Welcome To Summer Madness

And so the summer is here…and so are the yearly rumours.  Arsenal and Tottenham are both being linked with the same players again and it seems that the credit crunch has hit the newspapers particularly hard as the same stories from last year keep popping up; except ‘Obafemi Martins looks to swap Premiership clubs’.  I wonder why that is different now…oh wait!
Anyway, I thought it was the right kind of year to look at the potential transfer targets.  This may be the first year when we are more able to predict Wenger’s transfer activity in the summer.  He has admitted that he needs experienced old heads and there will only be a few people in.  I am not for one minute saying I know how Wenger will operate and I am not going to say I am sure of any specific transfers but a few have caught my eye over the last week or so.
There are a few things we must consider first:
1)     The British Pound is very weak compared to the Euro.  Therefore players from Europe will cost a lot more for English clubs.  Add to this the fact that players who are adapted to the fast pace and strength of the Premier League are exactly what we need, and one can see potential signings from domestic rivals.
2)     Wenger has a tendency to buy from his home land.  He has a very good scout network there and is believed to watch an awful lot of French Football.  Sagna, Nasri, Adebayor and Diaby have all come from there within the last few years.
Having looked at these points, I then thought to myself what Wenger thinks he needs.  It is clear that the main problems are defensive ones.  There is not yet a real leader in midfield to help the back four (although Song is getting there) and there is no organiser at the back in the mould of Tony Adams or Sol Campbell.
It is clear to me that in Touré and Gallas we have two sweepers.  Both players like to work around a defensive leader and a man who will attack the first ball and try and dominate the aerial ball.  Together, the balance is slightly haphazard and I think Wenger must select one of these players with a new rock at the back.  I just hope Gallas stays as he has proved he is our best defender.  When he got injured, we struggled at the back.  His positioning and sense of danger far exceeds Kolo’s
Here are some of the rumoured targets:
Brede Hangeland
Signing Hangeland would be a very big risk in my opinion.  The problem with Philippe Senderos was not a lack of aerial power but a lack of pace.  Arsenal play a very high line and that is what caused Senderos such trouble at times.  Players with pace caused him so many problems when running in behind him.  Fulham sit very deep, especially at home as Craven Cottage has such a small pitch.  Unless Wenger wants to adapt the whole side to sit deeper and play on the counter attack, I worry that Hangeland’s lack of pace might be a problem.  He is a good reader of the game and a beast in the air.  The question is can Toure or Gallas pick up everything in behind him?
It is an interesting one.  I am not sure I would pay over £10m for a risk.
Joleon Lescott
I watched closely as Everton lost to Chelsea, and in particular watched Lescott.  He showed strength, timing and awareness, until the first Chelsea goal.  Drogba walked in unnoticed as he has done many times against us and planted the header in.  Lescott was a second too slow and it reminded me very much of the way Arsenal defend at times.
However, I know Wenger likes this lad and he has shown that he can do it at a high level with Everton.  He has played centrally this season now Baines has come on, but I still have my doubts.  I would rather have Phil Jagielka if we are buying an Everton centre half.  It is just a shame that he got injured so late on in the season.  I think his commitment and determination is what we need at the back.  Many would not have picked Jagielka but out of the English defenders available to us, he would be my pick.
Mahamadou Sakho
Although at 21 he seems a little young, this guy has played a lot of games for Paris Saint Germain.  He was thrown into the side young because of his natural ability as a defender.  At 6 ft 1 he is able to dominate the aerial ball but also provide calmness at the back that defies his years.  I think he could prove a brilliant partner for Gallas as the two would compliment each other splendidly.
If Wenger can get a balance in the defence, he will be nearly there to sorting out our habit of leaking goals.  The final piece in the jigsaw is a defensive midfielder. So who have we been linked with?
Gareth Barry
For me, this is the perfect transfer.  Barry has been excellent for Villa this season and in my view, the main reason, along with Martin Laursen, that Villa challenged for 4th spot.  He bosses the midfield with ease and often goes unnoticed, as good midfielders can do.  For England he has played most games under Capello because he does the dirty work easily.  His tackling has improved and his reading of the game has come on leaps and bounds.
He has the desire to win things as one can see through his desire to play Champions League Football.  We need a few people that really show grit and hunger to achieve success in the short term.  Barry only has one year left to run on his contract which suggests that Villa will cash in should Barry ask to leave.  The figure that was mentioned last year was at least £15m but due to Barry’s contract situation, I can see this dropping to somewhere around £8m.  For an England regular in central midfield, that sounds like good business.
