Saturday, June 25, 2011

Arsenal FC: Why Signing Gervinho Could Mean Theo Walcott as Centre Forward

Arsene Wenger is an immensely respected manager in the world of football but his side's recent failure to end the long trophy drought has meant that the French tactician has come under immense pressure from a lot of critics. The long serving Arsenal manager will have to ensure that his team can overcome the several challenges in the next season and end their trophy drought.

Wenger is certainly going to be busy in the summer finalizing the deals of some of his transfer targets and also he will have to persuade his best players to stay at the club and help them fight for trophies next season. Samir Nasri has not signed a new contract with Arsenal and it has been a matter of concern for the club as he has only one more year left on his deal and should he not sign, the Gunners might sell him in order to bolster their transfer budget.

According to the Telegraph, Nasri and his representatives are willing to negotiate with Arsenal over a new deal and Wenger will do everything possible to persuade him to pen a new contract with the Gunners. Also, Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a return to Barcelona but unless the Blaugrana meet Arsenal's valuation of the Spanish International, it is unlikely that they can agree a deal.

On the brighter side of things for the Gunners, it does seem like Arsenal will be active in this summer with the Mirror reporting that Arsenal are close to signing Velez Sarsfield's Ricky Alvarez, Lille's Gervinho and Southampton's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It is interesting that the Gunners have been linked with three wingers especially if Fabregas and Nasri stay at the club.

It is quite possible that Arsene Wenger could alter the formation for the next season in some games though it is probable that some variation of the 4-3-3 formation will be predominantly used in the next season as well. According to the Mirror, Gervinho is on the brink of signing for Arsenal and it is probable that he will be used on the right wing which means he will probably take Walcott's place in the team.

However, it could be that Wenger has different plans for Walcott this season and he could be used in the role of a centre forward which he has played in some games in the past. It is probable that Wenger used him on the right wing in order to develop Walcott, who has a lot of potential. Walcott relied too much on his speed early in his career and some aspects of his  game had to be worked on.

Despite playing as a winger for most of his Arsenal career, the England International has never been regarded as a complete winger because of his inaccuracy in crossing and he also does not tend to dribble past his man to whip crosses into the box. But he has shown that he is more suited to a central role on a number of occasions.

It must be remembered that Arsenal legend Thierry Henry started as a winger due to Arsene Wenger and it was the French tactician who later used him as a striker where he became one of the best in the world. Similarly, Robin van Persie was also initially used as a winger before converting him to a centre forward where the Dutchman has been prolific.

Theo Walcott is only 21 years old and has a long and bright career ahead of him which is why it is important that he improved his game at this stage of his career. Wenger is known to have faith in the winger's ability and it is unlikely that the manager will look to sign other wingers quite similar to him, who will block his opportunities.

At Arsenal, Walcott will have to fight for a place in the starting 11 which is important for the team considering that competition always gets the best out of players. In the 2009-10 season, he sustained a number of injuries and missed a number of games. However, even when he played in some games, he did not seem to be comfortable and had a season to forget.

He was dropped by England manager Fabio Capello for the World Cup and it proved to be a blessing in disguise for the winger as he had a complete pre-season to work on his weaknesses and also stay away from the limelight. Walcott started the season on a bright note as he scored against Blackpool and Blackburn with neat strikes but was unfortunate to be injured early in the season.

However, he was able to fight for his place after recovering from the injury and did manage to start games regularly for Arsenal due to the inconsistent performances of Andrei Arshavin . He finished the season with a clinical strike against Fulham and ended the season with 13 goals and 10 assists which means he has been effectively involved in 23 goals, which is much more compared to his previous best of 12 in the 2007-08 season.

The main reason for this improvement from Walcott has been that he has worked on his game in the last summer and aspects like crossing and finishing have been better than the previous seasons. However, one of the major factors involved in his better statistics is that he has drifted more to the centre when there is an opportunity to do so and it presents a problem to the defenders because of his immense speed.

It can be observed that his positioning is better and his anticipation has improved this season as can be seen from many of his goals this season. In the game against West Ham, he provided a decent cross for Van Persie for the first goal but it is the second goal which provides the reason why Walcott has improved.

Van Persie drifted to the left and hit a low cross and Theo Walcott was in the centre waiting to finish the opportunity with the left foot. It clearly showed that the duo had developed a good understanding and also, that Walcott's predatory instinct could be better utilized in a more central role. His goals against Tottenham and Newcastle also showed that he can utilize his pace to great effect in a central role.

Gervinho is a player who has a lot of pace and makes good runs behind the defence. Arsenal will have to spend big money on the Lille winger if they sign the Ivory Coast International, he will probably be utilized on the right flank where he played for Lille. The strong African winger is a player who will bring in a lot of pace and quality to the team and will be an useful addition.

However, Wenger could have planned to use Walcott upfront which is why he is interested in signing Gervinho to play on the right flank. Javier Hernandez was a great success for Manchester United in the previous season and his major assets are clinical finishing and excellent movement and anticipation. Walcott has developed into a better player than he was on the wing but as a winger, he has not been able to showcase his potential because of his inability to be precise with his crossing and he has been unable to get into dangerous positions as often as he would have liked to.

When Walcott plays for the team, the Gunners undoubtedly play with more pace and their counter-attacking has more threat when the England winger plays. Gervinho is also an intelligent player and will also bring in a lot of quality to the side which means Walcott could be used in a central role more often in the next season.

Van Persie seems to have developed a good understanding with Walcott as the England winger has been instrumental in several of the Dutchman's goals. If Cesc Fabregas is injured due to injury, it is quite possible that Van Persie will play just behind the striker and Walcott could be an ideal striker n front of the Dutchman because they have different attributes which makes it harder for the defenders.

Though there are many critics who still criticize Walcott's lack of end product, it is important to note that he has excellent statistics for a winger, who missed a number of games this season due to injuries. Also at the age of 21, he still has a lot of years at the top level and will only continue to improve under the tutelage of Wenger.

It must be remember that Thierry Henry was not known for his finishing before he joined Arsenal and only at the age of 22 did Wenger convert him to a striker. It is likely that Wenger expects Walcott to cope with physicality better with age and with Walcott currently 21 years old and with five full seasons under his belt, the next season could be the one where Wenger utilizes Walcott in a more central role and Gervinho could be the one who could replace him on the right flank.


If interested, please read my article on Arsenal Prospects: The Pros and Cons of signing Gervinho

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lionel Messi Should Learn from Ronaldinho's Slump and Emulate Sachin Tendulkar

The title might seem absurd, considering that it is impossible to compare a footballing genius with a great from another one.Lionel Messi and Sachin Tendulkar are two geniuses on their own right, one reaching the peak of his prowess and another one riding into the twilight on a high note. In this article, I wish to elaborate on the headline and why Messi needs to emulate Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar to be a footballing great in the history of the game.

Messi emerged through the Barcelona Academy as a teenager who had immense potential. He has been one of the stars of Barcelona ever since he played for the Spanish club. After the departure of the impressive Ronaldinho, Messi has taken over the mantle and been impressive. He has broken a number of records at such a young age and has taken the world by storm.

The emergence of Messi is not too different from a boy from Mumbai who debuted for India as a baby-faced 16-year-old. Tendulkar was blessed with immense talent.From the moment he played for India, he has been touted as the next best player after the legendary Sir Donald Bradman. He started strongly in his early days and stood up to fearsome bowlers of oppositions like Waqar Younis and Curtly Ambrose.

Tendulkar and Messi have been blessed with talent that separates them from the rest. Of course, there are a number of people who might argue that Cristiano Ronaldo is better than the Argentine in some respects.
But then again, for every Tendulkar, there is a Brian Charles Lara who was also immensely talented and it was inevitable that Tendulkar would be compared to Lara by most cricket supporters and the media.



Ronaldinho: The Fall of a Genius

Ronaldinho was a genius in his own right and is probably one of the most talented players ever in the history of football. The cheerful Brazilian could create things on his own and was impossible to stop when he got going. But Ronaldinho had a very short span of time when he dominated world football, and has not been the same since he won many individual awards with Barcelona, helping them to win various trophies before he left the Spanish giants in 2008.


