Arsenal will be—should be—in the transfer market this summer, looking to buy players to supplement the present squad.
Given the problem the team faced at the beginning of the current season due to the loss of two key players, and—for some reason—the inability to buy their replacement in time, it'd behoove Arsene Wenger and the club's management to enter the coming market swiftly to forestall a repeat of history.
The sentiment right now seems to be that if Wenger could strengthen the present squad with two or three additional players in key areas, the team should position itself to win a trophy or two in the coming season.
The Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal already have agreed to terms with German international, Lukas Podolski, for a summer move to the club from FC Köln. If this is true, it would appear that one major area of need has been handled.
Whatever the merit of this rumor, the normal summer clamor for transfer signing will inevitably return with no less force than in previous years. To this end, every fan, or section of fans, has a list of favorite players considered viable for the club.
I make and rank one such list in the following. The ranking is informed by my perception of where I believe the current squad needs strengthening. I am sure the reader will rank the list differently. Accordingly, I look forward to hearing what readers think.
Club: Schalke 04, Bundesliga
Arsenal have been interested in the German junior international who plays for Schalke 04 and appears to be a bright future prospect. Signing him may not yield immediate dividends, but since he'd come relatively cheap it'd be a good investment for Arsenal.
If signed at all, he should be in addition to whatever signings are made to meet the immediate need of the current squad.
My agent informed me that Inter have shown interest [in me]. It's a great feeling and new for me. I am tremendously honoured by such a thing.
I've read that Arsenal have interest in me. That made me very happy.
However, the player, who is tied to Schalke until 2016, revealed he has no intention to leave Gelsenkirchen in the near future.
I've only been a professional for a year and would like to establish myself. My heart is here at Schalke, and I do not think for one second about a change, because I see my future at Schalke. I didn't sign until 2016 for nothing.
The deal about his affection for Schalke is the standard thing for a player to say, of course.
Club: West Bromwich Albion
Arsene Wenger is reportedly putting together a £4 million bid for the Nigerian, who impressed in his first full season in the Premier League.
Peter Odemwingie may move to Arsenal this summer if West Brom secure Danny Graham (PA)Odemwingie's move to Arsenal would relieve the pressure on Robin van Persie to score goals for the Gunners and Wenger believes it may be the answer to ending Arsenal's trophyless streak, which now stretches six seasons.
There you have it, from the mouth of the horse itself, the horse being Metro Sport.
Odemwingie scores goals, but it's a move that won happen.
Age isn't on his side. Plus, he has fitness issues.
Position: Defensive Midfield
Club: RSC Anderlecht, Belgian Pro League
"Manchester United, Arsenal and Fiorentina are interested in Anderlecht midfielder Lucas Biglia," Scott Murray wrote for The Guardian back in December in fulfillment of his obligation as the paper's rumor mill attendant.
Talk Sport describes him as follows:
The Argentine has been compared with fellow countryman and ex-international Fernando Redondo, because of his fantastic ability to pick out balls across the field, find space, break up play as well as being successful as a deep-lying playmaker.
A defensive midfielder who is also very good on set pieces, Biglia could be an affordable cover for Alex Song. Arsenal are said to have contacted him in January.
Club: AC Milan, Serie A (QPR on loan)
The Nigeria international, linked with Arsenal in January, is rediscovering himself at QPR. The AC Milan reject could yet come to Arsenal as an extra cover to the left-back position, a position still not secure due to Kieran Gibbs' fragile nature.
Did Gibbs limp off the pitch in the last match or is it just my imagination?
Anyway, if Arsenal are thinking about an extra left-back, here's one, already adapting to the Premier League.
Club: Lyon, Ligue 1
Or Arsenal could sign Aly Cissokho, who also was heavily linked with Arsenal in January. He is said to be worth £8 million, but I believe the only reason why he was linked with Arsenal had to do with Arsenal needing a left-back in January.
Is he an Arsenal material? I don't know. All I can say is that Inter Milan considered him good enough one time to be signed, although they canceled the deal in a controversial circumstance.
Cissokho hasn't scored any goals in 25 League appearances. Although it isn't a must for him to do so, as his primary duty is defending.
Club: Sochaux, Ligue 1
Last summer Arsenal appeared to be on the brink of signing Martin, only for the player to extend his contract with Sochaux until 2015. This, though, does not mean he may not leave Sochaux this summer.
"Last year, I wanted to stay in France. This year I'm ready to go abroad," he is reported as telling L'Equipe in a recent interview.
Although Lyon is said to be interested in him, Martin might prefer to come to Arsenal. He acknowledges speaking with Arsenal last summer.
"We had good a talk and we found an agreement. The officials made a promise. Indeed, an agreement to let me leave. I will remain at Sochaux until the end of the season."
As a creative midfielder type, Martin might be the player Wenger settles for since the price of other options might be exorbitantly inflated. The one thing against him is that his scoring stats aren't impressive at all, and so can hardly be said to be an improvement on what Arsenal posses currently in the creative midfield department.
Plus, since Paris Saint-Germain are interested in him, Sochaux could use the fact to inflate his price as well. That could deflate Arsenal's interest.
