Arsenal Transfers: Arsene Wenger's Top 5 Alternatives to Adrian
The 25-year-old Spaniard has stayed level-headed despite the constant speculation linking him with a move away from Atlético (via ESPN FC):
I try to isolate myself from the rumours. We are used to them and do not take them seriously. The good thing at the moment is that the team is doing very well. I would like to stay for a while yet. I am happy here and it is my intention to continue here.
This article will analyse Adrián as a Gunners transfer target and list the top five alternatives to Adrián.
Don't Cite Thierry Henry as a Reason to Sign Adrián
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Logic: Adrián is a decent player but £15 million? Are you having a laugh?
Segments of Arsenal's fanbase are praying that the club sign Adrián, fervently believing Arsène Wenger will turn the Spaniard into a superstar à la Thierry Henry.
Let's look at the French forward's situation when he signed for Arsenal.
In the words of William Gallas (via The Sun):
All the coaches predicted a fine future for him [Thierry].
He was so good, a prodigy. At 14, his future was laid out before him.
Unlike mine. Oh no, people did not see me doing anything. Not a lot of people saw me turning pro at the time.
Do you know the name of the manager who gave Henry his professional debut at Monaco? Arsène Wenger.
Thierry failed at Juventus, though why do most people forget that it was under a then-relatively inexperienced manager in Carlo Ancelotti?
Does that matter more than Henry failing to acclimatise to Italian conditions out on the wing? Yep.
Carlo turned down the chance to sign Roberto Baggio on a free transfer at Parma, feeling the maestro would ruin the shape of the team.
Baggio transferred to Bologna and netted 23 times during the 1997-98 season.
This prompted a mea culpa from Ancelotti years later (via Matt Lawton at the Daily Mail):
If the same thing happened now, 14 years later, I would buy him.
"Come!" I would say, "and we will work it out I lost a great ability to improve the team with the ability of Baggio.
But that was a lack of experience. I had been a coach just two years.
And, as I said, my teacher had been Sacchi. I didn't have the knowledge to know I could change things.
Maybe I was a little bit scared to change because it was the start of my career.
Same thing happened with Gianfranco Zola, whose move to Chelsea would later lead to hundreds of thousands of kids becoming Blues supporters.
Again, Carlo admitted his error (from the PA via The Guardian):
I preferred to maintain the system that I knew well.
For this, Gianfranco had a different decision to make.
I think it was a mistake. It was my first experience in Serie A and I was not able to change the system.
He would probably not have gone to Chelsea if I had changed the system.
When Thierry first arrived in London, Arsène outlined his vision (via BBC Sport): "Thierry has pace, power and great dribbling. I would like to move him [from the wings] into the centre either as the second striker or the main target man."
To which, Carlo responded a decade or so later (from Orange Sport via Vanessa Keller at the International Business Times): "I didn't realise at the time that he [Henry] could be used as a central striker. I used him on the left and after he left, I was surprised he made a fantastic career as a center forward."
Henry was just another high-profiled victim of Ancelotti's tunnel vision during a period when the former AC Milan great was trying to survive in the cut-throat business of managing a Serie A team.
Adrián doesn't have the pedigree of Baggio or Zola, let alone Henry (who had scored twice during France's 1998 FIFA World Cup triumph), so please don't bring up Thierry as a reason to buy the Atléti forward.
In 2000, AC Milan plunged to sign Atlético Madrid's mercurial José Mari for €18 million, who went on to score five times in 52 Serie A games.
Wonder how that turned out...
Of all the Atlético players, why Adrián?
When he's playing out wide, he doesn't create enough shots for his teammates, let alone getting assists. He is playing with Falcao, arguably the best No. 9 in the world, and Adrián only has one assist from 14 starts.
He has scored three goals from 32 shots in combined La Liga/UEFA Europa League play this season.
Also, there are better Atléti prospects than Adrián.
What about 21-year-old Koke? He has the potential to be a mainstay in La Furia Roja's setup for many years to come.
Portuguese 23-year-old wide attacking midfielder Pizzi has been class on loan at Deportivo La Coruña
Arda Turan's combativeness means the 25-year-old Turk is a logical fit for Premier League football.