The Brazilian playmaker was a fantastic player. He still has the creativity to make an impact on a game. But he has grossly underutilized his potential. He is not a footballing great because of his other activities, which had a drastic impact on his game. His love for the game did not last long enough, and that was the reason for his downfall.

Sachin Tendulkar: The Legend's Love and Respect for the Game

I do not know how many of you are aware of Sachin Tendulkar's records. But in a nutshell, it would be difficult to find any statistical recordrelating to batsmanship in cricket (barring T-20s)which does not have the name Sachin Tendulkar inscribed at the top of the list.

Tendulkar emerged as one of the stalwarts of Cricket within few years of his senior debut. He had to shoulder the burden the expectations of one billion supporters on his young shoulders. He was criticised heavily for every bad performance. It was his displays which more or less decided the outcome of the game.

It was not too dissimilar to the way Argentina depended on Messi's performances to clinch them the World Championship. Even though he was good, the entire team could not be successful because they did not have a good enough team and their manager's Diego Maradona's tactics was criticised.

But Tendulkar is as humble a sportsperson that you would ever come across. His love for the game never dwindled despite the unwarranted scrutiny and he waited for around 20 years before he finally lifted the World Championship in his hometown.

He has continued to perform to the maximum of his abilities and it was not surprising to see him break one record after another. He is currently 37 years old, but is one of the most consistent batsmen in the world. He admits that his love and respect for his country and the game drives him to be at his best every single time he takes the field.

He is a true model for every youngster who possesses remarkable potential in any field. It is often pointed out that Messi cannot be a leader in the side and that quality is not that of a great. Tendulkar was not a good captain by any standards, but it is universally accepted that he is one of the best players ever to have graced the planet.

Lionel Messi: Can He Become a Legend in the Future?

Lionel Messi has shown he has the brilliance to be a footballing legend and follow the footsteps of Diego Maradona and Pele to etch his name alongside these greats. But, he must be confident and be passionate toward the game. The most important thing he should show is respect to the game even after some years down the lane, and that is the key to success for Lionel Messi.

Messi has also shown a lot of humility and he has retained his youthful exuberance ever since he made his professional debut. He must keep his feet on the ground and strive hard to achieve more success in the future years for both FC Barcelona and Argentina.

He has certainly shown that he has the talent and potential to be a legend forever. But he needs to take a leaf out of Tendulkar's book and maintain the love and passion toward football and look forward to enthralling football supporters all over the world with his incredible wizardry.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Signing Patrick Vieira

Arsenal have been linked with a number of players but are yet to announce any official signing barring 19-year old right back Carl Jenkinson from Charlton Athletic. However, it is expected that the Arsenal manager will make some changes in the squad and there will be some players who are expected to leave the club by the start of the next season.

The fixture list was announced on Friday and Arsenal are to face Newcastle(A), Liverpool(H) and Manchester United(A) in their first three Premiership fixtures of the 2011-12 season and also, they will have to play the Champions League qualifiers which could be tricky and further adds to the difficulties that the Gunners face in the opening month of the season.

Arsenal will need to start on a positive note because if they do not start well, they will be under severe criticism from a number of supporters and critics early in the season. This difficult start to the season has an advantage that Arsenal will, hopefully, have a fully fit squad for the start of the season and have been good in the first half of the season in the past.

However, these difficult fixtures in the month of August would mean that Arsene Wenger would have to make his moves early in the transfer market because it is important that the new players are accustomed to Arsenal's style of play and also, they have a good pre-season with their team mates. With this tough fixture list at the start of the season, it is probable that Wenger will try to finalize his dealings before the end of July.

The Gunners will need enough depth in order to challenge for different competitions in the season and will look to reinforce the squad which did do well until their spectacular collapse towards the end of the season. Though Arsenal are financially capable of spending good money on the market, they lack the financial strength of Manchester City or Chelsea and Arsene Wenger will probably look for value in the market and even look for free agents, who can be of good value.

The Premiership clubs have submitted their lists of players who will be free agents in the summer and one player in that category, who will interest a number of Arsenal supporters, is former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira. He was released by Manchester City, though they could offer him a new contract in the summer.

Vieira was predominantly used as a substitute in a team which had the likes of Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Yaya Toure who are all capable of playing in defensive midfield. Arsenal had been linked with the former France International in a coaching capacity and could be interested in acquiring the services of the midfielder either as a coach or as a player/coach who could give experience to the team.

In this article, the advantages and disadvantages of signing Patrick Vieira as a player/coach is discussed.

Advantages

There was a certain amount of speculation regarding the immediate future of Pat Rice as assistant to Arsene Wenger but later, the French tactician confirmed that Rice will continue at the Emirates as his assistant for the 2011-12 season. Wenger and Rice share an excellent relationship and if Rice does retire, it will be important to bring in someone who will understand the club and also work positively with the manager.

Patrick Vieira has worked with Wenger in the past and shares a good rapport with the manager. He is currently 35 years old and could retire in the near future. The combative midfielder has played in a number of Cup games for City and also as a substitute in many league games as well. It is evident that he is clearly past his peak but he can do a decent job against lesser oppositions.

Arsenal do not have depth in the defensive midfield role with Alex Song virtually having no competition or replacement. However, the Cameroon International has developed at a good pace in the last few years and has established himself as a regular for the Gunners. However, playing a number of games without rotation seems to hurt him as he has had muscle injuries/strains in the last two seasons around the month of April.

The main problem which has been cited by most supporters is not the lack of talent or even the poor defending; it has been the fact that their mentality has been poor in many games and their desire to win and leadership was absent on the pitch. The Gunners have frittered away their leads in a number of games and need to bring in more experienced players, who can guide these young talented players.

Vieira is a natural leader and youngsters will look up to him for advice and he can create a positive atmosphere in the dressing room. Mario Balotelli, who has been criticised for a number of immature actons, has admitted that Vieira is one of the few players he listens to in Manchester City and the stature of the midfielder is certain to help youngsters cope with criticism and other comments.

Also, the Frenchman can be brought on for the last half hour of a game if the Gunners are in the lead because he can help them in keeping their cool and finishing the job. He is an experienced player, who has won trophies in the past and also, shares a good rapport with the fans, who will welcome him to the Emirates.

Disadvantages

Though he is a free agent, the Gunners will most certainly not be able to match the sky-high wages he earned in Manchester City or compete in terms of wages if City offer him a new contract. Arsene Wenger is a manager who will spash the cash only if absolutely necessary and on the footballing side, it does not make sense to offer a six figure salary per week to a player who is nearing the end of his illustrious career.

If Wenger is convinced that Vieira still has some years left in him, then he is likely to offer a one year contract with modest wages in addition to decent wages as a member of the coaching staff, who can take over from Rice when he retires. The Frenchman could also be offered a role in coaching capacity by Manchester City under Roberto Mancini and it is probable that the wages they offer could far exceed that offered by the Gunners.

However, Vieira shares an excellent rapport with Wenger and Arsenal is the club where he enjoyed the best part of his career and also, won trophies with the club. As a player, it depends on how physically and mentally fit Vieira is because age is catching up with the member of the legendary "Invincible" team and Wenger will make a judgement as to whether he can still be of use in a bit part playing role for the Gunners.

Though most supporters would be glad to welcome Vieira back in a player-coach capacity, wages could be an issue and another one is the requirement of only 25 players in the squad including 8 homegrown players. If Nicklas Bendtner, Gael Clichy and Denilson leave the club, then it could mean that the Gunners might have to include some of their youngsters to meet the requirement.

Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Carlos Vela, who were named amongst the youngsters, would have to be named in the 25 man squad and space would have to be accomodated for the new transfers as well. This means that Patrick Vieira would be consuming an important place in the non-homegrown players in the list of 25 players.

