Arsenal Transfer and Tactics: 6 Summer Deals the Fans Would Go Crazy for
It's why newspapers write them and even out-rightly invent a number of rumors, and we at B/R are not ignorant of this.
You, our readers, like transfer rumors as much as you like your morning coffee or your afternoon tea, depending on whether you are American or British, or whether you lean towards either.
I hate transfers news that are just for the sake of it.
However, I enjoy reading the really good ones. A number of writers on B/R write really good ones. You find in the end that what the writer has done is inform you about players that matter in the leading leagues around the world.
I never thought I'd write transfer news, but I did in January.
I found that a writer can be creative (not in the sense of invention!) with them. I tried to be creative with them. Check here (!).
In the following slides, I examine six players Arsenal could buy this summer in the context of how each player could tactically affect the team.
So while this article seems to be about transfer, it doesn't stop there. I hope the readers enjoy it. I hope for a lively conversation as well.
I was still innocent and naive enough when I watched Argentina's Carlos Roa deny England to progress at France 1998 in the second round, or Claudio Taffarel of Brazil deny Italy's Daniele Massaro at the 1994 World Cup final, to put Roberto Baggio under pressure, who had to score to keep Italy's hopes alive.
As we know, Baggio ballooned his kick into the sky.
Goalkeepers are invaluable for a team, if less appreciated and paid lower than other players. Unfair, if you ask me.
I loved Carlos Roa. The surname—Roa, sounded like someone with intent, and so it proved against England.
The reader can name great goalkeepers who have single-handedly carried their team on their shoulders, 'keepers like Paraguay's José Luis Chilavert or Germany's Oliver Kahn.
Edwin van der Sar's steadiness in goal often proved the difference between victory and defeat for the Manchester club.
Many Arsenal fans would give a thumb up or two at the claim that David Seaman is one of Arsenal's greats and that, like van der Sar, he often rescued Arsenal from defeat.
"Mad" Jens Lehmann's unbeaten run towards the 2006 Champions League was a big part of the story of Arsenal's run in the competition that year.
Indeed, Lehmann's departure triggered a goalkeeper problem at Arsenal. Manuel Amulnia proved as effective as a sieve.
Watching Amulnia become a sieve, Łukasz Fabiański thought that must be what a goalkeeper is suppose to be, to the dismay of Arsenal fans. Thus was born the term Flapianski.
However, prior to the injury that led to his being second fiddle to Wojciech Szczęsny, Fabiański accounted himself well enough. In fact, but for that injury, he'd be Arsenal's first choice right now.
Since then, Szczęsny has become a revelation, so much so that the clanging chorus that rang at Arsenal for a goalkeeper has died. No one, anymore, is calling for a "world class" goalkeeper to be signed at Arsenal.
Most agree that Szczęsny is shaping up to be world class. He is not there yet, but few would deny the talent and the potential.
Fabianski, if he can recover his brilliant form prior to his injury, is an adequate second. But whether he'd remain content at second is a good question.
Will he leave this summer?
If he does who should replace him?
For a person who is claiming to write about "Deals the Fans Would Go Crazy for," it'd surprised the reader to hear him say he doesn't have a suggestion.
I do not believe that Michel Vorm, for example, would move to Arsenal to become a second fiddle.
Someone has suggested Shay Given. But would Given agree to be an understudy to the less experienced Szczęsny?
If you replaced Szczęsny, you'd stunt his growth.
There are other promising keepers as well: Tim Krul, Wayne Hennessey, whose heroics earned Wolves a point at Arsenal, and so on.
Or I could list unrealistic names such as Iker Casillas, which is why I hate transfer news because some writers would list names like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Mesut Özil as "Arsenal's Transfer Prospects" even though there's no chance that that would ever happen.
So I don't have any suggestions, because no top-class goalkeeper would come to Arsenal to become a second fiddle. Again, it'd only disrupt Szczęsny's progress.
So watch out for Fabiański to stay, or if he leaves, for Vito Manone to be promoted. Manuel Almunia will likely leave this summer. This will admit Manone to his place, while understudies such as Damian Martinez will be bumped forward.
Manchester United's escapades with David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard is a ready parable in impatience and contentment.
So no suggestion in goalkeepers.
Most Arsenal fans would whoop for joy if Sébastien Squillaci is sold this summer.
He was doing well enough when Arsenal bought him, but since coming to Arsenal, he has looked like the opposition's spy, planted in Arsenal's defense to aid them with scoring.
He should be sold even on the cheap.
That leaves Johan Djourou, whose contract Arsenal have sensibly extended as cover in central defense. He is a good enough fringe player that a team ineluctably must have.
Arsenal would need a second cover in the event of Squillaci's departure, which in all honesty should happen.
So who should that defender be?
Chris Samba is off to Russia. Fans' favorite name, Gary Cahill, is now a blue. Plus, his form hasn't been convincing this season.
Another parable: It may glisten in the bush, but it doesn't mean it will when brought home.
Will the departure (rumored) of Jose Mourinho convince Pepe to follow suit? But how much would he cost?
