For all his genius, Arsene Wenger has made some strange signings in his time at Arsenal. The names of Amaury Bischoff, Mikael Silvestre and Park Chu-Young still send shivers down the spines of Arsenal fans. Only time will tell if Kim Kallstrom will join those ranks and be filed among other aberrations and curiosities.
His chances don’t look great. Kallstrom’s signing certainly comes out of left-field. Heading in to the window, central midfield looked like the area where Arsenal had the most depth. However, the double-blow of Aaron Ramsey’s injury and Mathieu Flamini’s suspension forced Wenger in to the market. He had a matter of days to act, and identified Kallstrom as the man for the job.
That, in itself, caught many Arsenal fans by surprise. Kallstrom is 31 and arguably past his peak. Even when he was younger, he was not the most mobile. His career appeared to be winding down in Russia before Wenger plucked him from obscurity.
However, the bizarre nature of the signing does not end there. Since the deal was completed, it has emerged that the player is carrying a significant back injury. Speaking to the BBC, Arsene Wenger confirmed:
He arrived and had fallen on his back two days before. We found out he had a micro-fracture of the vertebrae, and we have all played with micro-fractures.
We identified he would be injured for four to six weeks, so they [Spartak Moscow] will pay him for the first six weeks of his wages.
It transpires a player signed to compensate for injuries is in fact already injured. Remarkably, even those Kallstrom has ostensibly been signed to cover could now be set to return before him.
It begs the question of whether or not Kallstrom will ever play much of a role for Arsenal. Arsenal have no games in which they can afford to bed in a new player in the second half of the season. Every match is vital. What’s more, by the time Kallstrom returns, he could be behind Ramsey, Flamini, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the queue for a place in central midfield.
Given that Kallstrom’s time at Arsenal is only likely to last for a matter of months, his opportunity to impress will be fleeting.
Many Arsenal fans are frustrated at Kallstrom’s arrival. It’s nothing personal against the Swede, and it’s only right to reserve judgement on his ability until he takes to the field in the red and white of Arsenal. However, there is a prevailing sense that Arsene Wenger has made a signing that is not only unnecessary, but currently unusable. It’s an odd move at a time when other areas of the squad, such as the striking department, required attention more urgently.
Kallstrom may still prove his worth. The summer signing of Mathieu Flamini was met with a similarly apathetic shrug, and yet his impact has been extraordinary.
Wenger is famously reluctant to dip in to the January market. If he sought out Kallstrom, he must have his reasons. If the Swede can overcome his back injury, he could still contribute to Arsenal’s season. As Wenger told Arsenal.com, “there is a possibility [that he may not play] but as well there is the possibility that he scores us the winning goal that might be vitally important."
It would be somewhat poetic if Kallstrom could cap off Arsenal’s season with one of his trademark free-kicks. The jokes at his and Wenger’s expense would soon come to a halt, and his place in the Arsenal fans’ hearts would be assured.
Over to you, Mr. Kallstrom.