The idealistic situation for Arsenal is to sign Vieira as a coaching staff for the Gunners and offer him a contract if there is a place in the 25 man squad. However, it is likely that Vieira will snub such an offer if he gets a player-coach deal at City or another good club. Arsene Wenger will know that there are few players in the world who could bring in leadership and instill strong mentality in the team like Patrick Vieira can do and could look to bring him to the Emirates to help Arsenal win trophies in the next season.



If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Jermain Defoe, Peter Odemwingie, Jan Vertonghen, Radamel Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects and also, you can follow me on Twitter

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Signing Jermain Defoe

The Gunners have been linked with a number of players and though only young right back Carl Jenkinson has been confirmed as an Arsenal player, they are expected to sign more players in the next few weeks in order to build a team capable of challenging the best teams in the world. Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he will look to strengthen in every position if there are quality players available.

The manager will have to deal with some frustrated players who have not played much this season and some of them like Nicklas Bendtner have expressed the need to move on. If the Danish striker does move on, it is likely that Wenger will look for a striker because Carlos Vela has not yet been able to impress for the Gunners despite having obvious potential.

Gervinho has been linked with the Gunners and is a possible target for Arsene Wenger. However, he is more of a winger having good pace and movement and can run at defenders which can cause problems for the defenders. Though he can play as the centre forward, he is more of a winger and Wenger might have to sign a centre forward in the summer.

Robin van Persie is one of the best strikers in the game and is prolific if he can string a number of games together. He scored 18 goals in the Premiership last season despite opening his account only from January because he missed almost the entire first half of the season. If not for injuries, he will have certainly scored more for the Gunners.

However, he has missed a number of games due to injuries and there is every possibility that he could be injured for some games in the next season as well though Arsenal would have a great chance if he makes around 30-35 league starts in the next season. But Wenger cannot depend on his fitness next season and will need to have quality depth in that position.

Gunners have been linked with a few "marquee" signings in this position like Karim Benzema and Radamel Falcao. One of the most surprising transfer rumours regarding strikers is that Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe is targeted by Arsene Wenger according to the Mirror. This article is on the advantages and disadvantages of signing Defoe for Arsenal.

Advantages

Defoe is a player who has a lot of pace and can create opportunities because of his movement and ability to run at defenders. The England International has proved that he can score regularly in the past though the 2010-11 season was certainly not one to remember for the striker. He is experienced in the Premiership which means he would not take time to adjust.

Though he has been inconsistent in the past, he is a striker who is capable of being prolific if provided with the right service and at Arsenal, he would easily be presented with a lot more opportunities than what he would get at Tottenham or any of his previous clubs. He has good technique and has excellent shooting ability.

The former West Ham striker has been inconsistent but has proven to be a good goalscorer at three different clubs. Though Arsenal's style of play is quite different to that of Tottenham, it is probable that he could have more chances to score goals. Also, he is quite direct in his style of play and will shoot if given an opportunity to do so, which is welcome for Arsenal where a number of players opt to pass inside the box instead of shooting.

If Bendtner does leave the club for around €11 million, then Arsenal might have to spend it on a new striker. Though Spurs will hate to sell to their arch-rivals, if Defoe does hand in a transfer request, they might rather sell than have an unhappy striker in their squad. For the Gunners, it will be difficult to sign a "marquee" signing like Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain though Arsene Wenger is likely to give it a try.

If they cannot meet the valuation of such strikers in the market, it is possible that Wenger will sign a striker like Defoe who will provide decent value to the squad. However, Wenger should plan to invest on a number of quality players in this summer before the financial fair play regulations come into existence and also it is important that they win trophies in order to generate more revenue in the near future.

Disadvantages

Any player who makes the switch from Tottenham to Arsenal or vice-versa is bound to draw a lot of attention and should he not perform well, it is highly likely that he will come under immense scrutiny. Defoe has not been in good form in this season and managed a paltry tally of four league goals in 22 appearances though he was injured for some parts of the season and was not a starter in a number of games.

However, it is clear that he is not in his best form and in all probability, there is no place in the starting eleven for Defoe if he signs for Arsenal. Robin van Persie was in sensational form towards the end of the season and scored 18 league goals despite missing a large chunk of the first half of the season. In the current 4-2-3-1 formation, Van Persie is the favourite to start as the lone striker and has an excellent goals per game ratio as well.

According to the Mirror, Gervinho is set to sign for the Gunners and if signed, he could be accommodated in a striker or a winger role in the starting eleven. If Wenger tinkers the formation and reverts back to the 4-4-2 system, it could mean that Theo Walcott, who has always preferred to play in the centre, might be provided the opportunity to play alongside Van Persie.

The Dutchman and the England International have an excellent understanding and have assisted in goals for both players. Walcott scored 13 goals and assisted 10 more and had his best season in his Arsenal career. He looks to be developing and despite many critics suggesting that he had no footballing brain, he has proved that he can be efficient in the Premiership and will be integral to the Gunners in the near future.

If Jermain Defoe does not get to start matches regularly, then he is bound to be disillusioned at the club which was the problem with Nicklas Bendtner as well. It is important to note that Wenger does want Bendtner to stay at the club but the Dane has been frustrated due to lack of opportunities. Defoe is not likely to displace Van Persie and also, does not prefer playing on the wings which means that he could struggle for playing time.

Also, in the current 4-2-3-1 formation, it is better to have a striker who is decent in the air. Though Van Persie is not excellent in the air, he has presence upfront which is important and employs a style which is suited to his team mates. Chamakh did not have problems with the formation due to his ability to interchange passes with midfielders and bring them into the game.

Defoe is a very different striker to both of them and could struggle as the lone striker because he has not got the presence upfront. He benefits from knockdowns but in Arsenal's style of play, there is hardly anyone who would actually win aerial balls barring Chamakh and it is highly unlikely that the duo will be played together in a 4-4-2 formation.

Also, with Real Madrid linked to both Santos striker Neymar and Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero, there is every possibility that one amongst Gonzalo Higuain or Karim Benzema will leave the club. Arsenal will have a good opportunity to sign a striker of their quality because there are not many clubs in the world who can provide regular Champions League football who are on the lookout for a quality striker and signing any one of the two strikers would certainly show a lot of intent from the club.

It would be a gamble by Arsene Wenger if he does indeed bid for Defoe and chances are that Tottenham are not going to sell to their arch-rivals. However, there are not many clubs who can offer Defoe a chance of European football and also a chance to redeem himself at the highest level. However, with Walcott rapidly improving, it would seem that it is better option to gamble playing him in the centre than spending on Jermain Defoe and if signed, it would mean a lot of unnecessary pressure on the Arsenal manager and the player himself.

If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Peter Odemwingie, Jan Vertonghen, Radamel Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects and also, you can follow me on Twitter
 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Arsenal Transfer News: 5 Reasons Why Arsene Wenger Should Retain Samir Nasri


Arsene Wenger will be under immense pressure in the summer and by all reports, it is likely that this summer will be busy for the Gunners. There are a number of players who could leave the club while some sections of the media report that Arsenal are tracking a number of players in the summer. It is certain that the manager and his team are desperate to end this frustrating trophy drought and he will try to add quality players to the squad.

With Manchester United and Liverpool already active in the transfer market with the signings of Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson respectively, it is important that the Gunners strengthen in this summer. It is certain that Liverpool and Tottenham will try to break into the Champions League spots in the next season, which will make it more competitive next year.

Arsenal's manager should not only ensure that they keep their place in the top four but also challenge for the title and win trophies in the next season. It will be one of the most important seasons in Wenger's Arsenal career and being an intelligent man, he will understand and analyze where his team went wrong in the last season.

It is important to strengthen in the summer but it is even more important to retain the best players of the team for the next season. It is uncertain whether Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Cesc Fabregas will be in an Arsenal jersey next season because they are integral members of this young squad. Nasri, in particular, had an excellent season last year and can progress to reach further heights in the next season.

However, he has only one year on his contract and he has not renewed his deal due to a financial disagreement according to Wenger. He is certainly going to attract various clubs from Europe but his agent has made it clear that the contract negotiations have not stalled and that talks are still ongoing. Here is five reasons why Arsenal should give in to Nasri's demands in order to keep him at the Emirates.