Pepe in action against Barcelona. Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.
At a good price, he could be a good signing for Arsenal. At 29, he is a little old, but Arsene Wenger tends to make exceptions for defenders whose maturity is a good indicator of their experience as defenders.
Pepe can also play in the holding position. Signing him would therefore make strategic sense, as he could cover for Alex Song and wouldn't have limited appearances due to the presence of the three other in-form central defenders: Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen.
Vertonghen might consider Arsenal a bigger club than Ajax and so might welcome a move to the North London club.
Vertonghen has become central to Ajax's backline this season. Daily Mail writes:
Vertonghen came through the ranks at Ajax having joined its famous academy as a 16-year-old. He was made captain this season but doubts remain over whether he will extend his current contract beyond 2013.
Watch the Belgian in action here.
Vertonghen tackles Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
It'd make a tactical sense to sign him since he is also effective as a defensive midfielder. Plus, Ajax's Total Football philosophy means that Vertonghen is a well-rounded player.
It'd cost Arsenal not less than £10 million to sign him, but I'd consider the signing a smart move.
Psychologically, it couldn't hurt to have another Belgian around Thomas Vermaelen. Plus, issues of adjustment, for the same reason, would be minimal.
Furthermore, Vertonghen will fit right in with the present central defenders: Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
And with Johan Djourou already available as cover, Arsenal would have four solid central defenders available for rotation from match to match.
Again, an addition to central defense will only happen if Squillaci is sold.
I will leave other suggestions to the readers.
Andre Santos will return before the season is over and will be available next season. After a shaky start at Arsenal, he has proven to be a good left-back who presses high on the pitch.
This fits in well with Arsenal's bent towards attacking. Kieran Gibbs did well at left-back in the Tottenham mauling, also pressing high on the pitch. Arsenal, thus, have good left-backs.
At right-back, Bacary Sagna's return already seems to rejuvenate Arsenal. His cover, Carl Jenkinson, is young but plays like a seasoned player. Again, if these players can remain fit. Arsenal have nothing to worry about at right-back.
Bacary Sagna in action. Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images.
And with players such as Ignasi Miquel and Nico Yennaris having debuted for the senior squad and done well, there would seem to be good options at full-back positions for Arsenal.
However, the signing of an additional player (preferably one with experience) would not hurt. If this were simply a silly exercise, I'd suggest Dani Alvez or even Marcelo Vieira, two excellent wing-backs.
Wishes are not horses. They will not come to Arsenal. Arsenal can't afford them.
So I will suggest Marcel Schmelzer, whom I have suggested in the past as a signing possibility for Arsenal. I gave the following reasons then (sorry to those who hate my habit of self-referencing, it is laziness):
[Marcel Schmelzer] plays at the left-back position, and although by summer both Andre Santos and Kieran Gibbs would be available for the same position, it wouldn't be a bad thing to sign Schmelzer to provide additional competition for the position.
He has become an important piece of the Borussia Dortmund team. And since Arsenal's signings are always done with an eye to the future, Schmelzer could be signed as the long-term replacement for Andre Santos, who at 28 may not stay at Arsenal for very long. Whereas at 24, Schmelzer could give Arsenal at least six years that could easily become 10.
This would be a strategic move precisely because Schmelzer would be around for a long time and so will be part of a strong Arsenal future team. I believe he'd be affordable.
Schmelzer powering forward. Photo by Julien Crosnier.
Here are few more names:
I am an admirer. Despite just returning from injury, he is already one of Liverpool's better players. He fits in with my title: "6 Summer Deals the Fans Would Go Crazy for."
I believe Gooners will go crazy alright, but Johnson will never be a Gunner. Arsenal don't have the kind of money that'll make Liverpool sell to a Premier League rival.
Gooners would go even crazier. Plus, he is still young enough to be part of a future Arsenal team. Madrid won't sell for pittance, the price Arsenal can afford. So this suggestion is only to make you, the reader, feel good, like popcorn does at a movie.
Filipe Luís Kasmirski
This is a more realistic name than the previous two, but whether Atlético Madrid would sell is the question.
He would be a good signing because he is also a quasi wing-back. Plus, he can also play as a midfielder.
We don't need a holding midfielder. Alex Song is doing well there, especially with the way Arsene Wenger has used the position and the box-to-box role this season, where the two positions modulate fluidly.
Moreover, Francis Coquelin is already available, a dexterous player. Following closely behind is Emmanuel Frimpong, who by the time the next season begins would have returned from injury.
Therefore, it wouldn't make financial sense to sign a holding player. We have them and we don't need more.
Jack Wilshere (if he heals completely) will be available for the box-to-box role in the coming season. He will share the role with the excellent Mikel Arteta. Rotation should minimize the danger of injury to either player.
Plus, Abou Diaby should be available at the beginning of next season. Diaby can play at any position in the midfield: Holding, box-to-box, creative attacking.
If he comes back and he follows Robin van Persie in remaining fit for the entire season, Arsenal's midfield would be one of the best in Europe.
