Arsene Wenger said the other day that he liked to wait until the end of the window before he bid for the players he most wants. But what if other clubs move first? Well Arsene is going to have act quickly if he wants to secure the signing of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Stoppila Sunzu both of whom are apparently on the verge of committing to other clubs.
Long-term target Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who was excellent for Montpelier against Arsenal in the Champions League, is apparently on his way to Newcastle with the club having agreed a £6.7m fee for the French international defender.
The Daily Mirror is suggesting that Wenger will offer the player the chance to play at The Emirates and will trump the Toon’s bid. What would make Yanga-Mbiwa such great value is that he can play as a central defender, but also a right back. If, as is possible, Bacary Sagna leaves the club in the summer then he would offer competition to Carl Jenkinson while replacing Johan Djorou as a reserve centre back.
If that deals doesn’t happen then Arsene might prefer to look again at one of the first tranfers targets of the window Zambia’s Stoppila Sunzu. The Mirror reports that although a deal with Reading appears almost done, Arsene Wenger may re-activate his interst in the defender, who is on AFCON duty, who could be picked up for less than £4 million.
Finally The Mail suggests that Arsenal have been offered Lyon’s midfield playmaker Yoann Gourcuff on loan. Gourcuff has been on Wenger’s radar for a long while, but it could be argued is too similar to many players that Arsenal already have in their squad. He has also endured a difficult twelve months dogged by injuries and poor form.
Ok, so he still hasn’t actually ‘signed da ting’, but the BBC at least is confident that Theo Walcott is about to splash the ink on a new deal at Arsenal. It even suggests it could be done today.
“Agreements have now been reached between Arsenal and their top scorer, who could put pen to paper on Friday if legal formalities can be completed.”
So there’s no source and no details, but the BBC don’t tend to run stories like this unless they are very confident in their facts.
Arsene Wenger said yesterday that he was 99% sure that Walcott would agree a new deal.
Slightly disappointing news for Gunners fan comes from Goal.com which claims that Arsenal target Wilfried Zaha is on the verge of becoming a Man United player. Apparently The Reds have bid £6 million for the winger.
United made the first formal move on Thursday for the forward, who has privately told the Premier League leaders that he favours a move to Old Trafford ahead of the Gunners.
Palace have rejected United’s cash offer as they hold out for a higher fee and will wait to see if Arsenal will also make a bid.
It will be interesting to see if Wenger now makes his move.
It has been a busy day for Arsenal transfer rumors and this time the source of them is none other than the manager himself with his praise for both Wilfried Zaha, and tantalisingly for Gunners fans, Edinson Cavani. There is however one rumour that won’t go away and that does appear to make a huge amount of sense and that is that Arsene Wenger is looking to add West Ham’s Mohamed Diame to his midfield.
Last night’s victory over Swansea was great for the team, but in some ways it raised more questions than answers. Ignoring the obvious ones like trying to accommodate Theo Walcott in his favoured forward role I am instead going to look at how Jack Wilshere was able to put in such a commanding display yesterday. If you didn’t see it Wilshere put in his best performance since his return from injury. He was a colossus in the midfield pushing the team forward, creating chances for Giroud and Walcott and ultimately scoring the wining goal himself.
One of the reasons I think that he was able to play in a more Steven Gerrard-like way for the Gunners was that the midfield had at its heart a pair of players who have strong defensive qualities. Francis Coquelin was resolute in front of the back four and he was ably supported by Abou Diaby who, while happy pushing forward from time to time, spent a lot of time in the centre of the park mopping up Swansea’s attacks and trying to find both Wilshere and Cazorla.
The dilemma for Wenger is this. As brilliant as Diaby can be he is never going to play more than 20 games a season for the side. And as for Coquelin, I am not sure that Wenger is convinced that he has the strength or the talent to play that role week in week out for the team. Normally his place would be taken by Arteta, who has at times been sublime for the Gunners in the past seventeen or so months with his metronomic passing skills. Arteta is by no stretch of the imagination a defensive midfielder in the mould of the man who he replaced Alex Song. And while he may be the answer for some games, he certainly isn’t the right player for every game.
Nope if Wenger is going to shape his team around Wilshere playing in the hole and Cazorla, who can play anywhere in the middle of the park, then he needs a midfield enforcer to allow his talented players the freedom to attack. And last night in the game between West Ham and Man United Wenger would have been reminded what a great fit Mohamed Diame would be for his side. He was tough in the tackle and solid at the back, yet when given the chance to push forward he took players on and set up chances. He just seems to have that physical presence that Arsenal, with its smaller players seem to be lacking.
