Arsenal Transfers: Olivier Giroud Arrival Hints at Robin Van Persie Exit
In spite of the ongoing European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine, it seems like all the Premier League clubs are still in transfer overdrive.
With promising Crewe Alexandra forward Nick Powell joining Manchester United yesterday, the focus has swiftly shifted to Arsenal, who now appear certain to seal a deal for Montpellier and France striker Olivier Giroud.
This transfer story has been doing the rounds for some time now, but it has suddenly gone into overdrive this morning, with Jeremy Wilson from London's Daily Telegraph reporting that a deal could be struck with the Ligue 1 winners in the next 48 hours.
The Telegraph are normally quite conservative when reporting rumors with such vehemence, so it looks like this might well be a done deal already. It is, however, likely that both clubs are waiting for France's next fixture—against hosts Ukraine on Friday—to get out of the way before making an announcement.
There is the obvious subplot to this rumor—the future of Robin Van Persie—and while Arsenal seem to be insisting that Van Persie will stay, I believe they might be omitting the words "for the present."
Giroud is predominantly left-footed, as is Arsenal's other new striker, Lukas Podolski. And while it is plausible that three left-footed strikers could play together, it is probably unprecedented.
There is, of course, a plethora of clubs with all right-footed strikers—Manchester United and Manchester City spring to mind immediately, as do Arsenal's Invincibles, prior to Jose Antonio Reyes's arrival—and no one's ever raised their eyebrows about that, have they?
How many more seasons does RVP have at Arsenal?
The Telegraph article goes on to say:
Podolski is most likely to play to the left of an attacking three, while Giroud will be regarded as crucial backup to Van Persie, especially as the Dutch forward can only be held at the club until the completion of his contract next year.
This was what got me thinking.
It is almost obvious that Van Persie is playing the waiting game with Arsenal. Firstly, he wants to evaluate the club's ambition during this transfer window. And additionally, he wants to witness a sustained tilt at all the major trophies next season. I agree with the general belief that he is not a Nasri-esque mercenary.
And while this delay might be frustrating, I think this wait-and-watch strategy might suit Arsenal to the tee. If, that is, they get Giroud. Having Van Persie at the club for at least another year while Giroud settles in has many advantages.
The Frenchman can learn from a masterful player for a full year without the pressure of having to score week in and week out. The club can have a top class backup, in Giroud, for the central striker's position. And from a financial perspective, Arsenal will not have to offer Van Persie a fat new contract and a sign-on bonus, as has been reported.
In the medium to long term, I don't see Giroud accepting the role of a backup striker. The joint-top scorer in Ligue 1 last season, he will certainly wish to be top dog after a year of bedding-in. He can, based on this video evidence. And who knows what Van Persie's form and fitness will be like once he turns 30 next summer.
He might be a player Arsene Wenger is willing to let go to have a swansong at a top European club, much like Thierry Henry did at Barcelona. And surprise surprise, if Arsenal have a barnstorming season, both player and club might happily sign on the dotted line, much like Dennis Bergkamp did in his twilight years.
It promises to be an interesting next few days. And as an Arsenal fan, I'm hoping this is not another Yann M'Vila-type "99 percent done deal."
Keep at it, Arsene. Like "Olivier" Twist, we'd like some more...
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