Arsenal Transfers: Does Current Speculation Suggest a Shift in Tactics?

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Arsenal Transfers: Does Current Speculation Suggest a Shift in Tactics?
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First there were murmurings that Alex Song could return to Arsenal.

Then that Bacary Sagna, long thought to be the latest disillusioned star with one foot out the Emirates exit, may stay. 

But the latest news—the potential return of ex-captain and Gooner favourite Cesc Fabregas—is by far the most spectacular.

At the same time, speculation linking Arsenal with moves for players of elite stature like Edinson Cavani and David Villa persists with unusual credibility, while some, like the Daily Mail, suggest a deal with Stevan Jovetic is imminent if not already agreed in principle.

What is going on at Arsenal? How has the tide of player transfers turned?

Since 2005, when Patrick Vieira left the club after long speculation, the transfer story at Arsenal has settled into a disturbing pattern: key player agitates for a move to a "more ambitious" club and Arsenal fail to replace him adequately.

It has not always been as simple and straightforward as many fans and pundits sometimes portray the situation—a mere question of a profitable but money-pinching club refusing to spend on new players. Or, as another popular version goes, an over-controlling manager refusing to spend money available.

Yet, regardless of the reasons behind it, it is undeniable that Arsenal's recent transfer policy has been harmful to the team's prospects.

This summer, however, promises a shift in the narrative. Early speculation already suggests that Arsenal will no longer serve as a feeder-club to the super rich and the giants of Europe.

In fact, the first sign of this shift came in January when Theo Walcott signed his contract extension. As New York-based Arsenal fan @11cannons points out, this combined with the possibility of Sagna staying would send a significant message about the team's direction.

Talk about a return for Song or Fabregas is also enormously significant, whether ultimately true or not—the very possibility points to a sea change in how Arsenal is perceived.

This is also highlighted by talk of potential signings. Whether Villa, Cavani (both still unlikely) or Jovetic (more probably) actually sign or not, it is significant that there seems to be more credibility and belief this year surrounding Arsenal's claims of a £60 million transfer budget.

Players staying, returning, signing—all point to a radical change in fortune for Arsenal's 2013 transfer activity.

All that remains to be seen is how this new approach will set Arsenal up for the 2013-14 season.

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