It has been suggested that Arsene Wenger opted against signing Moussa Sissoko this past January because he has his sights set on Toulouse’s Etienne Capoue. The more expensive option. How odd.
Here’s the problem with this transfer target: it’s yet another player from the French league. And it’s yet another player who may or may not be good enough to make an immediate impact at Arsenal (despite him being a good player in France, it’s still up in the air).
Capoue is exactly the type of player that Arsenal need, yet I’m not saying he’s the perfect target. Experts on the French league have spoken highly of him and there is a sense he would do well in England. He is a strong, battling midfield player and has facilitated in Sissoko’s advance up the midfield when the current Newcastle player was at Toulouse.
A midfielder in this mould should signal one thing: it was always wrong to put any deal of faith in Abou Diaby for this season. He was undoubtedly seen as the in-house replacement for Alex Song and that has now backfired. Sure, he’s made a few appearances and looked fantastic, but really, what’s the point? The other thing is that even with Diaby, Wenger has always leaned on Arteta as the ‘holding’ player and urged Diaby to be the ball carrier.
Arsenal have at times looked comfortable playing with Mikel Arteta as the deepest of the midfield three, but the Premier League calls for some deal of variance in what you can offer each week. I have no doubt about Capoue’s strength in the midfield over what Arsenal currently have, but if Wenger was going for a player from the French league, why miss out on the many Newcastle have signed? Furthermore, why not expand beyond just the familiar and safe zone that has been hit or miss in recent seasons?
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What I find interesting is that the club have signed off on an impressive shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates that is befitting of the club’ status. Yet, it seems as though the management are still looking to shop in a market where prices are unlikely to be as steep as in other parts of Europe. The problem is, Arsenal are not or have not been buying the very best available in France, the players who will come in and make a difference. Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and players of that calibre. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, and Wenger has got some of them spot on. But a club like Arsenal shouldn’t be restricted in such a way when obvious and notable strengthening is needed for the now, not after a year or so of acclimatising.
Arsenal have seem immediate impacts from their most recent two imports from Spain, with Santi Cazorla acting as the creative replacement in the midfield for the departed Cesc Fabregas and Nacho Monreal providing the defensive presence on the left flank that has been missing for many seasons. La Liga is not bad league, quite far from it. The Spanish clubs are doing well in European competition and you can always count on a surprise package during the domestic season. Spain is crippled by financial woes, and yet Wenger conceded not too long ago that his knowledge of the Spanish league was not up to standard.
I don’t have a problem with Arsenal looking to Etienne Capoue because he’s the type of player the team need, along with another figure in attack. However, the bigger issue is whether he comes in with any deal of guarantees. Are Arsenal shopping in the market to the best of their ability or once again settling for the cheaper option, relatively speaking?