1. Uncertain Future of Cesc Fabregas

Though Fabregas is arguably the best player in the current Arsenal squad, he has always been linked with a move to Barcelona and has not quashed the possibility of moving in the near future. Fabregas has been frustrated by the lack of trophies during his time at Arsenal and Barcelona will try to sign their former youth player.

Samir Nasri is amongst the best talents at Arsenal and it will be a huge blow if he does leave the club. He has shown that he is immensely talented but he will have to be more consistent to be regarded as a world class player. However, if Arsenal does lose him, it could also result in some senior players like Fabregas being unhappy with the club because in the recent past, they have sold a large number of their best players.

Though Nasri staying does not guarantee Fabregas will stay, it ensures that the mood in the camp is optimistic and that the team has a better chance of winning trophies. Also, Nasri's role could be enhanced if Fabregas leaves the club because he is a player who can create goals from nothing. When Fabregas and Van Persie were injured for large parts of the first half of the season, it was the Frenchman who took on the responsibility of scoring goals and ensuring that the Gunners stayed in the title race till the duo returned to fitness.


2. Versatility and Possible Replacement for Fabregas in the Future

Arsenal have had problems with injuries and it has been one of the reasons for Arsenal's six year long trophy drought. However, during the course of the season, every single team in the Premiership will encounter injuries but having quality depth in the side helps to cope with injuries. Versatile players do play an important role in the team because they can cover for another position as well if needed.

Arsenal's Samir Nasri is amongst the most versatile players at the club and can play on both wings, central midfielder and also as a central attacking midfielder. The current squad has Andrei Arshavin, Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott as wingers and all the three are quality players though Arshavin has come under some criticism despite possessing impressive statistics. Nasri can provide quality depth and could be integral to the squad next season.

If Fabregas does leave in the summer, Arsene Wenger could utilize Nasri as the attacking midfielder and ease Ramsey into the role with further appearances from the bench and in the cup ties. Arsenal have been linked with both Gervinho and Hazard and if the Gunners do sign one of the wingers, the manager can choose two wingers from the three.

3. The Best of Nasri is Yet to Come
why Wenger would not want to lose Nasri

Though many supporters feel that Nasri's demands could be unreasonable especially only after half a season of superb performances, it is undeniable that he is amongst the most talented youngsters in the world. At the age of 23, he is set to move to the next stage of his career and it is likely that he will continue to improve.

Also, Nasri has taken his time to adjust to the demands of the Premiership but now, looks accustomed to the pace and the physicality of the league and has had his best season for Arsenal since he joined in 2008. The tricky midfielder was rated as one of the brightest products in the French league at a young age and was touted to be the next "Zizou" by some sections of the media and supporters.

He has also established himself as a starter for the France National team and will look to improve to become a world class player. He has come a long way since he joined Arsenal and it is expected that he will only get better with experience.

4. Ashley Young to be given £130k per week!

According to the Mirror, Ashley Young will be paid a sum of £130k per week if he signs for Manchester United. However, at Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas, who is the highest paid player at the club, is reportedly paid 110k per week. However, Fabregas is arguably more talented and has proven himself to be a world class player. This is not about criticizing the wages earned by other club's footballers; it is about the inflated wages earned by modern day footballers.

Arsenal will soon having to increase the wages of their best players in order to keep them at the Emirates. Though fans expect their club's players to be loyal, it is difficult not to accept a huge pay-rise from a club which is just as ambitious as the current club. Some players are loyal to their clubs like Paul Scholes but there are many who will swap their clubs if they get more wages and a shot at winning trophies like Sol Campbell.

Nasri will demand higher wages to stay at the Emirates and also put pressure on the board and Arsene Wenger to sign players who can help them win trophies. The Board and Arsene Wenger (if he is involved) should take responsibility in allowing this sort of a situation to happen with two of the most important players for Arsenal (Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri). It is time that Arsenal cut down the wages on some of their less important players, sell youngsters who are not going to make it at Arsenal and increase the wages of their best players.

5. Losing Promising Players Will Not Help the Club Move Forward


Arsenal are in the midst of a frustrating trophy drought and it is certainly important to retain the best players at the club. The Gunners are uncertain about the futures of Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas who are very important for the club and also, Ivan Gazidis confirmed that there will be a "turnover" of the squad in the summer at the Q&A session.

The Gunners could not win the title last season and it is important that they build on the positives of the season but if they lose Samir Nasri due to wrangling over contract issues, it will mean that they would have to sign his replacement and it is likely that any possible replacement would take time to adjust at the club.

With the fans frustrated by the lack of trophies, it is important that they win trophies in the next season and losing their best players is not going to help them. Nasri is certainly one of the players who is important to Arsenal in the long term and is one of the few world class talents at the Emirates. Though his demands might seem unreasonable to some, it is important for the club to retain him in order to win trophies because if they do not win trophies, they will have to encounter the exodus of several other players as well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Signing Peter Odemwingie

Arsenal's Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis will be attending the Q&A session today and will face some hard questions regarding the direction in which the club is progressing after enduring six long years of trophy drought. He is going to have a busy summer and will try to finalize deals for some transfer targets along with persuading some key players like Robin van Persie, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri to sign new improved contracts to commit their futures to Arsenal.

With a number of players set to leave the club, it is important that the Gunners can retain their best players. According to the Mirror, it is likely that Samir Nasri will stay at Arsenal while Cesc Fabregas could possibly depart the Emirates. The contract negotiations between Nasri and the club is still ongoing and the Daily Mail reports that Stan Kroenke will open his cheque book to keep Nasri at the Emirates.

There could be a number of players leaving the club and some players like Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson have confirmed that they are looking for a move away from the Emirates. Arsene Wenger is certain to be active on the transfer market this season and will be looking for quality players in this window. However, it is not going to be easy to compete with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and many other clubs.

Arsenal have been linked with a number of players and could target various positions as well in the summer. If Cesc Fabregas does leave in the summer, the Gunners will have to negotiate for a good deal to bring in quality players. According to the Swiss Rambler, a respectable football finance blogger, Arsenal should have a healthy transfer budget which can be used to spend on players and also, the board is likely to grant the money obtained from player sales to the budget.

The Gunners will look to spend money on quality players in the market but Wenger is also likely to look for players who can add quality depth at a bargain. One of the players who suits the bill in that respect in West Brom's Peter Odemwingie who joined the Baggies in 2010 and scored 15 goals in the season. The striker, who will be 30 before the first game of the season, will not cost too much but is proven in the Premiership and has been linked with the Gunners. In this article, the advantages and disadvantages of signing Peter Odemwingie is discussed.

Advantages

Odemwingie was not very well known in England until he joined West Brom but his performances in the 2010-11 season proved that he can be consistent in the Premiership and also, his signing was regarded to be pivotal in the Baggies retaining their top flight status after promotion from the Championship in 2009-10 season. He was signed for an extremely low fee and though they are in the process of contract negotiations, the Nigerian International would prefer to ply his trade in a club playing in the Champions League at this stage in his career.

Though West Brom will not sell him at a cheap price, the player's age and his desire could be important in bringing down their valuation of the striker. Odemwingie is not a world class striker like Karim Benzema or Fernando Torres, but he can certainly provide good depth to the team. Also, he is a very hardworking striker and will link up well with midfielders.

He can also drift wide and pull defenders out of position and though he has not been very prolific throughout his career, he was amongst the top goalscorers in the Premiership this season and proved he can score vital goals. He is also comfortable playing as a winger but is likely to favour playing in the centre.

With Bendtner likely to leave and Vela's uncertainty over his Arsenal future, Odemwingie could provide good depth in the squad and having played in the Premiership for a team that passes well, he will not take time to adjust and can fit into Arsenal's style of play with minimum difficulty especially if he can participate in pre-season. Though his signing is not likely to excite supporters, it is signings like these that could make the difference in the end.

Odemwingie possesses good technique, strength on the ball, movement and can use both his feet for shooting. The West Brom striker could be an interesting addition to the squad and can fill in when players are injured. Though his signing could be viewed as a step backward by some supporters and critics, his experience could be vital for Arsenal.