For me Diame is a slightly more defensively minded version of Diaby, minus the dodgy ankle, and his versatility would be a key ingredient for the Gunners. Put it this way opposing teams would never know what type of Arsenal midfield they were dealing with and that unpredictability would cause opposition managers real headaches.
Of course fancying a player and then getting him to sign on the dotted line is a long and troublesome process. Diame appears happy at West Ham. And even though he would come comparatively cheaply – a fee of around £7 million might be enough to prise him from the Hammers – the player himself might prefer what is shaping up to be an interesting future in East London rather than heading northwards.
Arsenal have been associated with a long line of combative midfielders in the window and I guess had M’Vila not had his moments of madness he might have been an Arsenal player by now.
Ultimately the arrival of a super star striker like Cavani, might be the catalyst that changes Arsenal’s season. However from a tactical point of view signing Diame might have a huge impact.
In a move sure to massively excite Arsenal fans Arsène Wenger has confirmed his interest in the 25 year old Uruguayan Napoli striker Edinson Cavani – a player who ticks both the marquee signing and RVP replacement boxes.
When asked about the player who has been in scintillating form for Napoli in Serie A this season scoring 16 goals (one less than RVP) Wenger replied
“Cavani is a player that I like. Will he cost a lot of money? That’s for sure. Nobody would deny that. [But] our banker lives just next to me at the moment and he is ready if we find the right player.”
A fee of around £30 million has been rumoured.
Wenger also gave an update on possible Arsenal movements for Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.
“We are looking at him, but at the moment we have not made any bid for him. I don’t know if Manchester United are in for him. Anyway, if you call any club for any player, they will tell you Man Utd, Milan, Real Madrid are as well in for him, but it is always difficult to know if it is true or not.”
Wenger also told Arsenal fans to be patient as he looks to make his signings at the end of the window.
“The prices always go up at the start of the transfer market and go down in the last week. Sometimes as well they go up in the last week, but it depends. Most of the time they go down in the last week and you know as well that 90% of transfer activity happens in the last week, if not in the last 48 hours.”
So one of the longest running contract stands offs in British football appears finally to be coming to a conclusion. And it good news for Arsenal fans
At a press conference this morning Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that he is “99%” confident that Theo Walcott will sign a new contract at the club. The Arsenal manager also said that he hopes the deal can be finalised by this weekend before the team’s big London derby with Chelsea,.
The actual quote from Wenger, which has also been reported by the BBC, was “My optimism is at 99% now. I was scared that he could leave.
“It took us some time to get where we want to get and it’s still not finalised, but hopefully it will be done by this weekend.”
Wenger now has just over two weeks to add players to the squad.
There isn’t a huge amount of Arsenal news this morning, but a couple of papers seem to have picked up on a story originally posted by London’s Evening Standard that Theo Walcott’s contract is with his lawyers and is waiting to be signed.
The paper reports
The contract is in the hands of lawyers and, although the exact structure of the deal is yet to be finalised, it is believed the total package is worth in the region of £20million, which includes a seven-figure signing-on fee.
It is thought Walcott could earn as much as £100,000 a week, including bonuses and other performance-related incentives.
Interestingly the paper believes that there’s no mention in the contract of Walcott playing upfront as a striker. Last night Walcott seemed to alternate between playing on the wing and moving through the middle alongside Olivier Giroud. He might not have scored but the player created a lot of chances.
Asked about the Walcott situation and new signings Wenger said
“We are working very hard. First of all we want to sort out the injuries and we are trying very hard to close the deal with Walcott. Once we have done that, we will certainly do something else. At the moment I cannot tell you more.”
In today’s add one and one and make five Fanatix is suggesting that Real Madrid’s Kaka is an Arsenal target. It bases this on the view that Wenger is considering buying an experienced player and was considering Villa etc. It then links to a report in the Spanish paper El Economista that says Madrid are desperate to get rid of Kaka in a bid to reduce their wage bill. Apparently he could be available on a free transfer.
Lastly The Mail says that Man United are going to make the first move in the battle to sign Wilfried Zaha in presenting Palace with a £6 million offer for the winger. The paper says
The Barclays Premier League leaders are confident they are the only serious contenders to sign Zaha this month and are using that belief to drive the price down.