So prospect wise, Arsenal do not really need a midfielder. You can see why Wenger is often reluctant to buy, because a survey can reveal quickly the good option already in hand.
That being said, it'd make a great deal of sense for Arsenal to sign an additional creative midfielder.
My first choice would be Eden Hazard, who, despite rumors that he'd prefer Tottenham, is still available for the highest bidder.
The only blight on Hazard is that he still has been unable to recreate his Lille form for Belgium, but in terms of ability to influence and control play, he is your candidate if his form at Lille is anything to go by.
Arsene Wenger recently said this of him:
I like Eden Hazard a lot, and for many reasons.
His creative ability, his talent for unbalancing opponents, his vision of the game, and his consummate skill in making the final pass all make him an in-demand player.
Hazard has what it takes to play for a top-level club, and Arsenal are a top-level club.
Fandom across Europe is abuzz with the prospect of Mario Götze becoming one of their own. On B/R, go to the Manchester United page and you'd think Götze is already a Devil.
Chelsea are sold on Luka Modrić, but make no mistake, mention Götze and it'd be like you've given every blue an electric jolt.
Manchester City, of course, have this policy that says "'if it sparkles outside, it's ripe for a City harvest."
For Liverpool, if you can show a video clip, they're all for it. So "you betcha" they've lined up some cool cash for Götze.
Don't start a fight by suggesting Mario Götze isn't already their player even though Dortmund are adamant they won't sell.
No writer is complete without writing a transfer rumor linking Götze with Arsenal. It has been the salt lacking in my bona fides, hence the reason I'm writing one now.
Now you know.
Gooner's would love to see Götze turn red. Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images.
Personally, I wouldn't mind Shinji Kagawa, but the last time I mentioned this, someone told me Kagawa is a poor man's Götze, notwithstanding the fact that before there was a Götze at Dortmund, there was first a Kagawa, who isn't a bad player at all.
Watch Dortmund and you'd see that 95 percent of their attacks are channeled through Kagawa. That's a good indicator of how good he is. Plus, he'd be cheaper than Götze.
Make no mistake, I like Götze and I'd like to see him in the Arsenal colors.
But the money to get him?
I don't think it's worth it for the precise reason that Arsenal could sign two top-class players at the amount they'd use to sign Götze.
But again, who wouldn't want Götze?
He is the one player that'll make the song "In Wenger We Trust" re-echo at the Emirates. So...
But here's a player I like that Arsenal could start a North London riot by signing: Giovani dos Santos.
This is the one Harry Redknapp seems to keep simply for the pleasure of tormenting. So why not rescue him by making him red?
He is a fine player, whose exclusion from Spurs' XI cannot cease to baffle me.
Two seemingly credible rumors (pardon the contradiction in terms) are that the Argentine striker Matias Suarez has a pre-contract agreement with Arsenal to move to the club in the summer. The second is the one still making the rounds that Lukas Podolski has come to some sort of agreement with Arsenal.
According to sources in Germany, Podolski has provisionally agreed to join Arsenal. No definitive deal has been struck, however, and there is the suspicion that it suits Cologne - and possibly also Podolski - to now encourage an auction.
Stale Solbakken, the Cologne coach, on Wednesday appeared to concede that Podolski could leave this summer but wants him to focus on finishing the season strongly.
“Lukas is currently an FC Cologne player,” said Solbakken.
Podolski could be looking for an auction. Photo by Ralf Juergens/Getty Images.
I list FC Köln among the teams I like. If you are baffled, it's because of Podolski. So I'll very much like to see him in the Arsenal colors.
Another rumor currently in vogue is that the reason why Robin van Persie hasn't agreed to open talks concerning renewing his contract—set to expire in a little more than a year—is because he wants to gauge Arsenal's ambition regarding whether or not the club will signal its intent towards competing for trophies by making some notable signings in the coming months.
Well, what better way than to sign Eden Hazard and Lukas Podolski?
Although, the one-man-team nonsense seems to have frittered away, it is common knowledge that Arsenal's greatest nightmare is an injury to van Persie.
Say "Injury to van Persie!" and every Gunner's and Gooner's knees turn to jelly and their hearts to mush.
So, Arsenal need a potent covering striker. Podolski has the attribute. Plus, he can cover either of the flanks. This signing would make a strong tactical sense, in terms of how he could fit into a team that modulates its formation.
I have followed Demba Ba since his Hoffenheim days. I wished we could sign him after his stint at West Ham United.
He is a poacher in the class of Ruud van Nistelrooy. Currently in Europe, only Klaas-Jan Huntelaar seems to have similar instincts. There's Chicharito, of course, but he can't seem to learn the finer details of the offside rule.
Demba Ba could be a good Gunner. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.
Darren Bent is not as celebrated, but he is a fine poacher as well.
Arsenal need a poacher for when winning ugly is called for, when you need to punt the ball upfront and hope the striker can do something. Well, Demba Ba does something alright and so does Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The signing of either would be a strategic move.
I'd take either of these two.
So who are the six players?
Demba Ba (or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar)
Don't you think they are six summer deals the fans would go crazy for?