Fabregas. So how might this be good news for Arsenal?

Well the theory runs like this. At the moment, in spite of the arrival of Neymar, Fabregas is committed to staying in Barcelona and battling it out for a first team place. However the more interest there is in the player the more likely I guess that he might feel that he would be more valued elsewhere.

And with all due respect to United he is much more likely to end up back at Arsenal. No one knows, but it seems quite likely that Arsenal have a buy back clause and that would mean that they would be able to scoop up the midfielder for much less than United will have to pay for him.

The Indie said this a couple of days ago…

Arsenal sold Fabregas to Barcelona in 2011 after a long-winded pursuit of the Catalan youngster, but it is believed that a £25 million clause in his contract will see Arsene Wenger have first refusal on the midfielder.

And would Fabregas want to come back? Well he is no Van Persie. Fabregas is clearly besotted with the club, is still on very good terms with the management and players and watches as many of the games as he can. Would Wenger want him Back though, after all there is a school of thought that Arsenal have already replaced him with Santi Cazorla? I think the player’s flexibility would mean that Wenger would find a place for him.

The big worry is that with their current squad Arsenal still don’t look like they will rival United for the title this season.  The addition of a couple of hefty big money signings, along with Fabregas could change all that.

Whether those big money signings arrive is another matter. Ultimately I think that in spite of the interest from United Fabregas will try his luck at Barcelona for at least another year. But if he has a change of mind, David Moyes could be doing Arsenal a favour in helping nudge the player closer to the exit door.


Arsenal update: Suarez and Higuain. New offers?

By Stefano on July 12th, 2013

Lots of gossip in the papers this morning about Arsenal making a second offer to Liverpool for Luis Suarez and how it will take to land him.

The Reds are apparently prepared to listen to offers of around £40 million and if anything like that amount of money is on the table some sources say they will encourage the player to put in a transfer request.

Arsenal meanwhile are rumoured to have offered £30 million and a second offer will take them significantly closer to Liverpool’s asking price. It remains to be see though whether Liverpool will cash in on their talented but unpredictable striker.

Suarez’s favoured destination is still reckoned by some to be Real Madrid, the club that currently own Arsenal’s other major target Gonzalo Higuain. The theory is that were Real to sign Suarez it would make Higuain the third choice striker at the club and make a move to north London more likely. There is still argy bargy over the price with Real wanting more than the £23 million that Arsenal are rumoured to have offered them.

Much of whether the Higuain to Arsenal is alive or not centres around whether Ancelotti is truly keen on keeping the player or indulging in mind games with Wenger to get the best possible deal.



Arsenal update: Fabregas and Williams back on? Abate in for Sagna?

By Stefano on July 11th, 2013

Well they keep on reeling us in… The Daily Mail has a story today that suggests that the Cesc Fanregas to Arsenal might be back on. It says that as the summer has worn on Fabregas has felt increasingly isolated at Barcelona and is mulling over igniting the clause in his contract that would see him return to north London.

The paper says

Publicly, the Spaniard maintains he wants to stay at the Nou Camp, but doubts over how he fits into manager Tito Vilanova’s plans after being regularly overlooked for big games last season has left Fabregas in two minds.

And the Gunners are poised to strike should the midfielder decide his future lies elsewhere with the Emirates Stadium club being kept updated on developments regarding the 26-year-old’s future as the summer progresses.
A deal to re-sign Fabregas will be relatively straightforward to conclude. As part of the deal that took Fabregas back to Spain, Arsenal secured a £25million first-option clause as part of the transfer.

If that is the case then it might be one of the reasons why Arsenal have appeared sluggish in the transfer market.

The Mail also says that following the injury to Thomas Vermaelen, Arsene Wenger is tracking Swansea defender Ashley Williams again. Wenger initially balked at Swanbsea’ £10 million price tag, but with the Belgian apparently out for three months he may now see it as worthwhile investment.

Finally a few sources are running with a story that says that Bacary Sagna is likely to leave north London and return to France. The Daily Star says that high on the list of potential replacements is AC Milan’s Ignazio Abate, a 26 year old who only has one year left on his contract.


Arsenal offer £35 million for Suarez? But is Higuain still the real target?

By Stefano on July 10th, 2013

Its is still speculation, but Goal are suggesting that rather than go back to their original number one transfer target Gonzalo Higuain, the Gunners are preparing a £35 million offer for Luis Suarez.

Arsenal offered £30 million last week, but we knocked by Liverpool. However £35 million might just be enough to convince the Reds that they should part with their talented but troublesome striker.

It might even by an attempt to push the deal through before Arsenal leave on their pre-season tour of Asia tomorrow.

Like a lot of Arsenal fans I am agonising over this one. Sure Suarez is a superb striker with a proven Premiership record, but are we ready to handle all the baggage that comes with the player?

Also arsenal’s main rivals for Suarez would appear to be Real Madrid. Maybe this an attempt to force Real to play their hand and ultimately keep the pressure on the club so they release Higuain to fund a Suarez deal.

Suarez has already hinted that he might be open to a move to London.

So Arsenal fans – what do you think?

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