“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” were the words sang by Andy Williams almost 50 years ago as the pop singer lay in anticipation of the January transfer window.
While that second part may be stretching the truth slightly, the late signing sensation wasn’t lying when he emphasised the importance of the festive period, a sentiment any Arsenal fan can relate to.
This New Year, the Gunners will find themselves linked with numerous football talents, as has become routine amongst top Premier League sides, but only some, if any, will actually make the switch.
With that in mind, the next six slides detail just who those in north London can hope to see become the “next big thing” at the Emirates Stadium, becoming a Gunners talisman in time.
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A man to find himself serially linked with a move to Old Trafford of late, Kevin Strootman could find himself in England’s capital as opposed to Manchester if all goes right for Arsenal in the coming months (via The Week).
The Holland international has already stated that a Premier League switch is on his mind, with the Daily Mail reporting the player's agent, Chiel Dekker, as saying the following:
Strootman has had a good time in Eindhoven, but he decided that he wants to prove himself in a better league...If an agreement is able to be reached with a potentially interested club, PSV will allow Kevin to leave in January.
That kind of loyalty is to be admired and, if anything, will only enamour him amongst potential suitors in the long run, making his signature that much more desirable.
A box-to-box midfielder, Strootman is capable of playing in the role of defensive midfield but has also shown a tendency to push much further forward on more than several occasions.
In truth, Strootman would appear to be what many were hoping Alex Song would one day become; hopes cut short by the Cameroonian’s move to the Camp Nou.
With Abou Diaby and Jack WIlshere both proving to be on the injury-prone side of things, reinforcements in the centre of midfield may not be a bad move for Arsenal, with Strootman allegedly topping that list thus far.
Seemingly available for a cut-price fee, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could be signed as early as this January, looking to pick up much where international compatriot, Robin van Persie, left off.
Last season, Huntelaar rivaled Europe’s finest as one of the most prolific talents, scoring an insane tally of 49 goals in 49 appearances for Schalke.
With barely six months left on his current deal at the Veltins Arena, the striker could leave his German surroundings for as little as £5 million in 2013 (via Evening Standard), a bargain considering the potential displayed over the last year.
Despite the signatures of Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski over the summer, Arsene Wenger’s men still appear to be lacking a certain attacking edge and are tracking Huntelaar's situation, according to the Independent.
When one considers that the likes of Marouane Chamakh, Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin are candidates for the Emirates exit this New Year, Huntelaar’s signing begins to look all the more plausible.
If Arsenal were able to swap out one prolific Dutchman for another, fans may start to forget the loss of RVP and herald in the new era of KJH.
After such a fine start to the season defensively, Arsenal’s “Steve Bould Effect” appears to have worn out quite swiftly.
In the start, the Gunners' fine record at the back was put down largely to the influence of new defensive coach, Steve Bould, but somewhere along the way, the coach has lost his influence or the players have just stopped listening.
The Metro have reported that the north London club are reviving the interest held in Montpellier defender, Mapou Yanga Mbiwa, that they had over the summer period.
The French club’s captain was a massive influence on the side’s Ligue 1-winning campaign last season, attracting the attention of numerous European outfits.
John Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci are both seeing very limited playing time at the Emirates Stadium and, should the pair leave, could see Yanga Mbiwa replace them.
Regardless of his young age, the 23-year-old French international has supreme leadership skills and is a classy centre-back on his day, providing all the tools necessary to becoming a top Premier League star.
The Championship starlet on the lips of what seems like every elite Premier League club at the moment, Arsenal have been anything but discreet in their pursuit of Wilfried Zaha.
The Crystal Palace starlet has already netted four goals and made five assists in 20 league appearances this season and is courting a raft of supposed January interest.
The Daily Mail have alleged that the Gunners will test the waters with a £9 million bid leading up to the winter transfer window, despite the Palace board previously stating that he’s worth more than double that (via Daily Mail).
At just 20 years old, Zaha is certainly of the age that Wenger has shown himself to favour during his Arsenal tenure and is young enough for the French boss to mould to his will.
Taking his youth into account, it’s remarkable that Zaha is already such a vital part of the Crystal Palace squad and it’s largely his performances that have allowed the Eagles a surge on the Championship’s top places.
It’s very likely that this New Year will be the time where the starlet finally makes the jump to the English top flight, with the Gunners a major contender as possible suitors.
Having already admitted that he will not be penning a new contract with Athletic Bilbao (via Independent), it would appear to be just a matter of time before Fernando Llorente moves to greener pastures.
That being said, the question still lingers as to where and when the Spanish international will complete his move away from San Mamés.
Those two factors alone will affect just how much money Athletic will receive for his departure as with his contract set to expire in six months, he would be available as a free transfer in the summer of 2013.
As a result, rather than make nothing from his signature, the La Liga outfit may prefer to cash in on their striker in January, with Arsenal alleged to be one of the sides interested.
Speaking to the media, the Telegraph recently reported Llorente as saying that he was open to a Premier League move, declaring his admiration for the English top flight.
This will undoubtedly have put the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and others on high alert, opening up the possibility for a winter purchase.
Again, it’s debatable as to whether or not Arsenal have really recovered from the loss of Robin van Persie and Euro 2012 winner, Llorente, would certainly ease some of the club’s attacking burdens.
With Santi Cazorla, Michu and Pablo Hernandez all impressing in the Premier League of late, there’s certainly value to be found in Spain, something the Gunners may look to exploit once more in 2013.
Another plausible solution to Arsenal’s apparent lack of striking options, and a cheap one at that, is Demba Ba.
The Senegalese forward’s £7 million release clause, which was thought to have expired in August, lives on and could very possibly be taken advantage of by the Gunners in January.
However, one sticking point in the attacker’s departure from St. James’ Park could be the fact that, as Matt Law of the Mirror reports, Ba will ask for a salary of £90,000-a-week wherever he ends up.
According to speculation, Ba is refusing to pen a new deal with Newcastle United unless these wage demands are met, but will ask for the same amount of money from any new club he should sign for.
After dropping off in scoring form during the second half of last season, Ba has once again found himself amongst the goals and has netted an impressive 11 league goals in 16 starts this campaign.
Speaking to Canal+ (h/t Goal.com), Ba recently stated:
Arsenal are one of these teams who make you dream. I have nothing to say about the speculation. Nothing is about to happen...The press know Arsenal need another striker and also know about my release clause, and make their own mind up about it.
One would argue that, with the supposed better service he would receive at the Emirates Stadium, Ba could better his standards once more in north London and for £7 million, could be the bargain Arsenal need.