By now, Robin van Persie’s impeding departure from Arsenal to Manchester United has been confirmed and taken on board by Manchester United fans, perhaps less so by Arsenal fans.
By now, van Persie’s arrival at Old Trafford will have generated both genuine excitement and voices of concern.
And by now, his departure from the Emirates makes it clear that the Arsenal striking reins will be handed not to one particular heir, but a trio of new signings in Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.
After last year’s debacle of a summer transfer window that saw both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri depart from North London, Arsene Wenger rightly set this summer up so Arsenal would not once again have to start the season with a depleted and hastily plugged squad.
By securing the signatures of Podolski and Giroud early, Wenger had on paper presented potential colleagues for van Persie to play alongside, but in reality prepared his squad for the departure of his No. 10.
Indeed, just as Thierry Henry’s departure was suggested by some pundits to be a blessing in disguise—in that the rest of the team would have to step up and not rely on a single talisman—so van Persie’s departure should equally split Arsenal’s attacking burden to a variety of players.
Had van Persie suffered a relapse of his well-documented injury problems this season, it could have made for a sticky situation.
For doing his business early, and perhaps even for breaking his usual conservative spending tendencies, Wenger must be commended, as Arsenal’s forward line is now well equipped to deal with a van Persie-shaped void.
The same, however, cannot be said of the midfield.
So the growing speculation linking Alex Song with a move to Barcelona will not, and should not, sit well with Arsenal fans.
Indeed, the latest twist in the Song-to-Barcelona saga is that Barcelona officials have arrived in London for talks over a potential transfer (Daily Mail).
For now, following earlier rumors linking other defensive midfield options like Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez to Camp Nou, it seems that the La Liga champions hold a genuine interest in Arsenal’s Cameroonian midfield enforcer.
But unlike the van Persie situation, Wenger has not strengthened his midfield.
Without strength in depth in the middle of the park—indeed, Song is the only specialist defensive midfielder in Wenger’s squad—Arsenal would find it very hard to unearth another gem to take his place.
Song has improved by leaps and bounds in recent seasons, and has matured into one of the finest midfielders in the Premier League. He could even be the closest player to Manchester City’s midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure.
To avoid a disastrous start like Arsenal endured last term as a result of plugging massive holes in the midfield with new players, Wenger must ensure that he either secures a capable replacement for Song, or that he is able to fend off Barcelona’s interest in his midfield talisman.
Otherwise, all the good work he has done up front in preparation for Robin van Persie’s departure will go to waste.
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