Disadvantages

Many supporters want to see the Gunners sign a world class striker in this year's transfer window because Van Persie has a tendency to be injured at some point in the season. Also, the Nigerian International has not been prolific throughout his career and though he enjoyed an excellent season at the Hawthorns, he might not get much playing time.


Also, he plays for Nigeria which means that if they do qualify for the African Cup of Nations, then it would mean that Marouane Chamakh and Odemwingie could both miss a lot of games in January and February. Also, he will be 30 by the time he plays in the next season which means that he can only be a stop-gap replacement.

Another fact to consider is that playing for Arsenal as a central striker would mean that he would have to work with tight marking and lesser space when compared when he is playing for West Brom because every Premiership team believe that they can defeat the Baggies if they play to their potential. But that is not the case when teams take on Arsenal as some teams try to remain as compact as possible and even play for a draw.

Arsenal have endured a six year long trophy drought and Wenger has confirmed that this is the year where there will be a lot of transfer activity especially because financial fair play regulations will apply from the next year. Hence, if there is a time to spend, it is this year and fans will be happy if the Frenchman signs a world class striker who can be the future of the club like Karim Benzema.

It will be a tricky summer for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and he will have to make the right signings to put things right for the Gunners. They will have to work within their limited means and their priority must be on improving the defence. In attack, they might need a winger and a striker and also a central midfielder if their talismanic captain leaves the club.

Though signing someone like Odemwingie will not be a sensational swoop for Arsenal, the Gunners will also need to sign some players on a bargain to improve the overall quality of the squad and to cope with injuries which have hampered the Gunners in the past.


If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Jan Vertonghen, Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Arsenal Transfers: To Sell Cesc Fabregas or Not to Sell Him, That Is the Question

There are still around 80 days of transfer madness left in this summer but some Arsenal fans are already negative regarding the transfers for the Gunners in the summer. It is understandable that most fans are frustrated with this six year long trophy drought but if ever Arsene Wenger deserves the trust of the fans, it is at this time of the summer where supporters should place their faith in the long serving Arsenal manager.

"In Arsene, We Trust" has been one of the most frequently used quotes by Arsenal fans in the last decade but many have been disillusioned by the frugal policies of the Frenchman and a section of fans do not want Wenger as the manager for Arsenal. This summer could be crucial for both Wenger and his young team because if they do fail to win anything next season, the backlash could cause some serious problems for the Arsenal board, Arsene Wenger and the current squad.

In this current scenario, it is important that the under-pressure manager can retain the services of his best players. Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy have only one year left on their current deals and Wenger has said that he will not allow the players to run down their contracts like Mathieu Flamini did when he was at Arsenal. In that case, the Gunners potentially face the realistic scenario of selling the two players at a bargain due to their contracts running out.

Wenger is probably one of the most experienced managers in the world and will need all of that in dealing with the current situation this summer. In addition to this, it is no surprise that Barcelona are once again linked with club captain Cesc Fabregas who stayed at the Emirates last season despite a lot of interest from Barcelona.

Fabregas has said in the past that he would like to play for Barcelona someday and his friends Gerard Pique and David Villa have been reported to welcome the arrival of the Arsenal captain. With Nasri and Clichy not yet committing to the Gunners, it is likely that the departure of Fabregas will not help them being motivated about Arsenal's prospects in the 2011-12 season.

Barca-Bound?
Though Fabregas has missed a number of games in the last two seasons due to injuries, he is the most creative player for the Gunners and one of the few world class players in the squad. He is the most important player on the pitch whenever he plays for Arsenal because he sets the tempo of the play and also is more or less bound to create chances even when he is not at his best.

Many supporters feel that Fabregas is going to suffer from his recurring hamstring injuries in the future and that this is the summer where Arsenal can cash in on the Spaniard. Though he has suffered a lot of injuries in the last two seasons, one would have to remember that Wenger is also at blame for this situation regarding Fabregas. The Spaniard has played when not fully fit and some blame must be attached to the manager and his medical team for giving him the green signal to play.

Also, the Spanish midfielder has not had a summer off for the last three seasons and having played a lot for Arsenal over the past few season, it is possible that this could be a primary reason for his injuries. Most of his injuries in the past year or so have been muscular injuries which could happen because of not having had enough rest for his body.

The emergence of Jack Wilshere has taken some pressure off the captain and helped Fabregas move deeper to avoid being marked out of the game and Wilshere has the ability to become one of the world's best midfielders in the near future. However, the young England International looks suited to the deeper role alongside Song than playing in the attacking midfield role.

Aaron Ramsey has recovered completely from his horrific injury and he was originally touted to be the long term Fabregas replacement for Arsenal. Though he is a different player to Fabregas in the sense that he distributes play faster and also his movement off the ball is considerable, he has shown in many games that with time, he can be effective in the advanced midfield role.

However, with the Welsh International only making a handful number of starts for the Gunners this season, it could prove to be a huge gamble if Cesc Fabregas was to go. It is almost impossible to find a proper replacement for the Arsenal captain and many of them could be beyond the reach of the Gunners due to wages or transfer fees.

Wenger will be faced with a tricky problem regarding Cesc Fabregas, a problem for which none can find an answer that satisfies all Arsenal fans. However, the Arsenal manager would have to deal with it in such a way that they have a realistic possibility to win trophies next season which is probably the only way to quell their frustration.

Barcelona have to meet Arsenal's valuation of the player, which is likely to be on the higher side in this inflated transfer market. According to the Mirror, they could offer one of their youth players, Thiago Alcantara along with cash in order to sign Fabregas but Wenger will weigh the pros and cons of any possible deal and will only enter negotiations if the player makes it clear that he would want to move to the Spanish club.

Selling Cesc Fabregas would undoubtedly impact the team in a huge way but making intelligent signings to deal with the departure is the way ahead if Fabregas is to leave for Barcelona. Arsenal will be armed with cash to buy some excellent players should the deal happen and Wenger could alter the formation to a 4-4-1-1 if Fabregas does leave.

However, selling both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the same summer is something which Arsene Wenger would not like to do. It is more likely that he will offer the Frenchman an improved contract if Fabregas does indeed leave for Barcelona because it will be very difficult to replace two quality players in a team in one summer. Though Nasri has incurred the wrath of some Arsenal fans over his contract negotiations, it is undenaible that he is someone who has the quality to make a difference and Wenger will not like to see him leave.

If Fabregas leaves, then Wenger could make a move for a big name signing like Karim Benzema whose future could be in question should Real Madrid sign Sergio Aguero. Wenger has said that a deal is not impossible for Benzema and signing someone of his calibre will provide a much needed boost for Arsenal. However, Wenger will probably make some defensive signings as well in this summer considering that it has been their achilles' heel in the last few seasons.

Fabregas has been frustrated by the lack of trophies at Arsenal and could be interested in a move to his hometown club. Also, Wenger will understand that keeping a player against his wishes, especially if the player is the captain of the team, could backfire and result in negative vibrations in the dressing room.

If Fabregas has his heart set on a move to Barcelona, Wenger should allow the move to happen but negotiate smartly in order to utilize the best possible deal from the Catalan giants. It is preferable that Wenger does not sign any youth players of the Barcelona team including talented youngsters like Thiago Alcantara and Bojan Krkic because the Gunners need established players in their squad and already have many talented players in the squad.

Arsenal will look for a cash only deal as it will allow them to spend on established players as opposed to signing someone like Bojan for whom it could be difficult to adjust to the physicality of the league. With Sergio Aguero's situation not yet clear, there is still a possibility that he will join Real Madrid and in that case, it is likely that Benzema could move if there is a good offer on the table for him.

Though the Gunners' are amongst the elite clubs in the world, they do not have the spending power of Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City, which is why it is important that they make the right deals. Arsene Wenger will try to do what Liverpool did with Fernando Torres in January and look to strengthen with a couple of important signings. With the financial fair play regulations implemented from the next year, this could be the summer which is crucial for the Gunners.

