FOUR transfer dilemmas Arsene Wenger must resolve in January

The summer transfer window may have only just slammed shut but we at Football FanCast are already looking forward to it’s winter counterpart.

And although Arsenal spent around £80million during the off-season – the fourth most of any Premier League side – there are still a number of issues Arsene Wenger has to address via the transfer market in January.

Admittedly, the winter window is never the best time to resolve lingering issues; few clubs are willing to spend big and the majority of players available are usually short of form. But if the Gunners gaffer intends to improve his club’s title credentials and all-round efficiency, it’s an opportunity he can’t pass by.

So without further ado, here’s FOUR transfer dilemmas Arsene Wenger must resolve when the market reopens.

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Decide the fate of Joel Campbell

Joel Campbell
After netting this sensational strike against Manchester United in the Champions League amid a loan spell with Olympiacos last season:

…in addition to bagging a goal for Costa Rica at the World Cup:

Many expected young winger-forward Joel Campbell to be utilised in a cameo role by Arsene Wenger this season. Thus far however, he’s been granted a token substitute outing in the Community Shield and seen just 16 minutes’ worth of Premier League action. That’s in no small part due to Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck joining the Emirates ranks over the summer, whilst Theo Walcott’s planned return from injury within the next few weeks will further exacerbate the situation. The 22 year-old is desperate for first team football; Campbell’s agent claims he wanted to move to either Roma or AC Milan this summer:

Wenger must grant that wish in January. Either Campbell has the potential to become a future star for Arsenal, and thus needs to gain experience through a loan spell in the Premier League, or he’s surplus to requirements and should be sold whilst interest in the South American is high.

Sign a low-cost centre-back

Fabian Schar
Arsene Wenger has around £30million to spend in January according to the Daily Mail, and a decent portion of that must be devoted to signing a centre-back.

We’re only five games into the Premier League season and Arsenal have already hit the limits of their defensive depth, with Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal and Calum Chambers all recently undergoing spells on the sidelines.

But this issue has existed for some time, namely since the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona in the summer.

There are a few decent options out there; Winston Reid for example, who was linked with an Emirates switch last January, has shown a remarkable consistency since West Ham returned to the Premier League in 2012.

His contract is up at the end of the season, meaning he’ll likely be available for a pittance, and the 26 year-old would fit the hierarchy of Arsenal’s squad well. Here’s a look at the 2013 Hammer of the Year in action:

Another candidate is FC Basel’s Fabian Schar, who was once again linked with a move to north London over the weekend:

Whoscored.com rated the 22 year-old as the best defender in the Champions League last season, as detailed below: schar cl And the Swiss international’s World Cup performances weren’t too bad either, making eight interceptions during two outings at Brazil 2014. In a similar vein of thought to Winston Reid, Schar won’t immediately command a place in Arsenal’s starting XI over Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

Finding a physical midfielder

Morgan Schneiderlin To the delight of Arsenal fans who have been aware of this issue for several years, Arsene Wenger revealed last week that he wants to add a physically imposing midfielder to his squad:

The Gunners currently boast great quality and depth in the middle of the park, but with Aaron Ramsey the only regular midfielder who measures in at over 6 foot, a lack of variation in that department is costing Arsenal valuable points against big teams.

The north Londoners were linked to Southampton star Morgan Schneiderlin over the summer and could revisit the France international in January. His form has been nothing short of incredible this season, as detailed below:

schneiderlin season

…and typified by this curler against Newcastle:

But rated at around £30million and recently declaring he’s happy at St. Mary’s, the 24 year-old may prove too rich for Wenger’s blood.

Highly-rated Sporting Lisbon star William Carvalho remains an alternative, having recently rejected a new contract with the Portuguese side, but The Metro believe he’ll still cost around £24million.

Nigel de Jong remains a cheaper solution, with the shin-crushing Dutchman’s contract at AC Milan set to expire in the summer, but recent speculation suggests he’s about to sign a new deal.

Sami Khedira’s contract will enter it’s final six months in January too, yet the Real Madrid star’s wage demands were highlighted as a potential stumbling block over the summer.

Thus, in classic Wenger style, signing an athletically gifted holding midfielder will likely have to wait until the summer.

Reduce the wage bill


For the first time in over a decade, Arsenal’s wage bill now surpasses Chelsea’s, which is completely ridiculous considering where both sides are likely to finish in the Premier League table this season.

Arsene Wenger needs to shift some deadwood in January and one prime candidate for the transfer scrapheap is wide man Lukas Podolski.

The German international is a useful member of the Emirates squad but first team opportunities are likely to dry up in January when Olivier Giroud returns from injury, freeing Danny Welbeck to act as cover for Alexis Sanchez on the right-hand side. Theo Walcott will be back in action soon too.

The 29 year-old’s salary is at £3million per-annum according to recent reports and this money could be better spent in other areas, particularly the defence. Here’s a look at Podolski in action:

It could be worth parting company with Santi Cazorla too; the 29 year-old is a fantastic technical talent but he lost form last year and the Gunners are already privy to a wealth of quality and depth in midfield.

He was strongly linked to Atletico Madrid this summer and currently on £80k per-week, the Spaniard’s departure would significantly reduce Arsenal’s wage bill. Cazorla is a real talent however, here’s a look at some of his silkiest skills in an Arsenal jersey:

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