Arsene Wenger has expressed his fear about what the impact of the Africa Cup of Nations will be on his two strikers, Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho, who join their respective countries this week for the competition jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea later this month.
He says both players will be under immense pressure.
It is the equivalent of a player here going to the European Championship. They are under immense pressure.
It is a different climate [over there]. Usually we have snow in February here, so they come from a big temperature difference. Most of the time, they are dead [afterwards].
The absence of the two is the major reason club legend, Thierry Henry, has been signed on a two-month loan from the New York Red Bulls of the MLS. This is a short-term cover for Arsenal's striking problem, however.
Yours Truly (YT) reported yesterday that the search for a more permanent solution continues.
He recounted (if rather self-consciously) that the club is showing a strong interest in Matias Suarez, the 23-year-old Argentine striker who currently plays for Belgian giant Anderlecht.
That news immediately became hot item on B/R, making YT both amused and bemused since he found himself smack in the middle of the transfer swirl. It's also why he has taken to referencing himself in the third person.
But what can he say?
In the Suarez article, YT expressed his preference for Lukas Podolski, but encouraged readers to express their views and opinions on the subject.
YT wants to thank them very much for contributing interesting and engaging comments to that article.
Daily Mail has printed the following update on the Podolski signing, and it's highly speculative.
The Daily Mail piece begins:
Arsenal will make an £8 million bid for FC Cologne striker Lukas Podolski in the summer now that Thierry Henry has filled the gap up front short term with his loan move from New York Red Bulls.
After further comments on Arsenal and Thierry Henry and about the absence of Chamakh and Gervinho in January, Daily Mail remind readers that Henry leaves at the end of February, then conclude that it means
Arsenal will move for Podolski in the summer, after the German this week said that he favoured staying at Cologne until the end of the season, to be sure of making Germany’s first team at Euro 2012.
But though Cologne managing director Claus Horstmann claimed he was "optimistic" that Podolski would sign a new contract, the striker has just one year left on his deal come June and is keen to play in the Premier League.
This is no news, of course, and YT feels guilty for citing it. But he does have a reason for reporting it.
YT thinks that Podolski will never wear the Arsenal colors. Here's why.
If Arsenal were really keen on the striker, now would be the time to sign him, for although Henry has been signed as a cover for Robin Van Persie, Arsenal still need an experienced winger for the left flank, a position Podolski could filled in with immediate impact.
He could then rotate with RVP for the central striking position when Gervinho returns from the nations cup.
Andre Arshavin is available for the left wing position, of course, but the player hasn't been on fire exactly lately, and if reports are to be believed, he could be sold this January.
So what's stopping Arsenal from moving for Podolski now?
The price is affordable, and if the player expresses reservation for the move because he's afraid of losing his place in Germany's EURO 2012 squad, it's only natural.
Who wants to sign for Arsenal and go the way of Ju-Young Park and Yossi Benayoun?
There's no reason why Podolski shouldn't get immediate games if he signs now. Not signing him right away only indicates that Arsenal are not serious about the striker.
Here's the second reason why YT thinks Podolski will never play for Arsenal.
If Daily Mail are right in saying that the move for the German striker is shelved for the summer, it's unlikely that Arsenal would sign him at that time.
If he continues with his current goal-scoring form, by summer other clubs, such as Real Madrid or even Manchester City (never count them out where any player is on fire), could be interested in him by then, and they'll surely outbid Arsenal.
So here again is the question: If you really fancy this player, why not sign him now when there is no serious competition for his affection?
The observation is not completely unfounded.
Wenger dilly-dallied on defenders Gary Cahill and Chris Samba during last year's January transfer window because of a couple of million in the asking price. Two things happened.
It probably caused Arsenal the title, which in January, Arsenal were in a strong position to win by the end of the season.
At that point, it was apparent to everyone, including Wenger, that Arsenal's defense needed bolstering. Alas, he thought he could manage the season without reinforcement while saving a couple of million at the same time.
The rest is history, but it brings up the question of the Premiership title's worth for Wenger.
Here's the second thing.
When Wenger went back to bid for the duo in the summer transfer window, the price for each of the defenders had gone up by about £7 million. Talk about trying to save money.
YT foresees the same thing happening in the Podolski situation—that's if the club is truly interested in the German striker.
If you fancy the player, go for him. It makes no sense to wait.
But here's what frustrates YT the most.
He has observed the following pattern.
Arsenal identify a talent (such as Eden Hazard, to give just one more example), but instead of moving for the talent quickly to ward off competition, they dilly-dally (yes, this is YT's current favorite word) until other clubs muscle them out of contention.
It doesn't make sense, and it's a tad annoying.
YT would like to hear your opinion.
Meanwhile, check out his article on Wenger and Arsenal's referee problem.
If you want to know what players he'd like to see Arsenal buy either now or in the summer, he has written about it here.
You can see how his projection about how many points Arsenal would get at this point of the season and where Arsenal would be on the table was almost to a tee.
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