Cesc Fabregas' future remains uncertain but it is more likely to depend on his decision on whether to stay at the club. He is still hugely respected by Arsenal fans and should he move to Barcelona, it must be done quickly in order for Arsenal to have time to sign their targets.


If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Jan Vertonghen, Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Opinions: Why Cesc Fabregas' Future Holds the Key to Arsene Wenger's Summer


Arsenal FC endured a horrendous run towards the end of the season which increased frustration amongst the Gunners' supporters who want the Arsenal manager to spend the money to bring in established players. Arsene Wenger has been notorious for his frugality and some of his recent signings have not gone too well with the fans who are desperate for the Gunners to win trophies soon.

Wenger has probably never had a more tricky summer in his tenure at Arsenal with immense pressure on him to make the right signings for the Gunners and also fight to keep his best players at the club. It is no surprise that Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a move to Barcelona in this summer and there is every possibility it could drag on in the summer.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is likely to be active in the market and was interested in signing youngster Phil Jones before the defender reportedly opted to move to Manchester United. The French tactician has also had to deal with a number of players ready to exit in this summer and has to convince his best players to stay at the club.

There is still some uncertainty regarding Samir Nasri's contract negotiations and he has not ruled out the prospect of joining Manchester United. Though the French midfielder did not have a good second half of the season, he was superb in the first half and is one of the most important players in the current squad. Also, if Nasri does leave the club, then the club will have to bring in a quality replacement.

With clubs below and above Arsenal in the Premiership looking to strengthen in this summer, Arsene Wenger will understand his team's needs and try his best to bring in quality players. However, Arsenal do not have the financial power of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United or for that matter, Liverpool but Wenger is a shrewd negotiator and manager and will look to spend within his transfer budget.

Arsenal's transfer chest is not compared to that of Chelsea or City but according to the Swiss Rambler, a respected football finance blogger, it could be predicted to be more than 40 million for sure. In this inflated transfer market, 40 million will not be able to bring more than two quality players but a number of fringe players like Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson could be on their way and their transfer fees will also be added to the budget.

This is the reason why sorting the future of Cesc Fabregas is a priority for Arsenal because only then will Arsene Wenger be able to understand the needs of the team for the summer. Let us take the two scenarios which is possible in the case of Fabregas.

If Fabregas Departs for Barcelona, What should Wenger do in the Summer?

Though Arsenal fans would like their captain to stay at Arsenal, they will not rule out the possibility of Cesc Fabregas joining his boyhood club in the summer. However, though Fabregas could be allowed to move on by Wenger, it is likely that Barcelona would have to meet Arsenal's valuation of their captain. Though it is difficult to predict the sum of money, if Jordan Henderson is reportedly worth around 20 million, then you can imagine Arsenal's valuation.

It is possible that Barcelona could be interested in a player plus cash deal for Fabregas and could offer one of their talented youngsters to the club. Wenger will have a lot of cash to build his team if Cesc does depart in the summer. But quality players are generally snapped up early in the transfer window which is why it is important for the Gunners to finalize the future of Fabregas in the next few weeks.

If Nasri does sign a new deal at the Emirates, then there is every possibility that he could be shifted to the central attacking midfield role which he prefers to a wide role. The Frenchman is undoubtedly talented and could replace Fabregas though it will mean that Jack Wilshere will be responsible for the distribution and controlling the tempo of the game.

There is also the possibility of Arsenal signing a new midfielder who can fit in with Arsenal's style of play and Nasri can continue on the wings with either Aaron Ramsey or the new midfielder operating in the hole behind striker Robin van Persie. But if Fabregas does leave the club, what is certain is that the money has to be invested into the squad.

Another option for Arsene Wenger is to invest the money from Fabregas' sale to sign a new striker like Benzema and Van Persie can operate behind the striker with Nasri and Walcott as wingers in the formation. This could result in change in formation back to a 4-4-1-1 but it depends on Arsene Wenger's decision on how he wants to utilize the two strikers.

If Nasri does not stay, then it is the worst case in which both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri depart Arsenal. In this scenario, Arsene Wenger will most certainly have to spend the money to acquire a central attacking midfielder, preferably someone who can also play on the wings to provide depth. He could sign a winger or a versatile striker who could play on the wing which will be excellent for Arsenal.

If Cesc Fabregas does stay at Arsenal for the 2011-12 season, then What are the Options?

If the Arsenal captain stays at the club, then it will be pretty straightforward as to what the manager should do in the summer. It will come down to Samir Nasri's decision as to what the Wenger will do in the transfer market. There is a good probability that Nicklas Bendtner will leave the club in the summer and Wenger would have to sign a striker to add depth to the squad.

If Nasri stays, then signing a striker should be the only priority as Arsenal do have a number of attack minded players who can fit in when necessary. Nasri, Arshavin and Walcott will be the wingers while a versatile striker preferably can be added to the squad. Fabregas, Ramsey and Wilshere can play in the attacking midfield role where there is no need for a new player to be signed.

If the French midfielder does leave the club, then Arsene Wenger would have to sign a new winger because Arshavin and Walcott will be the only two wingers apart from Rosicky who has not been very effective since recovering from his long term injury. Arsenal will require a quality winger who can fit in straight in the first team and can provide a lot of quality to the team.


Why is an Early Decision on the Future of Fabregas is Important for Arsenal?

An early decision on Fabregas is absolutely essential for Wenger to decide on the type of players that he has to target for Arsenal. if he is staying with the club, then he can concentrate on the Nasri situation and can be certain on what positions he has to target in the summer. If he does not stay at the club or the club is ready to accept a bid from Barcelona, then they will have to move in to do their best with the contract situation of Samir Nasri and could possibly move him to centre midfield.

But either way, it makes perfect sense for Arsenal to bid for a talented winger like Eden Hazard who has been linked with the Gunners in the past. Though Tomas Rosicky has not been at his best, it is better for the Arsenal manager to retain his services because he can provide a lot of experience and can provide depth to the team.

If Cesc Fabregas' future is not resolved by the end of June, it could mean that a number of players could be signed only after pre-season starts for Arsenal and that is not ideal for the Gunners. In the pre-season, it is important that the players adjust to the new signings' style of play and it could help the player to build a good rapport with his team mates as well.

Arsene Wenger needs to get his deals sorted out before the start of the Champions League qualifier which could turn out to be a tricky fixture. If the Fabregas saga is allowed to drag on till that point, it is possible that it could affect the planning for the next season which could be the most important one yet in Arsene Wenger's long tenure at the club.


If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Jan Vertonghen, Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects 



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Signing Jan Vertonghen

Arsenal have officially confirmed the transfer of Carl Jenkinson from Charlton and the youngster has been signed very much for the future. However, Arsenal fans are frustrated by Wenger's frugal transfer policies in addition to enduring a six year trophy drought and are desperate for the manager to show intent in the transfer market. With a number of players linked with an exit from Arsenal including the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, the Arsenal manager will look to bring in some quality to challenge for the title.

The Gunners struggled in defence in the 2010-11 season with set-pieces in particular being the major problem. Wenger has admitted his side's weaknesses in this regard and will look to bring in more height to the team which has a lot of short skilled players as opposed to the previous generation at Arsenal where there were more taller and stronger players.

In the 2010-11 season, Arsenal's best centre back Thomas Vermaelen only played in five games out of 38 league games with the last two games after the season had effectively been over. Though Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou have shown potential for the future, the Gunners would like to have an established centre back to provide solidity to the Gunners' defence.

With Manchester United close to signing talented prospect Phil Jones and Liverpool on the verge of concluding the deal for Jordan Henderson, it means more pressure for the Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger to strengthen his squad in the summer. The primary concern for the Arsenal manager would be on how to strengthen their defence next year because they have conceded much more than their rivals.

Arsenal have been linked with many defenders in this summer and they had also been linked with moves for many others last summer to fill gaps vacated by William Gallas and Sol Campbell. One of the defenders who have been linked with a move to Arsenal in the past is Ajax and Belgian Centre Back Jan Vertonghen, who has also been linked with a move to Manchester City. This article is about the advantages and disadvantages of signing the Belgium International.

