Arsenal's Fabregas Hopes For a New Partnership
Because of recent comments from Fabregas there has been renewed speculation over the transfer of Liverpool's Xabi Alonso to Arsenal.
Fabregas said "We need someone in the middle to make competition and make a difference, plus give us a new dimension.
"Xabi would be great. He's experienced and can score goals. I'm sure the boss is aware of that fact."
Due to the superb season Alonso has just had, and Cesc's national team ties to the player, it's obvious to see why Fabergas would want to play alongside him next season. This does not seem likely to happen though.
Last summer it seemed as if this was a move that would happen, with Barry replacing Alonso at Liverpool. In the end Barry stayed committing himself to seeing if Villa could break into the Champions League, and the Alonso move ended dead in the water.
In the year that followed Alonso proved himself as one of the world's best midfielders. Benitez now sees him as a vital part of the team, and in the follow up to their strongest league run under the Spaniard, he's very keen to keep his best players and build on that success.
Benitez' conviction on this matter has already been tested by reported interest from Real Madrid, to which he replied "The situation is clear, we do not want to sell our best players and that includes Xabi.
Fabergas' comments about bringing in a "competitive" midfielder seem well founded, as this is an area where Arsenal have at times struggled this season.
After the departure of Viera in 2004 a lot of people believed that Arsenal would struggle without the strength of their talismanic skipper playing in the middle. While over the course of the season he was clearly missed in the league, the increased fluidity of Arsenal's build-up play saw the Gunners make their furthest ever progress in the Champions League, reaching the final after a record CL shut out run.
In the years that followed the departures of Edu, Gilberto and Flamini have left this area severely weakened. The failure to sign Alonso left Wenger relying on youth in this role for the last season.
Diaby, Song and Denilson show great promise for the future, but did not have the required experience or consistency in the role this past season. What's more pertinent is that none of them appeared to sufficiently "click" with Fabregas in the middle of the park.
During Fabergas' absence, through injury, we saw various pairings of this trio put in strong performances. Working in a shared role of two holding midfielders allowed their combined strength to add up to something more substantial.
Despite their development, there is still a strong case for a more experienced player to be brought in to pair with Fabregas, in the 4-4-2 system that Wenger prefers. As Fabregas pointed out, Alonso would be the ideal man for this role.
With Benites' determination to hold onto him and his £20 million+ price tag proving a stretch for the currently tight Arsenal budget, it would seem that he will not be coming to the Emirates. So who could be Wenger's potential targets for this role?
Gareth Barry would be the obvious man for the job. He has made it clear that he wants to play in the Champions League and Villa's failure to break into the top 4 may see him depart from Villa Park.
Manchester City and Tottenham have both been rumoured to be interested in him. Without any European football at either of these clubs next year the player would no doubt see a move to either of them as a step down. While this makes a Barry move to them unlikely, it will still probably push up his valuation - something that may put off the necessarily thrifty Wenger.
Lorik Cana has indicated that he may look to leave the Marseille team he captains, and he's openly stated that he'd like to play in either the English or German league. It's reported that Wenger is a big fan of the player and he would be a player with the attributes and experience that Wenger will be looking for.
There are rumours that Benitez is also interested in the player, but his arrival at Liverpool would be as a replacement for Alonso, which could then possiably open the door for Alonso's exit.
Filipe Melo de Carvalho was a rumoured Wenger target during the winter window and he could be a good long term resource in this position. He has indicated that he want's to stay where he is and his club sound very determined to keep him.
While Fiorentina will be returning to the Champions league they did however disappoint in last years group stage, winning only 1 game. The opportunity to play a CL knock-out regular club might tempt Carvalho.
David Pizarro would be an ideal candidate. He appears to be somewhat surplus to demands at Roma now and could possibly be leaving the Champions League exiles this summer. A move to Juventus would be more likely though, as part of a deal seeing Trezeguet moving the other way.However if he isn't going to Juventus, they will still want to raise money for buying Trezeguet.
Gökhan Inler is a player targeted by Wenger last summer and will possibly be in his's thoughts again. His agent has come out to say that he will not be moving to England this summer though and has talked up a possible move to Inter instead.
Jérémy Toulalan would be an obvious candidate to be inheritor of the Viera role, a player the French national team coach certainly see's as Viera's natural successor in the France squad. However he's stated he's happy to stay at Lyon and the club will want to keep him as they rebuild this summer, after a disappointing season for the deposed French club.
Nuno "Maniche" is currently out of contract he'd be able to arrive at the Emirates on a free transfer. As a UEFA Cup and Champions League winner with Porto he certainly has key experience on his side.
He would probably not be the ideal partner for Fabregas though and doesn't show the quality that Wenger looks for in signings. When he previously played in the EPL, with Chelsea, he certainly didn't impress. Although available for free, I really can't see this one happening.
Alou Diarra has been touted as a possible target, but it would seem very unlikely that he would want to leave the French champions to play for Arsenal. His previous experience of employment in the EPL with Liverpool, where he never played a competitive match, certainly won't bring back fond memories.
Yaya Toure would certainly be a signing the fans would love to see at Arsenal, but it would be ridiculous to suggest (as was last summer and even just this February) that this move might happen. Despite anything his brother might say, why would any professional footballer want to give up a regular first team place at Barcelona right now.
Patrick Viera... well who better to fill the eponymous Viera role at Arsenal. He looks certain to be leaving Inter in the summer, but a more likely destination would be Lyon. Certainly the fans would welcome him back, but he will most likely be seen as too old to be a worthwhile investment of precious resources.
It's possible that we won't see any new Arsenal signing for the defencive midfield role (unless you include 15-17 year olds). Wenger may decide to concentrate his efforts on bolstering the back line rather than add to the midfield.
With Ramsey likely to be more involved next season, Wenger already has four options in this position. The back line however has a lot less cover. Substantial addition to the centre back role might also give Toure the opportunity to at times play in midfield again.
Whatever happens, Fabregas is certainly confident in Wenger when he says: "We will see what happens in the summer but the boss knows what is missing and I am sure he will do something about it."
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