First up some good news for Gunners fans, Mikkel Arteta’s injury isn’t as bad as initially feared and he could be back in action in two weeks, maybe even in time for the crucial Premiership game against Liverpool on January 30th.
Arsenal do keep getting linked with midfielders though and the latest one who the club are allegedly mulling over is long term target Yoann Gourcuff.
Wenger made a move for the player in 2009, but was put off by his £20 million price tag. A few years on and the player has been peripheral to his current club Lyon this year, his progress dogged by injuries and off field problems.
So if Wenger fancies bringing him to The Emirates he could be available for as little as £3 million. Arsenal are also reported by a couple of papers to be still tracking West Ham’s Mohamed Diame and Étienne Capoue from Toulouse. Gourcuff might have missed his chance though as he is a creative midfielder more akin to the likes of Santi Cazorla or Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal arguably need a tough tackling box to box player.
Several papers are reporting that Wenger is still interested in Inter’s veteran Argentinian striker Diego Milito. Signing the 33 year old seems an unlikely move, but then again so did Arsenal’s interest in Barcelona’s David Villa. Milito has scored eight times this season.
Oh Arsene – you are such a tease! On a comparatively quiet day for Arsenal transfer gossip we suddenly get this from the man himself.
Wenger has been talking to Al Jazeera Sport and in an interview which was conducted prior to the City game, and has been broadcast by Talk Sport today, he maintains that he will “spend big” again but continue to look to build the core of the team from within.
Tantalisingly for Arsenal fans Wenger even mentions the number of players he would like to sign.
“My plan is to keep all of the players we have and then to add maybe, if possible, two new players to the squad. We will spend big (again) because we had restricted finances because we had built the stadium and had to pay that back.”
So who will those two players be then? The clever money is on a midfielder and a striker with Adrian Lopez, Yoann Gourcuff, Wilfried Zaha and Etienne Capoue the hottest names for now. Earlier today Arsenal were linked with West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame, but Hammers boss Sam Allardyce says he hasn’t had a call from the Arsenal boss.
Referring to the way in which he managed the team during Arsenal’s lean financial years – when they were paying for the stadium – Wenger said
“We stayed at the top level, yes without winning the Premier League, but we were always at the top level. Now we have come out in a much stronger position financial again, so we can spend. But our way is a bit like Barcelona as well, to produce the core of the team from inside and add from outside the players who give really a plus.”
So will Arsene sign two players? And if so are two players enough to ensure Champions League football at The Emirates next season?
With Mikkel Arteta out for three weeks Arsenal have been linked with a few defensively minded midfielders. Yann M’Vila and Étienne Capoue have both been mentioned in dispatches but one possible solution that The Sun is touting this morning is West Ham’s Mohamed Diame.
The player has been linked with Arsenal before and now it seems that the Gunners are considering a quick move for the 25 year old Senegalese star.
There are a few questions over the player’s fitness in that he tore a hamstring last month. Diame was however an an unused sub in Saturday’s game with Sunderland and he is expected to start in the FA Cup replay at Manchester United on Wednesday.
He could be picked up relatively cheaply at around £3.5 million.
Meanwhile the same paper is reporting that previous Arsenal target Yann M’Vila will sign for QPR today for a fee of around £7 million.
The extended saga of the transfer of Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace to a Premiership club seems finally to be heading for a conclusion. According to Goal, both Man United and Arsenal will have talks with the player (Sky Sports News is also running the story) and that ‘Zaha’s destination is “50-50″ between United and Arsenal, with the final decision to rest with the player himself.’
That might prove to be good news for Arsenal, given that Zaha is a fan of the club. However Palace manager Ian Holloway is reputedly keen to keep Zaha on loan for the rest of the season as his side pushes for promotion to the Premiership. Alex Ferguson is said to be happy with this arrangement, but Arsene Wenger, aware of his the lack of depth in his squad, would want Zaha immediately.
Zaha’s decision might also come down to money. Again this favours United as Ferguson has consistently spent big on players that he deems to be essential. Meanwhile Wenger’s cut price offers have seen him lose players to other clubs in the recent past most notably Gary Cahill and Juan Mata who both ended up at Stamford Bridge rather than The Emirates.
The bidding is likely to start at around £10 million.
Well Arsenal fans, it was nice to dream, but it seems pretty definite now that Barca’s David Villa will not be joining the club in the transfer window. According to Goal Wenger had a team ready to jet off to Spain this weekend, but they have put their passports away for now.