Advantages

Vertonghen is a left footed defender who is technically good on the ball and has been consistent in the recent past. The Belgian centre back, who is 6' 2" tall, has good aerial ability and also his reading of the game is excellent. He has been compared to Thomas Vermaelen and certainly shares some similarities in his style of play with his compatriot.

He is composed on the ball and has the ability to bring it out from the back and distribute it as well. He can also be effective in taking free-kicks, which has been a problem for Arsenal since Robin van Persie has not been at his best in set-piece duties. Also, he has scored a few cracking goals just like Vermaelen and it is difficult to not mention the similarities between the two which could be a reason for Wenger wanting to look at other alternatives.

The versatile defender can play as left back or as a defensive midfielder, where he has played in a number of games for Belgium where Thomas Vermaelen and Daniel Van Buyten are the preferred centre backs. Arsenal might have to deal with Song's absence due to the African Cup of Nations and should Song represent Cameroon, there are no suitable replacements for him but Vertonghen can fit in comfortably as a defensive midfielder.

Also there is a possibility that Gael Clichy might not sign a new contract with the club which means he could leave though his destination is still not clear. Though Kieran Gibbs is a good talent, he is ptone to injuries and had a start-stop season this year in addition to missing most part of the 2009-10 season due to injury and Left Back is another position where Vertonghen can play if necessary.

Vertonghen has good aerial ability and would certainly help Arsenal in dealing with set-pieces. Also, his versatility in the defensive midfield role means that he can play there to provide the Gunners with extra height on set-pieces and dealing with aerial threat. Laurent Koscielny has progressed to a great extent this season and has shown the makings of an excellent defender in the future. Koscielny could be entrusted with the job of partnering Thomas Vermaelen in the next season considering the fact that Koscielny has the attitude and talent to be a future first choice centre back for Arsenal.

Vertonghen will add a lot of depth and versatility to the squad, which will help considering that the Gunners have suffered a lot due to injuries to various players in recent seasons. At the age of 24, he is ready to take the next big step in his career having won the Dutch title in Ajax and will have the desire to establish himself as one of the world's best defenders.

Disadvantages

With Manchester City also interested in Vertonghen, it could drive the price of the Belgian International by a few million and Arsenal will not be able to match City's wages if they decide to spend exorbitantly. Also Vertonghen is a player who is quite similar to Vermaelen and having two left sided defenders could be a problem. Also, he is quite attack minded similar to the mould of Vermaelen which means it could be a risk if they are paired together.

However, if Arsene Wenger does believe in the quality of Laurent Koscielny who played more than 40 games this year, then he could use the Frenchman alongside Thomas Vermaelen and push Vertonghen into defensive midfield. With a defender playing in midfield, Arsenal could revert to the 4-3-3 formation used in 2009-10 which will provide more freedom for Jack Wilshere to attack which is his natural instinct.

But Vertonghen's primary role is as a centre back and he will not like to play out of position though he is versatile, which is one of the reasons why he could opt out of Arsenal. Also, Wenger has confirmed that he would like to sign a player who is experienced with the physicality of the Premiership and it is not the case with Vertonghen who is making the next big step in his career.

However, securing a Premiership experienced defender could be a problem for Arsenal considering that if Manchester United sign Phil Jones, then it is unlikely that Blackburn will let senior defender Christopher Samba also leave in the same summer. Also, Arsenal may have to pay over the odds to sign Gary Cahill, who has been linked with the Gunners in the past and could look at other alternatives from the Premiership and foreign leagues as well.

With the manager, players and supporters frustrated by the trophy drought, Arsene Wenger will not be afraid to plunge the cash to secure the signings of quality players and it could be the summer which decides the future of Arsene Wenger and his youthful squad.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Signing Blackburn’s Phil Jones


The Gunners have endured six long years of trophy drought and their frustration is also shared by the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who will look to strengthen his team by bringing in some additions to the squad. There have been a number of rumours linking some of their players to depart the club and Wenger would like to sort most of the deals before the pre-season starts.

Arsenal’s main problems in recent seasons has been their defence which has not been solid and this year, defending from set-pieces was particularly awful as the Gunners conceded a number of soft goals. Wenger will look to bring some taller players into the squad in order to mix it up and will hope that their defending is better next season.

The Gunners’ attack also did not fire towards the end of the season which is why Arsenal are linked with the likes of Karim Benzema and Gervinho. However, the defence presents a bigger problem for Arsene Wenger’s team who struggled in 2010-11 season although their best centre back Thomas Vermaelen was not present for most of the season.

However, it is not only the back four which has to be blamed for Arsenal’s shoddy defending as many of the attacking players have not aided in defence and also, the team’s average height is quite low which is another reason for their poor defending from set-pieces. As a result, Wenger has been looking to strengthen the team’s defending and he would prefer signing a defender who can cope with physicality of the Premiership and also, look for players experienced in the EPL.

One of the players who has been linked with a move to Arsenal in the summer is Blackburn’s promising youngster Phil Jones, who can play as a centre back or in the defensive midfield role. Wenger is a manager who is renowned for developing youngsters and could be interested in signing the Blackburn defender.

Phil Jones, who is only 19 years old, has been one of the best performers for Blackburn this season and will not come on a bargain for the Gunners. Arsenal should beat competition from many other clubs if they are interested in signing the England youth International. This article is on the advantages and disadvantages of signing Blackburn’s Phil Jones.

Advantages

Phil Jones is experienced in the Premiership and has made over 30 league appearances for the club despite only making his debut towards the end of the 2009-10 season. He has performed excellently against tough oppositions like Manchester United and Chelsea and looks destined to move to a bigger club in the future.

At a height of 6’ 2”, he possesses excellent aerial ability in addition to being decisive on the ground and also has decent technique on the ball. He has played as a defensive midfielder in a number of games for Blackburn and has displayed his battling qualities in the middle of the park and also, he showed that he can be adept with his passing and technique for a midfielder.

Arsenal do not have depth in the defensive midfield role with Alex Song the only natural holding midfielder in the squad. Though Abou Diaby can play in the role, he is not suited to the role and is better when he is proved with the freedom to surge forward from midfield. Though Song is currently not in the Cameroon squad due to off-field issues, there is every possibility that he could be in the squad for the African Cup of Nations which could mean he miss matches in January and February.

Jones is comfortable in the role of the holding midfielder and can be used in the role in the absence of Song. Also, he provides additional presence for set-pieces which will undoubtedly help the Gunners. Though his overall game can still improve, he certainly has shown a lot of potential and can go on to be an excellent ball-playing centre back in the future.

With Sebastien Squillaci being unimpressive in his first season at the club, there is a good possibility that he could be shipped out to accommodate new arrivals. Though Johan Djourou had a good 2010-11 season, he is still prone to errors and suffers from inconsistency. Laurent Koscielny had an extremely shaky start to the season but has also shown a lot of promise for the future and it is expected that he will have a better season next year when he is well accustomed to the Premiership.

Disadvantages

As is the case with many Arsenal targets, he could prove to be quite costly and though Wenger has said that Arsenal have the financial capability to make big signings in the summer but it is doubtful as to whether he will spend as much as the £15 million reported in the Mail to secure his services. Wenger has admitted he needs to bring in experience to bolster the squad and Jones does not fit the bill in that respect having played only 35 games for Arsenal.

Also, it is doubtful whether Jones will be the first choice centre back alongside Thomas Vermaelen because he is inexperienced at the highest level and Laurent Koscielny has shown a lot of promise in his debut season. The Blackburn defender could however be an excellent back-up and add quality depth to the squad.

If a youngster like Phil Jones, it could possibly mean the departures of promising youngsters Kyle Bartley, who was impressive on loan this season, and Ignasi Miquel who will enjoy lesser playing time. Bartley in particular has shown that he can be a part of Arsenal’s first team in the next season and he can also play as a defensive midfielder.
 
