Arsenal Transfer News: Players Arsene Wenger Needs to Cement Top 4 Spot

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2013

SWANSEA, WALES - JANUARY 06:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal reacts during the FA Cup with Budweiser Third Round match between Swansea City and Arsenal at Liberty Stadium on January 6, 2013 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Recently, Arsene Wenger claimed that finishing in the Top Four was the equivalent of winning a trophy. So with Arsenal currently outside those places as we head towards the end of the January window, you would imagine that they have been desperately trying to get players in. Well, not quite. Arsenal fans are still awaiting their first January signing.

In the meantime, all of Arsenal's immediate challengers for the top four places have strengthened. Chelsea and Tottenham have brought in Demba Ba and Lewis Holtby respectively, freshening up their squads ahead of the run-in. Even Everton, who are relative paupers compared to The Gunners, have all but completed an £8.6 million deal for promising Dutch youngster Leroy Fer.

So if the men from The Emirates are going to finish in those coveted positions for the 16th year in a row, then it looks as though they are going to have to strengthen. The squad looks a bit thin to compete in two cup competitions, as well make up a gap on their London rivals on the domestic front. Wenger himself has stated that while he does not feel his squad is short on quality, he is slightly concerned in respect to the numbers in his squad.

So transfer-wise, what does Wenger need to do going forward?

First and foremost, Arsenal require an athletic presence in the centre of midfield.

Whilst the transfer of Van Persie has been cited as the main reason for a lot of Arsenal's troubles this season, the departure of Alex Song has proved to be equally detrimental. Wenger's preferred midfield three of Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta has tons of quality, but lacks real bite. With Arteta currently out injured, Abou Diaby has shown signs he could fill that role, but from a fitness point of view he has proven to be unreliable.

It is understandable therefore that Arsene Wenger has taken an interest in West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame. The Senegalese international was The Hammers' outstanding performer during their good start to the season, and it is no coincidence that their form tailed off when Diame suffered an injury. Obviously aware of the interest from The Gunners, Diame has apparently told friends he is desperate for the move to go ahead.

Diame has probably been the closest thing to Alex Song in the Premier League this season. He gets about the pitch well, is strong in the tackle and can create going forward. If the rumoured £3.5 million release clause is true, then this should be a no-brainer. He fits all the criteria for an Arsene Wenger signing.

Another rumour which has suddenly gathered pace, one that doesn't necessarily fit the Wenger criteria, is the potential signing of David Villa from Barcelona. 

If recent reports are to be believed, then the London club have opened talks with the Catalans regarding a potential deal going ahead.

This would go against a lot of Wenger's principles that he has stood by so stubbornly in the past. Villa turned thirty-one last month, would cost a sizeable fee (rumoured to be £13.8 million) and would command huge wages. In years gone by, these traits would have ruled him out of a move to The Emirates.

I suppose this is David Villa after all!

Villa undoubtedly is a big name, but when you look a little closer, he is a player that has just come back from a long-term injury and has only ever known Spanish football. Even this season, his playing time has been very limited at Barcelona.

I'm not sure this is the best move for Arsenal or Villa. Theo Walcott is starting to blossom into a fantastic centre-forward, and whilst he would no doubt learn from a top-class striker like Villa, I would hate to see him on the wing or sat on the bench at Villa's expense.

Whilst David Villa might provide a short-term solution, a better option would be to invest in Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic. The Fiorentina man would offer something different to the players already on the Arsenal playing staff. Whilst he can run at defenders with pace and trickery, he can also turn and play intricate passes between the lines. 

His versatility is another quality, as he can operate up-top, behind a striker or out wide. He has shown the potential to become the complete forward. 

The intelligent movement and ability Jovetic has to find space makes him notoriously difficult to pick up, and he would flourish in a side containing visionaries like Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere. 

If I was Wenger, I would snap him up before somebody else does. Signing a young player of Jovetic's calibre, coupled with Theo Walcott signing his new deal, would represent a huge step in the right direction for Arsenal. 

Who do you think Arsene Wenger should target in the final knockings of the Transfer Window? Let me know in the comments section or on twitter @MattJFootball