The player is understood to be quite keen on a move to The Emirates, so maybe Wenger will be back for the striker in the summer. Shame as he would have been a brilliant loan signing.
Assuming that Arsenal do still buy a striker in the window – and it is by no means certain given recent pronouncements from the manager – the favourite would now appear to be Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez. One of the reasons why Lopez is so attractive is that he is a versatile player who can start anywhere in the front three. His striking skills would provide serious competition to Walcott and Giroud at The Emirates as well as putting pressure on Gervinho. Hopefully it would mean the end of Ramsey’s days as a winger too. Last season Lopez scored 19 goals in every competition.
He is not the marquee signing that Arsenal fans are calling for, but he might prove to be an excellent addition to the squad.
Lopez has a £14.7m release clause in his contract, but Wenger hopes that the striker, who has appeared only a small number of times for the Madrid side this season, will put pressure on his club to see the move through.
Goal.com reckons that the club will start off with a bid of £10 million, but £12 million would be enough to prise the player from Atletico.
Interestingly Lopez secured his place in the Atletico team at the expense of another player who is very familiar to Arsenal fans – José Antonio Reyes.
So is this a smart move for Arsenal? Or will it end in tears like the Reyes signing? Tell us in the comments.
At face value Sunday was not a good day at the office for Arsene Wenger’s men. A 2-0 home defeat to a team who last won away against them in 1975, to say nothing of lost points in the race for fourth place.
However, call me an eternal optimist, but there were some positive points that I think Arsenal can take from the game against Man City.
1 Wilshere is back to his best – His performance yesterday was sensational. His movement both on and off the ball was superb and much of his passing exquisite. On countless occasions he took the ball turned and glided past City players, many of whom could do nothing but resort to knocking him over. Sure there was that awful moment when he got caught on his ankle, but he is obviously pretty resilient again. If Wilshere gets injured Arsenal’s season will be over. He is their best player at the moment by a country mile.
2 Flashes of form from Ramsey – The jury is out on Abou Diaby’s comeback yesterday. His passing was sloppy and he lacked match sharpness. However for Arsenal fans just seeing him get though a game while occasionally showing signs of his genius- those times when he moves forward and the ball just sticks to his foot – is probably enough for now. The irony is that it was the player who replaced him almost got Arsenal back into the game. Ramsey had his best half hour for the club in ages. His passing was inspired and there were many times when he shielded the ball in difficult situations when there was no one to pass to .The vision which delivered that ball to Walcott where the England player’ shot was cleared off the line was vintage Ramsey. If he can only keep this form up he could prove to be vital to the Gunners as the season progresses.
3 Wojciech Szczęsny looked sharp - Ok, so his distribution wasn’t what it should have been at times, but Arsenal’s Polish goalkeeper must have heard the rumours about possible signings. He could hardly be blamed for either goal and when called on made a series of decent saves. In an indifferent season this was one of his better games.
4 The Emirates really got behind their team – With the side down to 10 men and 2-0 down it could have all gone a bit flat. But at times the atmosphere in the stadium was electric, and the players responded to that passion.
5 The Arteta injury will surely force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market - The Spaniard is out for three weeks now. Diaby is not strong enough to play ninety minutes – and if he does who knows what shape he will be in at the end of it? And Arsenal have a big run of season-shaping fixtures. Surely Wenger will strengthen Arsenal’s midfield. Has that Yann M’Villa signed for anyone yet?
Arsenal are in need of striker, Inter Milan need to slice their wage bill and lose a few senior players. Betting company Ladbrokes have added one and one and made 33 – because that is the age of Arsenal’s alleged new target Diego Milito.
The veteran Argentinian striker hasn’t had much of a look in in Milan recently and could be available in a cheap deal. There’s no denying the player’s quality – he’s bagged almost a goal every two games across his career. But is Wenger really going to sign a 33 year old?
Sounds ludicrous until you think that Arsene considered signing a 35 year old in Thierry Henry and also brought Sol Campbell back to the club aged 35. Milito would bring some serious experience to The Emirates and he is a player who has among other things won the Italian treble – which Inter secured in 2011 and Milito played a major role in.
Milito could in theory be added to the squad without upsetting the current pair of striker Walcott and Giroud.
Meanwhile Wenger has also been talking about how expects Cesc Fabregas to return to Arsenal at some point.
