I often find that the wait for the football season to begin lasts for seemingly decades, and then when it finally arrives it passes as quickly as the speed of light. This is exactly how this season has felt, we are in the middle of October and before we know the Christmas trees will be going down, downhearted children will be going back to school and most importantly the transfer window will be open once again.
In the wake of yesterday’s article by the Daily Mail, it has been suggested that potentially the busiest side in the transfer window will be Arsenal. According to the article, Wenger will be given £35 million to spend following Robin van Persie’s departure to Manchester United. And subsequently, his efforts are on replacing that very man. For all that Arsenal have had a decent start to the first two months of the Premier League season, lying in 7th, they haven’t really found that long-term acquisition they were perhaps hoping for up front. Olivier Giroud is arguably the only out and out striker they have at the club, but he isn’t your model lone striker who will lead the line and try and play behind the last line of defence in the way that the likes of RVP, Sergio Aguero and Jermain Defoe have been so good at doing over the years. Giroud is the sort of striker who supplements play, but as a result he doesn’t offer the striking solution Wenger is yearning for. Whilst the Arsenal manager’s other summer signing, Lukas Podolski, has made an impressive goal scoring start to the campaign, scoring 4 goals in all competitions, he never has been a central striker and I think both he and Wenger feel more comfortable utilising the German international in the left wing-forward role.
Other players just don’t seem to fit the bill for Wenger. Granted, Gervinho has made a good start to this campaign after a disappointing last one, but again the Gunners boss doesn’t regard the Ivorian as RVP’s successor. It also seems obvious that for now, Theo Walcott isn’t going to be granted his wish in playing in the central striker role and Marouane Chamakh is seemingly surplus to requirements at the Emirates. So the general consensus appears to be that Wenger still needs another striker at the club. The two men reportedly on the shopping list for the Arsenal manager is Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez and Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente.
Lopez is more of the archetypal leading the line type of striker that I think Wenger is probably looking for. At 24, he is a fine-young talent. He goal scoring record is decent if not incredible. My belief with Lopez is that he will probably be more difficult to lure away from Atletico given the recent success that they have had and at his age they will be more adamant to hold on to their striker. I personally feel the better option would be to sign Fernando Llorente.
At 6 foot 5 inches he is the sort of purchase that completely contradicts the model striker I have been banging on about in this article. But there is more to his game than that. He is surprisingly fleet footed and quick for such a tall man, but the key to his success at Bilbao’s is to create space for himself. He also has a brilliant goal scoring record, much better than Lopez’s scoring 81 goals in 240 appearances. He is out of contract next summer and the 27-year-old has already announced his intentions to leave the club. As a result, Bilbao will be desperate to offload the striker a cut-price fee before he is released on a free in the summer. However, the most important attraction of Llorente for Arsenal is that he is has been successful in recent years in a Bilbao side that plays the brand of football that Arsenal play in the Premier League. They may utilise this brand of football to a less successful extent, but as Gunners fans will know at times you sometimes sacrifice slick attractive football for success unfortunately.
It has also been rumoured that Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic and Palermo’s Abel Hernandez are also targets for the Gunners, although the pair are further down on Wenger’s wish-list than the La Liga duo. For all that Arsenal have lost key men in recent seasons, which I’m sure they won’t thank the media for keep mentioning, they actually have a good squad players in all positions. Apart from the central striker position, the only other position they need to strengthen in January is in central defence where in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker they do look a little frail. It now seems apparent that Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou do not feature in Wenger’s plans, so with them two seemingly departing from the club in the near future, a move for another defender would be wise.
The Daily Mail article also suggests that Arsenal will look at a goalkeeper to challenge Wojciech Szczesny for the number 1 spot at the club. I personally see this as unlikely as the club already have sufficient cover for the Polish ace in Lukas Fabianski and Vito Mannone. I love to hear from Arsenal fans which positions do they believe need strengthening the most? Also who would you like to see Wenger bring into the club in January?
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