Would he sign for Arsenal? There's no reason for him to downgrade and he has said (from CNN Turkey via Dermot Corrigan at ESPN FC): "This is my home. The team and fans, we are a family. I am very happy. If I still had doubts I would not be here."
All three would be much better transfer targets than Adrián, so here are five alternatives.
5. Dusan Tadić, WF/AM, Twente
Photo via Twentesport.com
Dusan Tadić had no idea that his challenge on Yann M'Vila would be a factor in the Frenchman's downward spiral.
M'Vila wasn't crying due to the pain but because he knew he wouldn't be 100 percent for Euro 2012—a tournament where he would showcase his talent to the world and one of Europe's big clubs would sign him.
That didn't eventuate because he played with an ankle injury.
There was so much frustration within him that he embarrassed manager Laurent Blanc and teammate Olivier Giroud by not shaking their hand.
One of Yann's probational conditions was to play for the U-21s and provide leadership but he took the mickey out it by partying with several teammates in Paris.
The French Football Federation threw the book at M'Vila by banning him till 2014 in an attempt to deter future scandals from engulfing the national team.
Yann has since moved to Rubin Kazan and could face Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
The guy who hacked him (inadvertently) has been incredible this season and will be playing in one of Europe's elite leagues sooner rather than later.
Dusan creates chance after chance and should be called koning van de assist.
Steve McClaren is summoning his inner-Arsène Wenger as the Englishman has decided to move Tadić from the wide forward position into the No. 10 role.
If the move pays off, Dusan will become an obvious Arsenal transfer target.
He's a good bet to pip Graziano Pellè to the Eredivisie Footballer of the Year award.
4. Hiroshi Kiyotake, AM, Nürnberg
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The J.League's reputation is growing in Europe but not everyone is a success story. Yūki Ōtsu was never given a chance with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Yoshito Ōkubo wasn't good enough for Wolfsburg.
Hiroshi Kiyotake has become the star of this mediocre Nürnberg side, leading the team in assists, shots created per game, completed dribbles per game, crosses per game, long passes per game and has the best WhoScored player rating.
FIFA's technical study group described Kiyotake as a "dynamic right-sided midfielder with good technique and dribbling skills."
Yet, rookie manager Michael Wiesinger dropped Hiroshi against Hamburg.
Michael, you have four starters whose combined key passes per game still don't add up to Kiyotake.
This isn't Bayern Munich (a club Wiesinger played for) or Borussia Dortmund. This is little old Nürnberg. You can't just relegate your MVP to the bench.
Keep making dumb decisions like that and you'll be out of a job.
3. Dimitri Payet, LF, Lille
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Dimitri Payet is a short, stocky, tricky and technically superb footballer with really good balance.
Against Nancy, he touched Florent Balmont's pass with his right boot, positioned his body to shoot, and curled the ball straight over 6'4" Damien Gregorini.
When Lille beat Montpellier 4-1, Payet with his back to goal, controlled Nolan Roux's pass, swiveled, tapped the ball with the outside of the foot, and then elegantly sidefooted it past Geoffrey Jourdren.
Dimitri's style is aesthetically pleasing.
2. André Schürrle, LF, Bayer Leverkusen
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In André Schürrle's last 10 games, he has scored five times and created three goals.
Defenders, who rely more on jockeying than tackling, have a severely hard time dealing with Schürrle.
His acceleration is insane, he's a strong dribbler and once he gets into the groove, he'll take over the game.
I would love to see him as a No. 9 but that's not going to happen with Stefan Kießling in great form and Arkadiusz Milik waiting in the wings.
Chelsea bidded £15.5 million for Schürrle when he wasn't playing well. Guess he's now worth £31 million by the Blues' estimations.
1. Marko Arnautović, RW, Werder Bremen
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Marko Arnautović's last three seasons have been underwhelming to say the least, but he's only 23.
It's rare that comparisons are that accurate because Arnautović can shoot with either foot, is a technically brilliant dribbler, strong in the air and a physical masterpiece.
In recent months, he's finally playing to the standard expected of him. He has scored all his goals and provided three of his five assists since last October.
Why didn't it work out at Inter Milan? He dared to question José Mourinho and management saw the Austrian as another Mario Balotelli.
Instead of talking a gamble on Adrián, Arsène Wenger can turn Arnautović into one of the world's best players.
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