Arsenal fans were pleasantly surprised with the singing of German Lukas Podolski from Koln before the 2011/12 season had even finished. Uncharacteristic of Arsene Wenger, the hope was that it was the start of a few signings, all of which were to be undertaken as soon as possible. The need to cement a strong squad together before the start of the season was something that escaped the Gunners last summer, and was for many, their downfall in a horrific to start to last season.
Hopes were dashed though, as no other additions were made to the Arsenal squad by the start of June, as players across the continent flocked to play for their respective countries in Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012. Arsene Wenger will no doubt now be watching closely to see who impresses at the tournament, having already been linked to a few names. We look through some of the talent Wenger is said to be interested, and why.
–Olivier Giroud (Centre Forward, Montpellier. £12-£15million)
The Montpellier front man recently announced he would not be deciding on his future until after the European championships. Having scored 21 goals in Ligue 1, Arsene Wenger will be interested in signing a prolific striker to complement new signing Lukas Podolski and Robin Van Persie should he renew his contract. With the French in the same group as England, Ukraine and Sweden, Wenger will be able to see how capable Giroud is against the likes of John Terry and Joleon Lescott as well as two other tough, physical opponents. At 33/1 to be top scorer, Giroud will look to impress when he does feature, as it is likely he will play second fiddle to Karim Benzema.
–Yann M’Villa (Defensive Midfielder, Rennes, £18-£20million)
Subject to significant speculation from both Arsenal and Barcelona, it is no surprise that Rennes have upped the asking price for their 21 year old holding midfielder to as high as £20million. Playing in the same French team as Olivier Giroud, Wenger will be examining the performances of M’Villa closely. With the marauding forward of Alex Song costing Arsenal at times last season, it will be no surprise that Wenger looks to M’Villa to provide defensive stability. The physical 21 year old is not afraid to get stuck in, and will be eager to return to fitness and impress having sprained his ankle in a warm up game against Serbia.
–Alan Dzagoev (Attacking Midfielder, CSKA Moscow, undisclosed)
The Russian attacking midfielder is said to be a replacement for fellow countryman Andrei Arshavin, who Zenit are looking to sign permanently having impressed on a loan spell. The 21 year old has been dubbed by Arshavin himself as one of Russia’s best young players, and a move to North London from CSKA Moscow will excel his career. Wenger will be looking for a creative player in midfield as last season saw Arshavin feature below standard, and Yossi Benayoun has returned to Chelsea on loan. Having already scored 2 goals in an opening Group A game against Czech Republic, Dzagoev will be hoping his form in front of goal continues to catch Wenger’s eye and bring a move to the Emirates.
Whether or not these players will be wearing an Arsenal shirt come August remains to be seen. But Arsene Wenger can use the European Championships to scout some of the finest and most promising footballing talent the continent has to offer. If Arsenal are to clearout the underperformers, the introduction of these three would be the kind of quality players’ fans will be eager to replace them with.