It seems like only yesterday the summer transfer window slammed shut, but we’re now just under a month away from the opening of it’s winter counterpart.
Indeed, the January window gives Premier League managers an important opportunity to reassess their squad pre-season, and according to Arsene Wenger, he’ll use it to make ‘at least one signing’.
Good news for Arsenal fans, but there’s a number of issues the Gunners gaffer needs to address in the New Year.
And just to prove it, we’ve thought of FOUR that require resolution via the transfer market. So without further ado…
Having amassed just 94 minutes’ worth of action in the Premier League and Champions League combined this season, despite remaining relatively injury fee, there’s been plenty of speculation regarding Lukas Podolski’s future at Arsenal over the last few months.
Arsene Wenger insists he’s not planning on selling the social-media-loving World Cup winner in January:
But do the Gunners really need him? Although 29 goals in 75 appearances can certainly be considered a decent return for the seasoned winger-forward, Arsenal now have Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck for that wide-left role – especially with Olivier Giroud now returned to full fitness.
Meanwhile, Podolski seems far less happy than Wenger about his current situation at the Emirates:
— Gary Horkan (@GaryHorkan) November 15, 2014
— IndyFootball (@IndyFootball) November 15, 2014
So what’s the point in keeping a bit-part player, currently on £75k per-week, that’s clearly unhappy in that role?
Wenger’s developed a bad habit of not moving on players over the last few years; I’m sure we all remember the summer 2013 debacle, where the likes of Andrei Arshavin, Sebastian Squillaci and Denilson all left the club on free transfers, and this season, Arsenal’s wage bill has surpassed Chelsea’s for the first time in a decade.
The squad needs to be streamlined to free up funds and the left wing is a department that can easily cope with the hit. Reports this morning claim Inter Milan are keen on the 29 year-old, and with just 18 months left on his contract, Wenger would be wise to sell:
— Barclays League (@BarclaysLeague) December 3, 2014
With Jack Wilshere out injured, Mathieu Debuchy a shadow of the player he once was and Mikel Arteta lacking the impeccable consistency of the last few seasons, it’s believed the Gunners are eying a centre-mid for the January window. But what type of player should their potential signing be?
The seemingly obvious choice is a rough-and-rugged holding player – someone to provide much-needed balance to Arsenal’s starting Xi and hopefully nullify those counter-attacks that persistently haunt the Gunners’ defence.
One of the names in the hat is German international Sami Khedira, who looks set to leave the Bernabeu in January as his contract enters its final six months. Reports this morning claim Real Madrid have dropped their asking price to a mere £6million for the World Cup winner.
Then there’s Sporting Lisbon prodigy William Carvalho, who the north Londoners allegedly came close to signing on summer deadline day:
— IndyFootball (@IndyFootball) September 3, 2014
Or Southampton star Morgan Schniederlin. He’s emerged as one of the Premier League’s top enforcers since the Saints’ top flight ascension in summer 2012. Here’s a look at his stats over the last few seasons:
That mould of physically intimidating, hard-working and defensively adept midfielder would probably be the choice of the Arsenal fan base. But other reports claim Arsene Wenger is looking at centre-mids of the deep lying-playmaker variety, such as former Newcastle talisman Yohan Cabaye:
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 29, 2014
His PSG career has never quite taken off and it’s believed the 28 year-old wants to move on in the New Year. Likewise with Joao Moutinho, who’s allegedly handed in a transfer request at Monaco following the departures of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez during the summer:
— FootballFanCast.com (@FootballFanCast) November 26, 2014
Here’s a clip of the Portugal international in action:
In my opinion, Arsenal should move for a proven enforcer. The spine is the weakest part of their starting Xi and a signing like Khedira, Carvalho or Schneiderlin could drastically improve their shape and structure against heavyweight opponents.
Then again, Wenger and I rarely see eye to eye.
How Arsene Wenger let Arsenal enter the season with one less defender than last year is frankly beyond me, but there’s no point looking back now.
It seems Wenger is aware of the issue, confirming back in October that he does intend to add another defender to his squad – assumedly a centre-back – when the transfer market reopens.
But what price-range should the Gunners be considering here? Some reports link them to the likes of Borussia Dortmund star Mats Hummels, valued by the Black Yellows at a whopping £47million:
— Express Arsenal (@DX_Arsenal) November 20, 2014
Whilst others speculate a bid around the £30million mark for Athletic Bilbao prodigy Aymeric Laporte:
Chelsea join Arsenal and Man Utd in £33m hunt for Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte http://t.co/sPHQGZ9upR
— Arsenal News (@newsnow_arsenal) November 12, 2014
Hummels in particular would constitute a major coup for the north Londoners. The German World Cup winner blends aerial dominance with a Franz-Beckenbauer-esque ability to instigate or support attacks and is considered to be one of Europe’s top centre-halves. Here’s a clip of the 6 foot 4 defender in action:
But do Arsenal really need another world-renowned star at the heart of their defence? Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscienly are as good a centre-back partnership as any – what they need is better cover.
Ipswich Town’s Tyrone Mings remains an option. He’s more of a free-roaming left-back at the minute but is blessed with the 6 foot 3 physique of a Premier League centre-half. Interesting, Wenger has recently admitted the 21 year-old is on his radar:
— ITV News Anglia (@itvanglia) December 5, 2014
Then there’s Premier League contract rebels Ron Vlaar and Winston Reid, who could leave Aston Villa and West Ham respectively in January as they hold out on new deals. Both could be obtained for fees between £5million and £10million.
But in my opinion, the best option available to Arsenal is FC Basel prodigy Fabian Schar. Statistically, he was the best defender in the Champions League last season, as detailed below:
And the 22 year-old will almost certainly be snapped up by a major club in the New Year, with his Bebbi contract entering its final six months. Here’s a clip of the Swiss international in action:
Following this absolute stunner against Manchester United whilst on loan at Olympiacos last season:
And bagging one goal and one assist in five World Cup outings for Costa Rica over the summer – including this strike against Italy:
Many assumed young winger-forward Joel Campbell would have an important role to play at Arsenal this season – perhaps a stand-in for the injured Theo Walcott, perhaps an alternative to Olivier Giroud, perhaps understudy to Alexis Sanchez.
But so far he’s seen just 57 minutes’ worth of action in the Premier League and Champions League combined which, in my opinion, is a fantastic waste of a talented young player. The 22 year-old recently took to his personal website to dismiss reports that he’s grown disillusioned at the Emirates:
Meanwhile, Wenger insists Campbell still has a future with the north Londoners.
Nonetheless, he needs semi-regular football to continue his development productively. So in other words, the Arsenal boss must sort a loan move for the South American in January.
There’s plenty of potential suitors out there, particularly in Serie A:
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) November 13, 2014
But if Campbell is to have a future in the Arsenal first team, he needs to prove himself in the Premier League as soon as possible. Swansea City has been mooted as a potential destination:
— SwansFC (@SwansFC) December 2, 2014
Whilst other sources claim the likes of Everton, West Brom and Liverpool want to purchase the forward outright:
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) December 2, 2014