However, Phil Jones is considered to be a better talent and has been touted to be one of the best defenders in the future. Arsenal would certainly benefit by having a promising youngster like Jones in their team and the England U-21 player would certainly improve Arsenal with respect to dealing with set-pieces along with providing more depth and competition to the squad.

Manchester United signed Chris Smalling from Fulham for around £10 million and though it was too much at that time, Smalling's performances have meant that United have made an excellent investment for the future. Similarly, the spending on Phil Jones could prove to be an important investment for Arsenal who need to sign quality players in order to end this frustrating title drought.

English players are generally over-rated and cost much more than their counterparts in foreign leagues which is why Jones might cost more than his market price. However, if it is possible for Wenger to sign the defender at a price which is affordable, then he should make efforts to sign the Blackburn defender who could be a future England International.


If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Arsenal Transfer News: Gunners' Options Regarding Futures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri


Arsene Wenger is reportedly all set to cancel his holidays according to the Mirror, because of the potential departures of three of their more important players. Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin are the players mentioned in the report though Arshavin’s recent comments suggest that Wenger would like to retain him at Arsenal.

With the fans immensely frustrated by the six year trophy drought, the last thing that Arsene Wenger wants is to lose two of his best players in the squad. Though Arsenal have yet to announce any signing, the general consensus is that Arsene Wenger must bring in some established quality players in order to end this frustrating drought.

However, Wenger will not like to see his best players depart the club as it would be hard to find replacements for them and also, they might require time to adjust to the new club which might trigger another season of rebuilding the team. Though the Gunners endured a spectacular collapse towards the end of the season, they were the main competitors for Manchester United for most of the season and had good wins against quality teams like Barcelona and Chelsea.

Wenger is looking to bolster his squad by bringing in some new players who can add quality to the squad and also, retaining the services of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas is important for the Gunners next season. The Arsenal captain has been continually linked with a move to Barcelona while Nasri has only one year on his contract and should he not sign a new deal, he will be on his way out of the Emirates.

Samir Nasri has been linked with a number of clubs in Europe and he has done nothing to quash these rumors. On the contrary, according to a report on ESPNSoccernet, he refused to rule out a move to Manchester United, who are looking to add more quality to the team that won the EPL this season. Though there is not much news on the Fabregas front, the Arsenal captain could be a likely target for the Spanish Champions.

Cesc Fabregas Situation

Cesc Fabregas has admitted in the past that he would like to return to his former club at some point in his career and his potential transfer has been the subject of speculation for the past few seasons. He was convinced by Arsene Wenger to stay for the 2010-11 season and though the Arsenal manager has confirmed that there is no interest for the club captain, there is every possibility that Barcelona could bid for the Spanish midfielder.

Though Fabregas is likely to be benched, if all midfielders are fit for the Blaugrana, the possibility of winning trophies for Barcelona, where he was a youth player, appeals to him for sure. Wenger will be in a conundrum if he conveys to him that he wants to quit the club because it will be hard to replace him but also, if he resists the approach from the Catalans, it could lead to Fabregas being upset with the club and being the leader and captain of this young team, Wenger will not want any negative vibes before the season.

Whether Fabregas stays or not depends on his decision, Arsene Wenger’s persuasion skills and the offer that Barcelona make for the midfielder. Though Wenger will not price Fabregas out of the move on purpose, he will ensure that Fabregas is sold for the market value of the Arsenal captain and with the inflated transfer markets in the last few seasons, he could be Arsenal’s most expensive sale and could fetch around £45 million.

However, Wenger would rather like the Spaniard to stay at the club than obtain the money from his sale because he is integral to the success of the team and is arguably their best player and certainly their most consistent player over the last few years. But if he pushes for a move, then Arsenal could be interested in a swap deal involving one of Ibrahim Afellay or Thiago Alcantara plus cash of around £35 million.

Arsenal have Aaron Ramsey who is back to full fitness and he is expected to play a big role in the future for the Gunners considering he is one of the most promising midfielders in the world. Hence, the Gunners will not prefer signing Thiago, though he is very talented, because he will take time to adjust to the Premiership and also, he is relatively inexperienced.

Afellay would be an interesting option for the Gunners though considering that his versatility in the centre or on the wings could provide more flexibility for the Gunners. Also, he shares a good rapport with current Arsenal vice captain Robin van Persie and they will know their games having played for the Dutch national team together.

Also Afellay has not received much playing time for Barcelona after joining them in January in a cut-price deal from PSV Eindhoven. With Barcelona also linked with Giuseppi Rossi, he could receive lesser time next season and Cesc Fabregas’ arrival at Barcelona will certainly mean that he will not play in central midfield which he prefers.

Samir Nasri’s Contract Situation
 
However if Barcelona are not interested in involving Afellay in the deal, then Wenger would have another option to sign a quality winger like Eden Hazard and play Samir Nasri in the hole behind Robin van Persie. But the only problem in this is that there is absolutely no guarantee that Nasri will stay with the Gunners next season and he could move on if he fails to reach an agreement with Arsenal regarding the new contract.

Samir Nasri had an excellent first half of the season and though he did fade away towards the end of the season, a tally of 15 goals in a season is good for the midfielder who had scored 12 goals for Arsenal till the 2010-11 season. Nasri has developed into one of the most important players for the Gunners and Arsenal will not like to lose him this summer.

However, he has only one year on his contract and according to Arsene Wenger, there has been a slight financial disagreement on the contract and the Arsenal manager hoped he could hold on to the French midfielder. Nasri has the upper hand in the contract negotiations with many top clubs interested in acquiring his services.

Nasri is reportedly seeking a pay similar to what Cesc Fabregas earns at the club. However, the club has a wage structure which should be respected and if Wenger gives in to Nasri’s demands, then it will mean that he will also have to increase the wages of several other players like Robin van Persie, who has been extremely loyal to the club. It could mean a huge rise in the overall wages of the club and could affect the policy of the club in the long run as more players could start holding the club for ransom and it would set a bad precedent.

If he is indeed sold by the Gunners after failing to sign a new contract, it will be tough to replace a player of his quality. Though he has only one year left on his contract, he is a player of superb potential and could be worth as much as £20 million despite having only a year on his contract. The midfielder’s versatility provides a lot of depth to the Gunners and should he leave, Arsenal will have to look at quality players who can do the job for Arsenal.

Eden Hazard, who was named the French League player of the season for his superb performances for Lille, has been linked with the Gunners in the past and Wenger could splash the cash to acquire his services. Another possible alternative for the Gunners is to sign a quality striker like Karim Benzema who can also play on the wings which means more options for the Arsenal manager.

If Nasri does leave the club, it is likely that the Arsenal manager would also hold on to Tomas Rosicky, despite not being at his best since his return from injury. The Czech International has been benched for a number of games this season but he is one of the more versatile players in the squad and could provide depth to the squad.

The worst situation for the Gunners is in the scenario where Nasri and Fabregas both leave the club in the summer and that would certainly be devastating for the Gunners. However, Arsene Wenger is an astute manager and despite not many trophies in the last few years, he will understand the team’s need for quality players.

The Gunners could generate a large amount of money from the sale of the two players and probably they can also negotiate for a potential player exchange deal for Fabregas involving Afellay, which means that they could have as much as £50 million cash along with the signing of the Dutchman. Wenger needs to invest this money on quality players who are needed to win trophies for the Gunners.

Wenger could have a transfer budget of around £35-40 million and he has said that they do have the capability to make big signings. The Arsenal manager could sign a quality striker and Eden Hazard or Mario Goetze with that cash which means Arsenal will have a formidable attack with Robin van Persie, Aaron Ramsey and Ibrahim Afellay all capable of playing behind the striker.

It is certainly not all “gloom and doom” for Arsenal if Nasri and Cesc Fabregas leaves the club especially considering the potentials of Ramsey and Wilshere but Wenger would not like to lose two key players in the same summer as it could mean that the team’s play could be remodelled. Arsene Wenger will have to spend the money available in the summer to acquire quality players who could help the Gunners end their trophy drought and move to an era of consistent success like they enjoyed in the early years of Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal.