Arsenal's No. 1 January Transfer Target Should Be Bruno Martins Indi
Arsene Wenger and Arsenal will need to strengthen come January, and the ideal man to come in is Netherlands international and Feyenoord star Bruno Martins Indi.
The Gunners were linked with all manner of players during the summer transfer window before they eventually signed Mesut Ozil. Arsenal fans will be wondering who their No. 1 target for the January window should be. Here, Bleacher Report cuts through the rumors and offers an insight into where Arsene Wenger should strengthen and why he should target Martins Indi.
Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain amongst others were all on Wenger's radar at some stage during the summer transfer window, and he missed out on them all. His smash and grab raid on Real Madrid to secure Ozil's signature stands out as a stroke of genius, and it has reaped obvious dividends.
Arsenal are on top of the Premier League, have only lost once since last March and have taken the most Premier League points this calendar year. They are the form team in English football.
Between now and January 1, the Gunners have 17 matches to traverse. They have two incredibly difficult periods within those games. The first begins an awful six-game run starting on October 22 when they play Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. They then play Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund, again, and then Manchester United.
Should the Gunners come through those stern tests they will be genuine Premier League, and possible Champions League, contenders.
Wenger will have to strengthen if the Gunners are to win the league. There is no question about that.
He recently told the Arsenal AGM that Arsenal's player policy is three fold. The first is to develop players from within, the second is to sign unknown players and the third is to buy big if the right player is available at the right price.
January is never an ideal time to buy as prices can be hugely inflated. However, if the right man is available the club must strike fast and decisively.
The Mirror is reporting that Arsenal and Liverpool are looking to sign Michu. The versatile and recently capped Spanish international is believed to be available for around £30 million. Wenger is a known fan of the Swansea City star and recently likened him to Dennis Bergkamp. He is a better striking option than Olivier Giroud, but at 27 years old and £30 million he doesn't offer real value.
The Gunners have also been linked with West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino.
The Independent claims that Arsenal are looking at the Baggies' forward as a possible investment this January. The youngster has caught the eye with a string of top-class performances this term and is only earning £850 per week according to the Daily Mail.
The 20-year-old fits the Wenger-bill as an up and coming youngster and could be a relevant target. He, however, is raw and is developing at a good pace under Steve Clarke. If Arsenal were to sign him the best deal would be to leave him on loan for the rest of the season.
The Daily Star has Manchester United and Arsenal being linked with Alex Song. The Barcelona midfielder would be a decent signing for David Moyes given United's problems in midfield.
Arsenal, however, have no such problems and actually have one of the strongest combinations of players in Europe. It is highly unlikely that Wenger would target another, unless he got him for free, and as such we can rule out a central midfielder as a potential No. 1 target.
Like Berahino, Julian Draxler is a hugely exiting and young talent and like Ozil he is more than well known to the football world. The Express have the player linked with a whole host of top clubs including Arsenal. Wenger might be interested given the fact that the 20-year-old is a specialized left-sided attacking player.
He is only 20 and is already one of Europe's top young talents. He is valued at €30 million by Transfermarkt and obviously would not come cheaply. Unfortunately he plays in a position that Arsenal have covered at the moment, or will have when Santi Cazorla returns from injury. In other years he would be a real target, but not this January.
There is little doubt that the Gunners are light up front. The only conventional center-forward at the club is Giroud. Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott and Yaya Sanogo are all capable of filling in for the French international in the short term but not over a long period.
The Mirror has come up with a possible solution to that problem and has linked the Gunners with a short-term loan deal for Fernando Llorente. The Spanish international is believed to be concerned with his lack of game time at Juventus in a World Cup year. He is on the cusp of slipping out of Vicente del Bosque's Brazil 2014 plans and a loan deal could help all involved.
Llorente faces two problems to this potential transfer. The first being that Juve have just lost Fabio Quagliarella to injury according to UEFA. The Italian international will miss seven games if he is out for the 21 days predicted.
It is almost certain that Llorente will deputize while he is out. That will give the 28-year-old time to build upon his three games for Juve to date. By the time January comes around the entire dynamic at Juventus could have changed.
There is also the very real fact that Llorente will be little more than a high-class deputy to Giroud. Would he leave for a team where he is not guaranteed first-team football? The answer would almost definitely be "no."
While the shortage of striking options must be acknowledged, so too is the dearth of options at center-back. This is where Arsene Wenger and Arsenal should focus their time and energy.
Wenger has very few options for this most important position.
Earlier this season, Bacary Sagna was forced to move inside when Laurent Koscielny was suspended. The results were decent if not earth shattering. The French international, linked with a free transfer when his contract runs out by the Daily Mail, is not a natural center-back.
Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are in pole position at the moment. They are in good form but are unchallenged for the positions.
Thomas Vermaelen, the club captain, is coming off a nightmare 2012-'13 season where he was one of the Premier League's worst players. Instead of getting his head down and taking his position back he has seemingly decided to go to the press in his bid to return to first team action. In what must be viewed as a threat by the club, Vermaelen told the Daily Mail that he might be forced to leave if he cannot regain his place in the starting XI.
With Mertesacker and Koscielny's partnership far from the ideal, they were the most error prone defensive partnership last season according to EPL Index, it is little wonder that Wenger is also being linked with defenders.
At the end of last season the Daily Mail reported that Arsenal had opened talks with Swansea on the proposed transfer of Ashley Williams for £12 million. The move obviously never happened, but it would be ripe for renegotiation in January 2014.
The Daily Mirror is reporting that the club are monitoring Basle's Fabian Schaer and Genoa's Sime Vrsaljko. Both are aged just 21 and are expected to play a part in the World Cup next year. January would be a good time to sign either before World Cup-itis takes hold and their transfer value rockets.
The most promising rumor of all has the Gunners being linked with a move for Dutch international Bruno Martins Indi by the Metro. The powerfully built center-defender plies his trade in Holland with Feyenoord. Born in Portugal, Martins-Indi made his debut for Holland in August 2012. Since then he has won 12 caps and is now a valued member of the first team. He is expected to have a huge World Cup.
Transfermarkt value the youngster at just €5 million, but he is undoubtedly worth more.
He is the epitome of a ball-carrying center-half and very much fits the bill of a modern defender. He is not particularly strong in the air or in the tackle, but he reads the game like a veteran. As such he rarely dives in and rarely gives away stupid free kicks or penalties.
Vermaelen is under the most immediate threat by a new defensive signing, although Koscielny is a longer term project.
Stats-wise, WhoScored marks the Koscielny and Martins Indi as being quite similar. Koscielny averages 1.2 tackles per game, three interceptions and five clearances. Martins Indi has one tackle, 0.8 interceptions and 4.9 clearances per game. That is where the similarities end, as Martins Indi plays in a far more mature manner.
If there is one aspect of Koscielny's play that irritates most, it is his lack of concentration over a 90-minute period and his propensity to make rash decisions. He has already given away two needless penalties this season and should have been penalized with a third for an idiotic push on Shane Long in the last minute against West Brom.
This has been a flaw in his footballing character since before he joined Arsenal.
He has his merits though. He is quick, courageous, aggressive and scores goals. He can, however, be a liability at the highest level. That is why he only has 14 caps for France at the age of 28. In short he is almost guaranteed to make one major error every game. At the highest level that is simply too much.
Wenger needs to iron these errors out of the Gunners game and with Koscielny at 28 he simply cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Koscielny may be serviceable for this season if the target is the top four, but in the long term, when Arsenal challenge for the title, Wenger must replace him.
That is why signing a central defender of the caliber of Bruno Martins Indi is imperative in January.
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