By Vince Fusco
So here we are, the middle of July, just a few weeks from the kickoff of the new season. If you are like me, you have been feeding your football addiction with the Copa America, Women’s World Cup, and Gold Cup. But let’s be honest, what we really need is some Premier League and it can’t come quick enough. The silly season is in full swing and it is hard to ignore, even for the most level-headed supporter, and I thought it would be a good idea to go down that rabbit hole and see where we are and what Arsenal might do this summer. So here we go!
First things first, let’s assess some of the areas of need for the squad. Arsenal already took care of GK and that has been assessed to death, so I will let you, savvy reader, Google those articles in your own time. Second on this list, is the infamous defensive midfielder role. This time last season, we were staring down the barrel of Arteta and Flamini as our main options. While I still love Arteta and the leadership that he brings to the squad, he was on the back half of his career and he wasn’t exactly the stopper that we needed in the center of midfield. Couple that with Flamini who was brought in to be a backup and it was slim pickings for Arsenal. Many fans thought, shit, another season of bullying the mid-table teams and getting worked in the midfield by the top teams. But then, like a beautiful gift from the heavens of Charlton, comes Francis Coquelin and the season turned, Arsenal’s confidence turned and we had it, our CDM at long last and for free! The man who once played a part in one of the worst drubbings in recent memory, had come back and he was fuckin’ excellent. So there it was, problem solved right? Wrong! Many supporters, including myself, get very worried with our injury history that there is no depth at such a key position. Again, Arsenal do have Arteta as backup, but we all know that he isn’t going to play the major role that Coq played at the back half of the season. So here is the conundrum, does Arsenal pony up the cash and pay 24-27 million pounds for someone like Schneiderlin, who by all accounts has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League for the last couple seasons. Well it is clear that didn’t happen, scooped by United! But is this a bad thing? Personally, I think Arsene saw the price climbing above 20 million and backed off. It is clear that Arsene sees the future of the DM role for Arsenal as Coq’s and it’s hard to blame him. Coq’s numbers were just as good as Schneiderlin’s last season and we don’t have to pay 25 million pounds for him either. It is also clear, that Arsene loved the chemistry of the team toward the back half of last season and that he did not want to mess around by demoting Coq for the bright and shiny (expensive) new DM in Schneiderlin. But that still doesn’t mean Arsenal can’t get cover at that position. Players like Wanyama (Schneiderlin’s playing partner at Southampton) could be available for the right price and it would still be cheaper than the 25 million or so that United had to drop. We have also seen some whispers of either of the Bender brothers, Lars and Sven, possibly making the move and yes for much cheaper. Sure those options don’t seem like they would have the immediate impact of Schneiderlin or even the quality but if Arsene has already anointed Coq as the starter, then those options would be great cover and I wouldn’t complain at all.
So now that we have that out of the way, what about the other area of need? Striker anyone? Sure, Giroud is coming off one of his best season’s in his career, not only in an Arsenal shirt but in any shirt period (even though our man has been known to take that shirt off for some modeling). But there is a feeling in the back of all our heads, what if Arsenal had an Aguero type that fateful night in Monaco? What if we had that ‘mean bastard #9’? If we could upgrade on that position by adding 15-20 goals a year, would it mean a real chance at the league title? A good run in Champions League? Who really knows the answers to those questions? The problem it seems, looking at the market and the available players, who is a sure fire player that is that much better than Giroud? Higuain? If anyone has watched him play in the final of the last two major international tournaments, we know that is a hard pass. Arsenal don’t need another player who doesn’t show up in big games. Benteke? Personally, I have always rated him but it’s hard to see Liverpool not dropping all their Sterling money to get him and I don’t think Arsene is all that interested. Lacazette? This seems to be the most interesting of the options. He seems to check a lot of the boxes for someone that could help Arsenal. Young and fast, he poured in a boat load of goals in a league not typically known for scoring. If the price is right (25-30 million), I could see Arsenal making a real go for him and in my opinion, I think it would be worth risk for a relatively un-proven player. Finally, I couldn’t talk about the striker position without mentioning my personal favorite, Karim Benzema. We have all heard the rumors linking the Madrid man to Arsenal with some of the formation changes that Rafa will be bringing to Los Blancos. While it is hard to see such a proven player leaving a situation like Madrid, I would love to see Arsenal pick up another world class player from the Madrid excess. At 27, he is exactly what Arsenal need and I think he could be bought for less than City payed for Sterling. Only time will tell on the striker position as it seems that Arsene is content to wait and see the dust settle.
Other than that, I think Arsenal is in great shape. Stacked at midfield and loaded on the backline. They are in a position to do some real damage, or are they? One position that doesn’t get talked about that I could see beefing up is left back. With Gibbs not living up to expectation and Monreal not exactly my first choice (he admittedly did a great job last season) this could be an area that can be upgraded. Looking back at the last few league champions, they all had excellent defenses. I really think that is the key to winning the Premier League. Ok so left back, who is available? Well I haven’t heard any names so I will leave that up to you sleuths. Although, I did hear about a certain Bayern player…nah forget it.
I hoped you enjoyed reading my transfer musings. If you are relatively new to the silly season and want to jump right into the craziness. Here are some good links to pass the days before the season kicks off:
· http://www1.skysports.com/transfer-centre/ - One of my favorite aggregators of all things transfer related. Not the 100% reliable but still a solid site. Updates in real-time.
· http://www.espnfc.us/blog/transfer-talk/79/index - Another story aggregator. Doesn’t update as much as Sky. But still worth perusal.
· https://www.reddit.com/r/Gunners - Probably the best Arsenal forum out there. Lots of good links and discussion. Well run and always new topics.
· Twitter accounts to follow
o @bbcsport_david – Always reliable, seems to have really good connections at Arsenal and around the EPL
o @johncrossmirror – Also pretty reliable even though he works for the Mirror.
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