Find his YouTube summary video here.
Club: Blackburn Rovers, English Premier League
Which player of note on this planet is not linked by transfer rumors to all the major clubs in the world? And so it is that Junior Hoilett has become the latest to be linked to all the big English clubs, with Arsenal said to be "leading the chase" for his signature.
One almost thought for a moment that Arsenal have now become a hound. And why wouldn't one think so when here I am, listing 20 players linked to Arsenal, as if to say Arsenal would buy all of these players?
And yet fans must have their transfer rumors, the regurgitated content notwithstanding.
Anyway, Arsenal are said to have their sight firmly trained on Hoilett, who could bring his salvific touch to the Emirates.
Honestly, I don't think Arsenal should sign Hoilett, but again, rumors are rumors, and they've linked Arsenal to Hoilett, so what can one do but write about it?
I should add though that Hoilett does have promise and that he is young enough to be a bright future prospect, so on this ground alone, he could be considered a good signing for Arsenal.
Club: Montpellier, Ligue 1
Olivier Giroud has scored has scored 18 goals in 27 league appearances this season for Montpellier. This isn't bad at all, especially if your aim is for a supporting striker. It is why (his poacher's instincts, that is) he is the leading scorer in Ligue 1 in the ongoing season.
"[Wenger] has instructed Giles Grimandi, his chief scout in France, to carefully monitor Giroud for the rest of the season," writes Jeremy Wilson for The Telegraph. Should this be true, and were Arsenal to sign him, then it appears the club is really planning to win the league next season, since it is understood they've already signed Lukas Podolski.
Club: Lyon, Ligue 1
Arsene Wenger ruled out a loan move for Gourcuff in January. He was emphatic when the question was put to him by reporters.
No. In midfield I have Wilshere and Diaby, who will be back, and that would mean a lot of players.
He has been out for four or five months and what happens to him now is normal. He's played his first few games only on his desire and, after an injury, it's normal to have a dip," Wenger said.
However I see a positive future for [Gourcuff]. I think he will come back to his best level.
Will Wenger reconsider this summer? Time will tell.
In any case, the player, once tipped as Zinedine Zidane's successor wouldn't be a bad signing for Arsenal at all, especially when fully fit. On the contrary, he would be a wise signing position-wise, since Arsenal could do with an additional creative midfielder.
Club: RSC Anderlecht, Belgian Pro League
Matías Suárez was all the rage in January with reports claiming he had come to an agreement with Arsenal for a move in the summer.
Here's an entry by Caughtoffside in January:
A respected Argentinian football journalist Javier Perez has announced via his twitter account that the deal has been done. He said about Suarez: The deal will not be officially announced until later on in the season, as there are still a few bits and pieces that need to be ironed out.
Arsenal wanted him to move during the January transfer window, but will be happy to have reached a compromise that sees them securing a player they have admired and watched many times last year.
Perez finally actually spoke to the player himself, who also confirmed to us that he has signed a not so “secret” pre contract with Arsenal for the summer.
Let's say I always feel like I have been caught offside by news from this site. In any case, when summer comes, we shall see about the validity of this news.
I believe he will be a good signing for a supporting striker.
Club: Sunderland, English Premier League
Sessègnon has been in superb form for Sunderland this season and although Arsenal are thought to be the favourites to sign him after he caught the eye of Arsène Wenger, the Benin international is also attracting interest from PSG.
This is just one of the reports liking the Benin international to Arsenal. Stéphane Sessègnon doesn't have the guile or tricky associated with the No. 10, but like Clint Dempsey (see below) he compensates for this with tireless work.
If Arsenal sign him, I'd applaud the signing for the fact that Sessègnon will bring a much-needed physical presence to Arsenal's midfield. A 10-month season requires a squad with players of different attribute. There are matches where what is required is the kind of attribute Sessègnon would bring to Arsenal.
Club: Fulham, English Premier League
Still hot on The Guardian's rumor mill is this entry:
Fulham face a fight to hold on to goal ace Clint Dempsey, a £10m target for Arsenal and Tottenham. Manchester United, who already have a couple of popular Americans in the boardroom, are also interested.
At 29, Dempsey is on the old side for Wenger, plus he isn't the most creative of midfielders, but what he lacks in this department he makes up in tenacity and dedication. Plus, he has been scoring goals this season. Furthermore, Mikel Arteta's impact at Arsenal argues favorably for the mixing of youth with experience.
Dempsey is a match winner—the type you need to grind out a one-nil victory or to chase after a victory, or to kill off a match.
I would applaud his signing.
Club: Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga
Shinji Kagawa is Borussia Dortmund's most important midfielder in the absence of Mario Götze, who is out for most of the 2011-12 season with injury.
Kagawa was Dortmund's star in 2010-11 season before being eclipsed by Götze. Although most would consider the latter more skillful, Kagawa isn't far behind. He is solid in possession, and his vision and reading of the game is very good. He wouldn't be a bad signing for Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger is said to have turned his sights on Kagawa after it became clear Götze wouldn't be coming to Arsenal. Reacting to this interest, Kagawa is quoted by Nikkan Sports as saying:
If I get a formal offer, I'll be strongly interested in listening to what they have to say.