‘I’m not convinced Fabregas won’t come back here one day. He’s an Arsenal man. He loves Arsenal. He watches every Arsenal game. Barcelona was his home town where he grew up and you have to accept this, especially as Barcelona are the best team in the world. He won’t return in the next two or three years but, after that, maybe.’
Finally The Mirror reveals that one of the main problems in finishing the deal with Theo Walcott has been the length of time the player wants to commit to. Apparently the player only wants a three and half year deal which means that in eighteen months they would have to consider starting new contract talks. The club want to tie him down for four and half years.
Arsenal’s quest to sign a new striker continues and this morning sees several old names thrown back into the to mix.
The one that seems to have the most momentum is a loan deal for Real Madrid’s youngster Alvaro Morata. The player has been on Arsene Wenger’s radar for a while (he was a target last summer apparently) and he doesn’t seem to be getting too many games at the Bernabeau. The 20 year old did however score for Real at the weekend against Levante. Here he is in action.
A couple of websites are also mentioning PSG’s out of favour Argentinian striker Ezequiel Iván Lavezzi. Again Wenger has tried to sign the player before. He might stand a better chance now given his poor form at Paris St Germain, he has only bagged two goals this season. The tricky part is likely to be the fee with PSG keen on recouping as much of the £24 million they paid Napoli as possible.
Finally a slew of clubs from QPR to Newcastle wanting to secure the services of Rennes’ combative midfielder Yann M’Villa. However there is no word from The Emirates on long term Arsenal target. The Mail thinks that he will be bound for Loftus Road.
So does Arsene still know? After seven trophy-less seasons and the exodus of many of the team’s highest profile players many Gunners fans aren’t so sure.
The Daily Mirror reports that a group of Arsenal fans think it is time for Wenger to change his approach or leave the club. In fact nearly 50% of them want him to go now.
The survey was undertaken by the Black Scarf Movement who have been active in the last few months in expressing their dissatisfaction with both the board and the manager, so those figures, while not too shocking, are actually probably fairly unrepresentative of Arsenal supporters as a whole.
Raj Patel, of the group told the Mirror: “We are not an anti-Wenger group, but we are responsible for what our fans want and what they are thinking.
“The overwhelming thing for us is that the percentage of fans who want a change of board is in the 90s and the same goes for those who want [share-holder] Alisher Usmanov to have a place on the board.
“Our members, from this survey, clearly feel that the current board is achieving financial stability without being able to compete on the pitch – football is all about what you do on the pitch.”
Even if they aren’t necessarily paid up of members of the ‘Arsene Go’ club there is clearly a huge amount of dissatisfaction among the fan at the way the club is being run.
As an Arsenal fan at the moment I see a club lurching from crisis to another with a manager who has a nasty habit of saying things that enrage the Arsenal fans.
Van Persie slip
The latest slip is in The Sun and concerns the incredible form of the Emirates’ favourite Robin Van Persie.
“It is painful to see Manchester United so far in front of us.”
“You know when you sell Robin van Persie to United that will be the case. He is one of the best strikers in the world and you know he will score goals. He got 30 for us in the league last year.”
These sound like the words of a man who had nothing to do with the sale of the player six months ago to one of Arsenal’s direct rivals. Had Arsenal held Van Persie to his contract, or sold the player to a club out side the Premiership then United would not be that far ahead of Arsenal. Of course the club would be £22 million worse off but…
Also painful is the protracted contract negotiations with Theo Walcott. I know these things can take time, but the team really should have had this wrapped up prior to the transfer window. If Walcott does decide to leave then Arsenal will need some reinforcements and quick and a last minute scramble – like the undignified mess of August 2011 – would be a nightmare.
Then there’s the lack of activity in the transfer market. Arsenal have a fixture run in January which is going to stretch their resources, and yet while our rivals have strengthened their squads, Arsenal seem a long way away from buying the striker, defensive midfielder and left back they so desperately need.
To cap it all The Sun has a story about how the Arsenal 2013 diary features one Robin Van Persie. Ok it is a small thing, but it seems to reflect the chaos that engulfing the club.
Things may be calm and ordered at The Emirates and we might even go on to finish third and scrape a trophy or two (but I don’t really believe that either), but that isn’t the impression of the way things are the moment.
Personally I think, along with probably the majority of Arsenal fans, that Arsene has half a season to sort things out. If Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League at the very least, then it might be time to have a re-think, and that may or may not include Arsene at the helm.