It feels like only yesterday it’s summer counter-part slammed shut, but the January transfer window is now upon us, in what often constitutes a rather chaotic time of year for Premier League clubs.
And rumour has it that it could be an exceptionally busy one for Arsenal; currently a point short of a Champions League spot, there’s plenty of speculation suggesting the north Londoners will look to strengthen ahead of the second half of their campaign.
Even if Arsene Wenger decides not to dip into the piggy bank, there are a number of integral transfer issues that require his attention this month. Being the helpful bunch we are at Football Fancast, we’ve listed the four we view as the most important. So without further ado…
With the absence of a back-up centre-back already having such a detrimental impact on Arsenal’s Premier League campaign – either Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal, both attacking full-backs measuring in at 5 foot 11, have filled in at centre-half eleven times already this term – there’s no way the Gunners enter the second half of the season without signing another central defender.
There’s been worryingly little discussion of the issue on the transfer front this month, with the majority of speculation dedicated to the Gunners’ near-completed deal for Krystian Bielik, but The Daily Mail have reported a scouting trip to Espanyol this week to run the rule over Mexico centre-back Hector Moreno, suggesting a bid could be imminent.
In addition to impressing at the last two World Cups, the 26 year-old has been regarded as one of La Liga’s most consistent defenders for some time.
Should that not be the case however, the other options available to Arsenal are well-known; West Ham contract rebel Winston Reid – a master of the nuts and bolts of the defensive trade, albeit, slightly lacking on the technical front – has been strongly linked with an Emirates move, as has FC Basel prodigy Fabian Schar.
The Swiss international has continually impressed in the Champions League over the last 18 months – last season, averaging an incredible 3.3 tackles, 4 interceptions, 6.7 clearances and 1.8 successful aerial duels per match – and boasts all the aesthetic, ball-playing qualities one could want in a modern day centre-half.
All can likely be signed for under the £10million mark – but failing to sign any this month, in classic Wenger style, could well cost the Gunners their Champions League status.
Reports linking Arsenal with a £16million bid for Newcastle star Moussa Sissoko have remained regular and consistent this month, suggesting there could be some legitimacy to the rumour – but is the France international the midfielder the Gunners really need?
It’s the 25 year-old’s pace, power and industry that’s believed to have struck a chord with Arsene Wenger, having revealed his desire for a ‘physical presence…like Vieira or Petit‘ back in September, and Sissoko would provide some much needed diversity in Arsenal’s engine room from their otherwise diminutive playmakers.
But Sissoko’s physicality, thus far in the Premier League, has been better felt in offensive capacities. Last term, he recorded six assists as an unorthodox right winger and this season he’s being utilised almost as a poor man’s Yaya Toure; a battering ram of attacking brawn in the No.10 role.
The last thing Arsenal need this month is another offensive midfielder, or at Sissoko’s most conservative description, a box-to-box. It’s the exact reason Wenger gave for not signing Real Madrid contract rebel Sami Khedira last summer.
What the Gunners require most is an out-and-out enforcer, which brings us nicely on to…
Measuring in at a lofty 6 foot 4 and famed for his physicality, impending Arsenal signing Krystian Bielik appears to fit the category of a tough-tackling, imposing holding midfielder. But is the 17 year-old, of Polish side Legia Warsaw, ready for regular first team football at Premier League level?
The immediate assumption, based on his limited experience and age, would be a resounding ‘no’, in which case, Arsenal still need to sign another defensive midfielder this January – especially with Mikel Arteta ruled out for the next three months.
Top level defensive midfielders aren’t in copious supply at the minute but anonymous author ‘The Secret Footballer’ claims Arsenal have reached an agreement for Southampton star Morgan Schneiderlin, who’s currently joint-seventh in the Premier League’s tackle charts, as reported by The Express.
Still an unconfirmed rumour however, it’s worth considering some alternatives. Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender – a lung-bursting ball of robust challenges, work-rate and determination – has been linked with Arsenal before and as recently as November by the Metro, who claim a £19million bid.
Or how about an audacious swoop for Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez? A 6 foot 5 monolith, capable of playing in midfield or defence, with considerable technical ability, the Spain international would bring huge improvement to Arsenal’s starting Xi. He’s been sidelined for the entirety of the current season season but will struggle to reclaim a first team place following the summer arrivals of Xabi Alonso and Mehdi Benatia, suggesting the 25 year-old could be interested in a move away from the Allianz Arena.
As ever, the Emirates is brimming with promising young talents, but not all are getting the amount of game-time they’d like to this season.
Particularly, Costa Rican World Cup sensation Joel Campbell. He impressed at Brazil 2014 and on loan last season with Olympiacos, scoring an incredible goal against Manchester United in the Champions League, but has so far seen just 39 minutes’ worth of Premiership action.
Arsene Wenger claimed he ‘loves‘ the 22 year-old winger-forward back in November, but he needs to gain some experience in the English top flight if he’s ever to become a recurring feature in Arsenal’s starting XI.
Newcastle have recently been linked with a loan bid by The Metro but it’s a rather turbulent period at St. James’s right now, with the Magpies currently between managers.
Resultantly, Wenger needs to find Campbell a more viable loan destination this month, preferably in the Premier League. My recommendation would be Everton – Roberto Martinez’s progressive philosophy is reminiscent of Wenger’s, and the Spaniard proved his capability with loanees last season, bringing a high level of performance out of Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu.
Others that could, and probably should, go out on loan this month include Serge Gnabry, Chuba Akpom, Isaac Hayden and Gedion Zelalem – all of whom appear ready to ply their trade at a competitive level.