The Premiership is one of the leagues I want to challenge. If it is Man United, I'll be still more eager to go and try how much I can do there.
Kagawa hasn't extended his contract with Dortmund, so he might be interested in coming to Arsenal.
Club: Newcastle United, English Premier League
Demba Ba has a nose for goal despite being overshadowed by countryman Papiss Cissé in recent weeks. His introduction to the Premier League has been remarkable.
He would be a very good signing for Arsenal, who in January were said to be interested in signing him in the coming summer.
He is a poacher type who can help arrest those inevitable elusive matches that a team needs to win to remain competitive in seasonal campaigns.
You need someone who can turn half chances to goals? Demba Ba is your man.
Club: Ajax, Eredivisie
So as not to reinvent the wheel, let me recall what I wrote in early match.
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.
Although I think a creative midfielder should be Arsenal's priority, the signing of Vertonghen would make a great deal of sense considering his dexterity.
A well-rounded player is the kind of player a long campaign, such as the league competition needs.
The player himself has expressed his desire to join Arsenal.
Club: Stade Rennes, Ligue 1
Speaking to Canal+, Yann M'Vila hinted his interest in Arsenal early this month.
Inter, Arsenal, Real ... I will take the fun everywhere! These are great clubs. If the coach calls you and tells you he wants you to make you play, especially a French coach, it changes everything. The important thing for me is getting playing time for the France team.
The French coach here apparently is Arsene Wenger.
Meanwhile, if Marcel Desailly were to be Wenger, he'd just close his eyes and cough up whatever cash is needed to secure his countryman's signature.
He believes M'Vila will be greater than Patrick Vieira, if only he can do away with the distraction of playmaking, which M'Vila, like Alex Song, dabbles into. Desailly, it appears, likes them clean and square, but if Song's game is anything to go by, Wenger won't mind M'Vila's adventurous side.
Great players seldom are predictable.
In any case, valued at about £22 million, Arsenal would likely count themselves out of the bidding game. The only hope of seeing M'Vila in the red and white would be if the player shunned the big riches to be had in other places.
Were he to come to Arsenal, I'd consider him a very good signing.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club: Ajax, Eredivisie
Christian Eriksen burst upon the world stage in the 2010-11 season as sensationally as Jack Wilshere. His solid performances earned the Dutch and Danish Young Player of the Year award for 2011.
Since his solid performance in a friendly match against England for his country Denmark, Eriksen has become the subject of interest from Europe's major clubs.
His connection with Ajax and Dutch football in general means, if signed, he will come to Arsenal well-schooled in Wenger's preferred style of football.
Forget Eden Hazard, who will cost a fortune. Eriksen will cost less for similar value.
I know all about Tottenham. They have great players like Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric.
They are a very nice team and play very well. And of course I know all about Arsenal too. They play beautiful football.
But I know I'm not ready for the next stage yet. That's why I am staying here to learn. I have the quality to play at Ajax and the biggest thing for me now is to be playing.
I wouldn't want to go somewhere else now just to sit on the bench. That would be a step back and I don't want that for my career.
Note the prudent sentiment about warming the bench. I do not think it's a fear that'll come to pass at Arsenal.
Club: Lille, Ligue 1
Eden Hazard is yet to recreate his club form at international level, but so does Lionel Messi. Hazard is coveted by the top clubs and is happy to flirt freely with them.
For example, one day his move to Tottenham is imminent—a report that left a few Arsenal players on the brink of tears—the next he is very interested in coming to Arsenal—sigh of relief from those who just now were on the brink of tears.
One thing is clear, Hazard, his agent and Lille want big money from interested clubs, which means Arsenal will count themselves out eventually, despite the fact that Wenger likes him.
"I like Eden Hazard a lot," says Wenger, "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.
But for the inevitable inflated price, he could be Arsenal's solution for the creative midfield position. He has been compared to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Club: FC Köln, Bundesliga
If rumors are to be believed, Lukas Podolski is practically Arsenal's player. That's good, since he will bring his goal-scoring instincts to Arsenal—instincts that have been particularly potent for Germany, as has been this season for his his club FC Köln.
Arsenal have been lucky to have Robin van Persie fit for an entire season. If they are able to keep him, it wouldn't be a good idea to go another season without a proven goal scorer for cover. Podolski is a proven scorer.
His dimension is such that he can be employed in the false-11 position, plus his coming will provide a viable option for a switch to 4-4-2 from time to time.
If signed, he could be Arsenal's most important signing for the 2012-13 season.
The positions emphasized in this list are striking and attacking midfield. These, I believe, are the areas in need of strengthening for next season.
Wenger is in search also, it seems, of a holding midfielder, perhaps in a bid to provide immediate cover for this position.
Some fans believe the left-back position should also be strengthened, since Kieran Gibbs has fitness problem.
Whatever our speculations and desires are, though, they will have little effect, if any, on the real summer purchases. That, though, doesn't mean the exercise ceases. What would fanhood be without this?