Arsenal Transfers: 5 Trequartistas Who Would Make Gunners Trophy Contenders
I'm not even remotely suggesting that Cesc Fabregas can, should or will be re-signed. So don't go there.
But what I am saying is this: Arsenal scored 95 goals (besides own goals) in all competitions in 2011-12—their first season without Cesc, their creative genius. In the previous four campaigns, they got 114, 109, 109 and 110. No mere coincidence, in my opinion.
And I'm not sure what you think, but I believe that Cesc's position, that of the Trequartista, or playmaker, represents the only significant vacuum in Arsene Wenger's current squad. That is, assuming nobody significant other than Robin Van Persie leaves.
I believe Wojciech Szczesny is—or will soon be—world class. We're probably a little suspect at left back, but otherwise our defensive unit is excellent. That said, what I believe we do need is some really good defensive coaching.
Our midfield has quality and depth—remember, we missed Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere for all of last season—and up front, the acquisitions of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud give us world class quality.
In addition, there is a fantastic group of young players at Arsenal, many of whom show all the signs of being potential stars of tomorrow.
However, what we are missing is that one genius, that one magician—a visionary who can create something out of nothing or a highly skilled player who can do it all himself. A type of player we have been blessed with throughout the Arsene Wenger era, be it Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires or Cesc Fabregas. Theo Walcott and Gervinho do this in flashes, but that isn't good enough.
The problem, though, is that such players are not easy to find. And even if they do exist and are available, they are normally priced beyond the reach of Arsenal's finances.
This summer, however, there might well be a few trequartistas available on the market, and with the financial flexibility that Ivan Gazidis has promised to enable, the club might actually be able to land themselves one.
Go on, feast your eyes....
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This is the kind of signing that would have appeared way above Arsenal's league a few seasons ago. However, the Brazilian's massive dip in form at Real Madrid over the past few seasons have lowered his asking price to well below the £56 million he was acquired for.
Injuries have certainly played their part in Kaka's downfall—he has averaged 31 appearances per season at Real Madrid, as compared to 45 at AC Milan—but the greater contributor has definitely been the fact that he has had to share the limelight with a number of established and highly capable stars.
At Milan, his team mates were always looking to give him the ball. At Madrid, there are options aplenty—Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria, to name just three.
Were Kaka to come to Arsenal, he would undoubtedly take centre-stage. Arsene Wenger's quick passing game is the closest one can get to Brazilian football in the Premier League, so he would take little or no time to settle in.
The player himself stated towards the end of last season that he would like to stay in the Spanish capital, but with the impending arrival of Luka Modric, he might find playing time even harder to come by.
It is believed that Kaka is willing to lower his wage demands by as much as 40 percent, in order to facilitate a move away from los blancos. And in terms of a transfer fee, the player would probably be valued in the range of £20-£30 million.
It would come as a surprise were Arsenal to cough up that much, but at age 30, Kaka would certainly be worth it. I was surprised when I read this, but in 39 appearances—many as a substitute—in season 2011-12, Kaka got eight goals and 14 assists. Very handy indeed.
4. Paulo Henrique Ganso
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When news emerged that Santos star Ganso had probably played his last game for the club, a host of European clubs were rumored to be interested. One half of the Neymar-Ganso dream team had apparently grown disillusioned that the other half had been getting all the attention.
Often referred to as "the new Kaka," this video will highlight exactly why. Blessed with superb touch and fantastic vision, Ganso would be exactly the weapon Arsene Wenger's team needed to unlock stubborn defenses. Just like Fabregas did in his pomp. And he's left footed too, which seems to be the flavour of the month.
And if that video wasn't enough, here is a collection of his tricks and flicks that is sure to set Gooner pulses racing.
Arsenal are rumored to be keen on the 22-year-old Brazilian, who already has three assists in eight senior caps for his country. And he's no mug in front of goal either, as 35 goals in 157 games for Santos will testify.
If Arsene Wenger can land Ganso, it will represent a coup of epic proportions for Arsenal.
3. Ibrahim Afellay
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When the summer started with Robin van Persie and Ibrahim Afellay singing each other's praises, it was convenient and oh-so-simple to put two and two together.
"As soon as Arsene Wenger signs Afellay, van Persie will put pen to paper" was the general opinion.
So much for that, huh?
But even though van Persie seems to be going away, the Afellay rumors haven't done likewise.
It appears as if he is surplus to requirements at Barcelona, and the club have offered him to Arsenal and Inter Milan for as low as €6 million. That would represent a bargain price for the 26-year-old, who already has 41 international caps for the Netherlands.
The player has reportedly rejected an offer from Lille, further fueling speculation that he might be keen on Arsenal.
Afellay represents a versatile attacking option for Arsene Wenger, as he may be deployed on the wings or through the centre. And at the price being quoted, Wenger, a known admirer of the Dutchman, would certainly be rubbing his hands with glee.
And all this, of course, begs the question: could Afellay convince his great buddy to complete the mother of all turn-arounds and stay?
At 6 million, it's definitely worth a shot.
2. Wesley Sneijder
While all the smart money seems to suggest that if Wesley Sneijder does leave Inter Milan, it will be to go to Manchester United, this is a player I believe possesses everything required to make Arsenal truly great.
He is a leader, he is creative, he is direct, he is a set-piece expert, he scores goals, he loves the big stage, he is a winner and, at age 28, is at the perfect stage of his career from an Arsenal perspective. And with van Persie leaving—yes he is leaving, do not believe that guff that he will be retained to run down his contract—Sneijder will be the main man.
One problem—he will be exceedingly expensive to buy, and his salary demands will be exorbitant. In my opinion, though, this is one player worth biting the bullet for. And with Inter Milan out of this season's Champions League, and in a process of transition of their own, this might well be the time to test their—and Sneijder's—resolve.
1. Andrey Arshavin
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Don't be, because we may not have seen the last of Andrey Arshavin in red and white—and a couple of blue stripes. Why scour the world when the answer might just lie within?
When the little Russian joined Arsenal, there was a cacophony of expectation, and with six goals and nine assists in just 15 appearances in his first season, there was the feeling that Arsene Wenger had finally signed a world star in his prime. And then there was that performance.
Go on, enjoy it.
But what followed was one disappointment after another, and even though his goals and assists tallies remained healthy, there was always the feeling that Arshavin wasn't doing enough.
I, for one, believe he was played out of position, something the player himself alluded to in his early Arsenal days. Being positioned on the wing, he was expected to track back and help out defensively, something he had never done at the club or international level. And something he didn't particularly enjoy. He was not made for hard work.
And when Cesc Fabregas left Arsenal last summer, I definitely felt that Arsene Wenger had missed a trick by not giving Arshavin a run of games in a free, offensively-minded role. It's not like he had an alternative stand-out option, so he really should have given the Russian a go.
Instead, he left him on the wing, then on the bench and finally, in the January transfer window, loaned him back to Zenit St Petersburg, from whence Arshavin came.
He had a fairly successful spell in Russia, contributing to his team's title triumph, and looked revitalized for Russia at Euro 2012. Playing in a free, offensively-focused role.
Will Arsene Wenger, a known Arshavin admirer, surprise us yet again by giving him a run of games in his favored position?
All I'll say is, he could do much, much worse.