Barcelona Transfer Rumors: Why Arensal Is the Best Fit for Ibrahim Afellay

Marques EversollAnalyst IJuly 13, 2012

Ibrahim Afellay is likely to be moved, but will it be to Arsenal?
Ibrahim Afellay is likely to be moved, but will it be to Arsenal?Julian Finney/Getty Images

Whether it's an unproven young prospect or an established veteran, money controls the player's fate.

Desperate to free up the necessary funds to bolster their defense, Barcelona is determined to sell Dutch midfielder Ibrahim Afellay to the highest bidder.

Although a slew of injuries have hindered the progress of the young winger, Barca should have no problem finding a club willing to offer six million Euros in exchange for Afellay's services. The two clubs that appear to have both a need and an interest in the winger are Arsenal and Inter Milan.

Arsenal will have to look elsewhere after they were left empty-handed when Rennes midfielder Tongo Doumbia decided to join West Brom. Fortunately for the Gunners, they'll have an opportunity to add Afellay at a bargain price after his performance has declined since joining Barcelona.

Prior to signing with the Catalan club in 2011, Afellay was coveted by Arsene Wenger. Now one year later, it appears Arsenal is again a top candidate to acquire the Dutchman after Yossi Benayoun recently left Arsenal to return to Chelsea.

The departure of the 32-year-old Benayoun leaves a void for an attacking midfielder—a hole that could be filled by the 26-year-old Afellay.

Barcelona is currently in a bind financially trying to sign Javi Martinez, so they're looking to part ways with some of their players. Afellay is one of their most appealing assets to other squads. Much of the decision on what to do with the Dutch midfielder relies on the judgment of new Barca coach Tito Vilanova.

After being an assistant for Barca the past four seasons, Vilanova enters his first season as head coach with having to make a decision between selling Afellay so he can keep other players or keeping Afellay and looking elsewhere to free up additional funds.

Vilanova would be wise to sign off on selling Afellay, as the funding that could be attained in exchange for him would be vital given the team's current financial questions. And despite drawing the interest of Inter Milan, Arsenal looks like the best partner for a potential player-for-money swap after already having lost out on Doumbia this summer.

A similarly frustrating scenario unfolded a year ago when Arsene Wenger failed to adequately prepare for the impending departures of Cesc Fabragas and Samir Nasri. Scrambling to fill the team's holes just hours before the transfer window closing, Wenger took what he could get in Benayoun and Mikel Areta.

In order to avoid a painful replication of last summer, Arsenal must actively pursue another midfielder despite being disappointed in Doumbia's decision to join West Brom. There is a seamless fit for Arsenal, and it comes in the form of a player the Gunners tried to add a year ago.

Prior to signing with Barcelona, Afellay was labeled the "next big thing" in Dutch soccer. Dutch legend Robin van Persie's future in Arsenal is in doubt; but regardless of whether he returns or not, Wenger must stay active and pursue young talent.

With a promising young player available at an affordable price, Arsenal should pull the trigger on the Dutch young gun by making a move for Afellay.