Arsenal Transfer Rumors: 6 Surprising Names Linked to the Gunners
It's that time of year once again—Arsenal transfer rumors are coming in thick and fast before the January transfer window opens.
Predictably, much of the speculation is pure hokum.
Even still, there are some players that I never expected to be linked with Arsenal, either on a permanent basis or on loan. Sometimes, even the insane transfer hype machine manages to surprise me.
Let's look at six players who I was actually surprised to see mentioned as possible targets for Arsene Wenger, including star forwards Stewart Downing and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Fernando Llorente would be a good addition to Arsenal, but the chances of Arsene Wenger signing the Spaniard are remote at best.
Llorente's unique combination of character, technical ability and physical stature will earn his club Athletic Bilbao a massive transfer fee. And we know that Arsene Wenger is extremely reluctant to spend exorbitant sums for any player.
Llorente would adapt to the Premier League very easily, but he will have to do so with another team.
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Yoann Gourcuff has been in the spotlight for years, and there has seldom been a transfer window since he blossomed into a top player that Gourcuff has not been linked with Arsenal.
One might have thought that this time the press would give this story a rest, but Gourcuff's name is back in the headlines.
The Daily Mail has linked Gourcuff with a transfer to the Emirates, but the Lyon midfielder has not been as good recently as he used to be, and Arsenal don't have quite the same pressing need for midfielders that they did a year ago.
Perhaps those doing the speculation do not realize that Jack Wilshere is back, Aaron Ramsey is playing better and Tomas Rosicky is back in full training.
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Hopefully, Arsenal fans are not so desolate that they are relying on Adel Taarabt transfer rumors to get them through the drearier days of the season.
Taarabt thinks he's a much better player than he is, and he acts accordingly. His usual routine upon receiving the ball is to twist and turn a few times and either dribble into a defender or attempt an ill-advised pass.
This style of play could not be further from Arsene Wenger's team-oriented philosophy. Cooperation and team play are not hallmarks of Taarabt's game.
The Daily Mail's report of Arsenal interest is therefore quite curious, and not likely to be true.
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Downing is a very traditional English winger, and Arsenal play a very Spanish system. Also, Downing has not scored a goal in the Premier League since signing for Liverpool—a stretch spanning 41 games and over a year.
What price would Arsenal have to pay for Downing's services? A hefty £10 million, according to the Mail.
Considering that Lukas Podolski was reportedly signed for £1 million more (again via the Mail) and Olivier Giroud was reportedly inked for £3 million more (via The Indpendent), it is impossible that Arsene Wenger would pay this kind of money for mere squad depth.
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Like Fernando Llorente, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would be a good fit for Arsenal and would not need much time to adapt to the Premier League.
However, a player who scored 47 goals in all competitions last season (including 29 in 32 Bundesliga games) would almost certainly be out of Arsene Wenger's narrow price range.
Or so we thought.
Unbelievably, the Mirror and The Daily Mail are both reporting that Huntelaar could transfer to Arsenal for the nominal fee of £6 million. The Dutchman is 29 years old and by no means damaged goods, so it is difficult to see how he could be let go for such a minimal amount of money.
It's certainly plausible, based on the Premier League's reputation as one of the top two leagues in the world, that Huntelaar could move to England. But to suggest that it could be to a club as stingy as Arsenal and for a fee that small is absurd.
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Instead of pointing the finger at a precocious journalist or inaccurate newspaper, the surprise in this case must be directed at Arsene Wenger himself.
Will I sign him again in January? I don't rule it out. I don't know if he is interested. He is sharp.
It's good to know that Henry can still keep up with players over a decade his junior in training. But his 35-year-old legs have hundreds of thousands of minutes of top-level football on them, and Arsenal needs a long-term option to provide depth as Olivier Giroud's backup.
While this deal is perhaps the most likely on this list to actually happen, Arsene Wenger's willingness to take back such an old player in a playing capacity is extremely surprising.