Arsene Wenger will apparently be given in the region of £30-45m to spend in the next transfer window, and while he has been hesitant to spend during previous summers, he must surely know that now is the time to invest on the necessary positions that need strengthening- and one of them is in defence. Assuming that he is willing to buy players that wouldn’t necessarily have been in his preferred list, something he may have to do given Arsenal’s lack of silverware in the last five years, than Bolton’s Gary Cahill would be a good start.
Whether or not Wenger is planning a rebuilding of Arsenal this summer, his central defensive options look weak and have recently been exposed at Wigan and in the Champions League against Barcelona. As good as the Spanish giants were, Arsenal’s defence was all over the place in the two matches and practically succumbed to every Lionel Messi chance. Cahill is at a decent age, 24, and has gained enough experience at Bolton for him to be thrust in to the higher demands and pressures of a top four club. If Wenger is serious about Cahill than it may be a blessing in disguise if Fabio Capello chooses not to select the player for the World Cup. This is because his value would soar, but he is yet to win a senior cap.
The central defensive duo that played virtually the whole of the north London derby, after Thomas Vermaelen went off injured, was Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre. Whilst there can be no doubting the experience they give the side, would they really last a whole Premiership term? Silvestre, in particular, is error-prone and it would make sense if Wenger allowed him to leave this summer. Campbell, at 35, has recently displayed the qualities which he showed in his 20s and was superb at White Hart Lane, but there are similarities between his second spell with the Gunners and the signing of Laurent Blanc by Manchester United. According to last Sunday’s Sunday Mirror, Wenger is looking to replace Cahill with William Gallas- who is out of contract this summer. This would be a wise investment because it seems that Gallas’s best days are behind him, and he is quickly joining the aged list of Arsenal’s current defenders. Considering that it is highly unlikely that Wenger will let the trio of Silvestre, Campbell and Gallas all leave together, there is enough stacked against them to see that someone like Cahill would come in and be guaranteed a starting place, presumably alongside Vermaelen- who has been one of, if not the best, the signings of the season and should certainly be in with a real chance of claiming Arsenal’s player of the year award.
The Gunners fans will know that Cahill was linked with the club last summer, but he has developed more since that time even though he suffered the unfortunate circumstances of the blood clot in his left arm. Having made the recovery, and back performing at Bolton again, his performances may well be noticed by Arsenal’s scouts given that they will have been monitoring Jack Wilshere’s progress. Arsenal have been crying out for someone who has presence about them to command their defence, and Gallas was that man for some time but Cahill has all the qualities of a typical English defender. Moving to Arsenal would not only give him the chance to play for a club in the Champions League, it would further motivate him to try and break in to the England squad. He may not be the most vociferous of players but playing like a leader in what is likely to be a changed defence will naturally enhance his all-round skills.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle is adamant that Cahill will remain at the club and stated this earlier this week. He said: “You can’t stop people admiring your players, but I see no reason why Gary Cahill shouldn’t be at Bolton Wanderers next season. He will continue to get better. Hopefully, we can help him improve as a player and that will be of benefit to Gary Cahill and to the club.” Coyle knows that Cahill’s name was one of the most popular in last January’s transfer window and judging by the way Wenger goes about his business, both he and Coyle know that it will take quite a sum of money to ensure that the Emirates Stadium is Cahill’s new home next season.
While many have questioned Arsene Wenger’s lack of English signings, he and the club’s fans will only know too well that it was an all-English back four that were so successful in the 90s and in the early year’s of the Frenchman’s time at Arsenal. Cahill may not be at the level of Tony Adams yet, but there is no reason as to why he can’t turn in to a dominant centre-back. Coyle may want to keep him but selling him could raise the funds that they need for players and knowing that spending a sufficient sum on Cahill, as a long-term investment, could work out well for Arsenal’s defence and Cahill’s career.
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