It’s long been noted by pundits and supporters alike that Arsenal are in need of a few experienced figures. The current squad is bristling with exciting young talent, but there is an obvious dearth of veteran players who have played at the highest level and secured major honours.
Despite this, Arsenal have reportedly turned down a chance to re-sign Cesc Fabregas, per BBC Sport. But former Gunners defender Martin Keown thinks the money could be better utilised in other areas, per The Sport Review (h/t Squawka):
Wenger probably feels he’s more than catered for in that attacking midfield area—it’s a defensive midfielder that’s going to be more purposeful in that Arsenal squad now.
I do believe Fàbregas would improve any team in the world, so of course he deserves special consideration, but there are only so many £30m players you can buy every summer. Arsene Wenger has just signed a new three-year contract and I’m not sure he’ll be signing another one, so he might think if he’s going to spend £30m, he would prefer it to be on a centre forward than another midfielder.
To this end, the Gunners have been linked with three players that have won domestic titles in recent years and all three would be suitable foils to Arsenal’s progressive squad.
Here’s the very latest on a trio of players that could add real steel to the Arsenal staff.
Victor Valdes Available After Monaco Withdrawal
Arsenal and Manchester City have been put on red alert after Victor Valdes’ proposed move to AS Monaco collapsed. That’s according to French newspaper L’Equipe (h/t 101 Great Goals), which insists the principality club are backing out of a deal.
Arsenal are on the lookout for a goalkeeper after Lukasz Fabianski left the club for Swansea City, and Valdes would be an excellent pickup if they were able to construct a deal.
The Spanish interational was a key figure in Barcelona’s dominance over the course of the last few seasons, and his winning pedigree, assuring presence and composed distribution would be a major asset for this Arsenal team.
Here's why he's so highly rated:
If the Gunners were to complete a deal, it would be intriguing to see how Wenger would integrate both the Spaniard and the current No. 1 Wojciech Szczesny into the setup. The 24-year-old Polish stopper is a keeper who seems to improve every season, and missing out on first-team action wouldn’t be ideal at this stage of his development.
But the influence of Valdes—not to mention the knowledge he could pass on to a young goalkeeper like Szczesny—would be potentially invaluable for the Polish international. Some serious competition for a first-team place could also lift his performance to even greater heights.
Gunners Linked With Hard-man Nigel de Jong
According to The Sun (h/t Chris Richards of The Mirror) Arsenal are looking at signing 29-year-old Nigel de Jong, who would add some much-needed bite to the center of the Gunners’ midfield.
His ability on the ball would certainly impress Wenger, too, as illustrated here by Who Scored:
Nigel de Jong: Of the 102 players to attempt 1000+ passes in Serie A last season, just 2 had a better pass accuracy than De Jong (91.4%)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 10, 2014
According to Richards’ piece, de Jong is unhappy at Milan after the dismissal of his compatriot and close friend Clarence Seedorf. He has 12 months remaining on his Rossoneri deal, so Arsenal could probably pick him off for a nominal fee, too.
De Jong was a huge success in England during his time at Manchester City, becoming a vital cog in the team that won the league title under Roberto Mancini. The Dutchman does a sterling, understated defensive job, and he was a difficult player for City to replace until they made a serious outlay on Fernandinho.
De Jong has fashioned himself a reputation for being a bit overzealous when it comes to putting in tackles, but those isolated incidents shouldn’t blemish the reputation of a player who has a vast defensive skill set.
If Arsenal were to move for de Jong, he’d be the perfect foil for their intricate creative talents.
Arsenal Keeping Tabs On Mirko Vucinic
The Juventus forward featured scarcely for the Bianconeri first team last season, prompting interest from a host of clubs, including Valencia, Arsenal and Tottenham. According to David Wright of the Express, the Gunners tried to sign the Montenegrin international in the January window, but a deal never materialised.
It’s also claimed in Wright’s piece that reports from Italy are suggesting Valencia have made a bid of £2.8 million for the player, although the Italian champions are holding out for a fee closer to £6.5 million.
Here’s the kind of qualities Vucinic could bring to the Emirates should he sign up:
Despite his advancing years—Vucinic is 30 years old—he could still do an excellent job for a top-level European team. He is an extremely intelligent forward, blessed with supreme awareness, a wonderful touch and a clinical edge in front of the goal.
Naturally, his performance levels have dipped a little due to a lack of first-team action, but in the right environment he could flourish again. At Arsenal he could potentially do that, but Wenger’s reluctance to hand big deals to players over the age of 30 could scupper a deal.