Arsenal Transfer News: Olivier Giroud Would Be a Better Signing Than Yann M'Vila
After Yann M'Vila had looked as sure as a sure thing can ever be to sign for Arsenal—transfer rumors are a notoriously tricky business, if one could even call them "business"—the heat, once so stifling, has died down somewhat in recent weeks.
France-based journalist Matt Spiro has said that the Rennes midfielder will address his future Friday in a press conference scheduled at Clairefontaine, where M'Vila is currently training with the French national team ahead of the European Championships.
While the likely starter for Les Bleus this summer promised to be ready to commit to his future following the end of the Ligue 1 season (it wrapped last Sunday), it doesn't seem likely he will choose that platform to announce his next club.
But that is of little matter.
The truth is, Arsenal have little need of Yann M'Vila at this juncture. His signing, while of the fan-pleasing variety—there is little doubt that he will be a world-class commodity within several years—isn't in Arsenal's best interests. It would be a sort of "getting what you want, but not what you need" deal.
Despite his obvious talent, which inspired French head coach Laurent Blanc to start him in midfield against Norway at the tender age of 20—it was Blanc's first match in charge, which spoke to the high regard in which he holds M'Vila—the Rennes man would only clog up Arsenal's midfield further.
Alex Song has been quite good as the defensive central midfielder for some three seasons now, and while he is making no secret about his desire to become a more attack-minded player (his propensity to launch forward in attack at any occasion speaks to that), at the moment there's no reason to move him from the position. Why mess with a good thing, right?
Besides Song, there's Francis Coquelin, who was excellent in the several games he got at the central midfield position, and Emmanuel Frimpong, whose determination and doggedness make him a natural choice.
Add Nico Yennaris, who played mostly as a right-back this season for the first team, but whose natural position, like Coquelin's (who also saw time at right-back), is in the center of the park, and you have a number of talented youngsters who might look to ply their trade elsewhere if a player like M'Vila is brought in.
Coquelin is the sort of talent Gunners fans might rue ever seeing leave the Emirates. Technique and composure on the ball cannot be taught, and Coquelin has both. Coupled with his terrific engine—he busts his lungs to get back in defense—you have a player destined to become a fan favorite for years.
We've already seen how continuing to stockpile world-class talent at one position (for years, it was the creative attacking midfielder) leads to problems with playing time.
Arsene Wenger did his best to get the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Andrei Arshavin—each of whom is a natural central player—out on the pitch at the same time, but there is a very real possibility that only two of those men will still be in an Arsenal shirt next season. (Fabregas and Nasri left before last season, and Arshavin could join them out the door this summer.)
While those departures might be attributed more to trophy chasing than dismay at being played out of position, the fact remains that Fabregas and Nasri still left.
Just think if Abou Diaby (ever) returns to full fitness. Will he have a chance at playing time with Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Song likely fighting for the same positions? Not to mention the aforementioned youngsters?
Thus, we move forward to the forward position, which, outside of one talismanic Dutchman, is seriously lacking in consistent production. There are youngsters chock-full of talent—Benik Afobe is one of the brightest—but they, unlike Coquelin or Frimpong, are still a few seasons away.
Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-Young scored one league goal between them last season, and while that statistic could be chalked up to the fact that, well, Wenger never played them, the worry lingers that Robin van Persie could succumb to injury—the past season was his first full campaign in his eight-season Arsenal career; his replacements don't inspire too much confidence at the moment.
Chamakh has not looked confident since van Persie supplanted him as the starter in January 2011, and Park has just one season of Premier League experience under his belt, if you could even call it that.
They either appear not to have earned Wenger's trust (Park) or lost it (Chamakh).
The addition of Lukas Podolski, scorer of 18 league goals with Bundesliga side Cologne this past season, helps alleviate some of van Persie's burden, but that is not enough.
The best Premier League sides this season had at the very least two top-tier strikers to choose from—league winners Manchester City boasted Sergio Aguero and Eden Dzeko, Manchester United had Wayne Rooney and a rapidly blossoming Danny Welbeck (we'll leave that cigarette-smoking Bulgarian out of the discussion for the moment), and Champions League medal-winners Chelsea had Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres.
Arsenal's 4-2-3-1 formation makes it difficult to place more than one out-and-out striker on the pitch at a given moment, but one thinks that were he to have more top-quality poachers within his side, Wenger might make some adjustments.
It was the departure of the proven Emmanuel Adebayor, after all, that convinced Wenger to switch from 4-4-2—where Adebayor had teamed with van Persie up top—to the current 4-2-3-1.
Thus, the rumors that Wenger is looking to add the terrific Olivier Giroud, Ligue 1's top scorer this season with 21 goals, are welcome indeed.
Giroud has said before that he loves the French feel at the Emirates and, at 25, is actively looking for a move to a top club in Europe.
He could fit in well at Arsenal, where his imposing physical presence (he's 6'3"), impressive technical ability, mobility and shooting range—that last attribute separates him from Chamakh—would make him a breath of fresh air at the Emirates.
Wenger may be lining him up as a replacement buy should van Persie leave the club this summer, but even if the Dutchman stays, Giroud should be considered before M'Vila.
If Arsenal are to make good on their promise and pursue trophies next season, they will need a formidable attack. And one that can score goals when van Persie is not firing.
It is baffling sometimes, to think where Arsenal would have been this season without his 30 league strikes. It is no stretch of the imagination to think they would have missed out on the Champions League—not to mention the Europa League.
Giroud and Podolski help in that department and give Wenger the guns he needs to bring the first silverware into Arsenal since the 2005 FA Cup.
M'Vila is a great player, but he's not needed at the moment.
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