Lorik Cana
This transfer would really put me in high spirits.  Think Flamini with anger management problems.  If you think about how Flamini attacked Nani at Old Trafford, and then multiply it by 10, you get Cana.  This guy simply loves to tackle, is prepared to leave the attacking to his team mates and has a domineering presence on the pitch.  His tackles are firm and sometimes a bit dirty but that is how you make opponents fear you.  I can picture Cana patrolling the midfield while the likes of Cesc, Theo, Nasri and Arshavin roam free to score goals.
Look at the video below and tell me you would not want this guy bossing our midfield.
For anyone worried about his disciplinary record, he has only had 1 red card and 7 yellows this season.
I say sign him up!!
Lorik Cana Video
The final position that I will address is up front.  If Adebayor stays, as Wenger says he would prefer, then nothing will be changed in the striking department.  We have Eduardo, Van Persie, Adebayor and Bendtner to occupy the front roles.  Arshavin’s best position is arguably as a second striker also.  With that many options, Wenger does not need to change much.
Should Ade leave, as many believe will happen, Wenger has a decision to make.  Is Van Persie or Bendtner ready to lead the line in the same way Ade did last season?  Can Eduardo play the role as the main striker?  Can Arshavin be used as a second striker?
Eduardo, if he can get fit, will score plenty of goals next season.  He is the best finisher at Arsenal and arguably in England from what we have seen.  Premier League matches have become so tight in the modern era and this backs the claims to give Eduardo as many games as possible.  He is the only striker we have that makes me think he WILL score every chance he gets.  For Croatia he plays alone up front with attacking midfielders in support in a similar manner to the way Wenger has set up recently.  I believe this could work but Wenger may want a partner for Eduardo.  Looking at how Eddy and Ade worked together before the horrific leg break, I would not blame him for wanting a similar partnership
Bendtner has improved a lot this season but is still learning.  His main impact has been off the bench and Wenger may see this as his main purpose for one more season.  Van Persie has tried his best in the lone striker’s role but for me should be the one playing off the man who is furthest forward.  This is how he can pick up space, make clever runs and link up play.  Therefore, if Adebayor does leave, Wenger may look to address this loss.  Here are a few potential options
Karim Benzema
The Guardian newspaper had a piece last week in which they said Benzema could join us if Ade goes to Milan.  I am inclined to agree.  There is no doubt that Benzema has the qualities to fit in here.  Despite his strong frame and heading ability, he can join in with good attacking football on the ground.  He would offer a Plan B if all is not going to plan and I think he would really compliment all the strikers at the club.
The only stumbling block would be the transfer fee craved by Lyon’s chairman; a man who has the reputation of standing firm when it comes to money.  The money raised from Ade’s sale would no doubt help and Arsenal’s French connections might help to swing the deal in our favour.  Benzema would be linking up with Arsenal team-mates which would help to draw him to the Emirates.
For those of you who have not seen much of this guy, the video below will show you what he can do.
Karim Benzema Video
Edin Džeko
Arsene Wenger has been linked with a move for the Wolfsburg striker.  He is an unknown entity to me and I have only seen YouTube clips of him.  From what I can decipher from these, he is a poacher, a good header of the ball and someone who can hold up play.  However, the German League is deceiving as players generally score far fewer goals when they come to England.  Defences are, on the whole, weaker in Germany and it is not always as simple as looking at a striker’s record there.  He has had one good season and I think it is too much of a gamble.
Below is one of the videos I have seen
Edin Džeko Video
If Wenger decides Arsenal are going to play in a similar fashion to Barcelona, he may scrap the idea of a tall target man leading the line.  That would suggest Wenger would not buy anyone and use Arshavin as a striker or even Walcott through the middle.  He may look to sign someone like David Villa in the hope that he can adapt to the Premiership.  Torres showed that Spaniards can do well here and Villa has all the hallmarks to succeed.  He is a good finisher, strong and skilful on the ball; then again so was Reyes.
Whatever happens, this summer is going to be an interesting one.  Be prepared for Arsenal to be linked with a hatful of players and often with the same players as Spurs.  Expect some odd rumours and knowing Wenger, await signings that in no way correspond to my list above.

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