Arsenal Transfer Rumor: Arsène Wenger Should Try to Land Montpellier Duo
Arsenal fans who plugged into the Ligue 1 even the slightest bit will look at Younes Belhanda and Olivier Giroud and remember something.
Three seasons ago, the midfield-striker duo of Yoann Gourcuff and Marouane Chamakh led Bordeaux to the Ligue 1 title, topping Marseille by three points to clinch the top spot. The two of them were primary targets for excellent teams (though not sides like Barcelona and Real Madrid), like Arsenal.
The summer after that, while Gourcuff went to Lyon, Wenger managed to sign Chamakh, and Arsenal fans got high hopes. However, both of them flopped at their respective clubs; both of them playing on rare occasions and scoring very few goals.
The big part of this story is the regret that Gourcuff was not brought to the Emirates, because who knows, he could have thrived in a passing-oriented football team, helping Robin van Persie up top.
Anyway, the point of this story is that capitalizing on situations like this can be crucial. What do I mean by "situation like this?"
First of all, the two players are well-fit for Arsenal. Montpellier play a game vaguely similar to Arsenal. The Gunners, however, don't have a lot of players like Belhanda, who can take on several players at a time with great moves and lightning-quickness.
It just seems that Arsenal are so bent on a pass-pass-pass strategy, that their players aren't so good at taking on players one-on-one; except for the occasional van Persie fake-out. Belhanda, a trickster with a variety of clever moves, has not only a strong right foot, but also the confidence to shoot from range, which would be greatly welcomed at the Emirates.
But he's not the type of player who keeps the ball from his teammates. He uses his moves to get by defenders, and enjoys setting up strikers as a result; though, his four assists in the 2011/2012 Ligue 1 season don't tell the whole story.
He may not have the vision shown at Arsenal by Cesc Fabregas, but moves and quickness are things the Spaniard lacked.
The only issue with Belhanda is his slight lack of discipline. He can be a little dirty at times, and he incited a fight in Montpellier's encounter with Evian Thonon Gaillard.
And in light of Robin van Persie's possible departure, a natural scorer must be replaced with a natural scorer: Olivier Giroud. Giroud was tied with PSG's Nene for the most goals in the entire Ligue 1, but nine of Nene's goals were penalties, while Giroud only needed two penalties to get to that total.
Even if van Persie decides to stay at Arsenal, it would be great for the Gunners to have another great finisher at the club, maybe putting an end to the "one-man team" jokes. Like Belhanda, Giroud can take on defenders, and can also shoot.
One of Giroud's most important qualities in his aerial ability. A menace in the air, the Frenchman often connected with the spot-on set piece taking of Belhanda. On Arsenal, it seems that Vermaelen and Koscielny are the only first-team players who are really big threats in the air; and as one commentator remarked, "there is no harm in conceding corner after corner to Arsenal."
Who should Arsenal buy?
Giroud is expected to get a good amount of playing time with the French national team this year at the Euros—he will probably start, but there's a chance he will be a substitute.
The second major issue is price.
Belhanda's price could range anywhere between ₤10 million and ₤20 million, while Giroud could cost a bit more, maybe around ₤25 million.
Wenger should be able to afford this, especially if van Persie goes, but even if Arsenal don't get loads of money for the Dutchman, it's possible.
From The Metro's Jamie Sanderson:
"Arsenal are set to open the bidding for Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud, by offering £6.4million plus the services of Marouane Chamakh, according to French reports."
If this is the case, I'm sure Arsenal would be happy to get rid of Chamakh, with some fans demanding his release from Wenger. That seems like a fantastic deal for Arsenal, and for Chamakh, because he can start afresh in Montpellier.
And with that sale, they should easily be able to afford a Belhanda buy.
The last big box on the checklist is how they would be able to fit in with the depth of the current squad.
Let's start with Belhanda. Arsenal already have great depth in the midfield with Song, Arteta, Rosicky, a healing Jack Wilshere and the possible buy of Yann M'Vila (whose chances of getting signed are dropping with an injury that might keep him out of the Euros).
However, I think that if Belhanda is signed, he will be the priority over Rosicky, but maybe be about level with Arteta. If Arsenal get the Moroccan, it will be interesting to see what Wenger thinks of him compared with his opinion of Arteta.
Giroud, I think, is a no-brainer. As mentioned above, Arsenal's only natural scorer is van Persie, and there's no doubt that the Gunners desperately need someone to score some more goals. Even though a deal with Podolski has been agreed, Giroud, in my opinion, is a better buy than the German.
In conclusion, I think this midfield-striker pairing is ideal for Arsene Wenger's side. As the Gunners try to improve on their third-place finish and advance further in the Champions League, they will need more ruthlessness in front of goal.
No doubt, there will be offers coming in for the duo, but Arsenal need to be the early bird to catch the worms.
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