Arsenal

Arsenal Missing Out on Felipe Melo Is a Disappointment, Not a Disaster

LYON, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 17: Felipe Melo of Fiorentina during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Lyon and Fiorentina at the Stade de Gerland on September 17, 2008 in Lyon, France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Owen WatsonCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2009

Several media outlets are reporting that Arsenal have missed out on the signature of Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo, who is due to sign for Juventus from Fiorentina. With some attacking the lack of ambition on the part of Arsene Wenger for not ensuring the transfer was completed.

Two counter arguments immediately spring to mind. Firstly, there is no evidence Melo was even the main transfer target for the Gunners. The club keeps auspiciously tight-lipped about any possible dealings, and although Melo would be my, and a lot of peoples', prime transfer target for Arsenal, there is no evidence Arsenal were particularly interested in signing this player. Despite Fiorentina board member pleas to the contrary.

If we cast our collective mind back to January and the Arshavin transfer saga, we'll remember that Arsenal only wanted to pay a £12m for the Russian maestro, and eventually paid out just under £17m for their man. Meaning they, and Ivan Gazidis in particular, have history of going the extra mile to get the man they want. 

Which leads into my second point, if this is a failure on the part of Arsenal then it is not Wenger's failing. Gazidis is the man responsible for player acquisitions, and is the same man that came out and said earlier in the week that Arsenal's main priority was on securing current players on long-term contracts. 

In fact, Arsenal went out and signed Thomas Vermaelen before tying down these contracts. If Melo was such a priority surely he would have been signed before Vermaelen? Maybe it was the mistake of Wenger to prioritise defensive cover over a first choice midfield pairing for Fabregas.

Missing out on Melo is certainly a disappointment, but I wonder if the people that love to criticise Arsenal would have really heralded the signing of Melo as a masterstroke. He was signed by Fiorentina for €13m last summer, has only featured 10 times for Brazil, and is in the middle of his career at 26 years old. Does one good season at Fiorentina justify a doubling of his value?

Should Arsenal really have blown the rest of their transfer budget on this man, losing Emmanuel Eboue in the process? Felipe Melo only has one season of Champions League experience, and before that he has been playing for mid-table teams in Spain.

Is this really the pedigree of player Arsenal want to spend £20m on?

Whichever side of the Melo debate you fall on, to sign or not to sign, it is far from a disaster for Arsenal to fail to acquire his signature. To blame Wenger for this failure is misguided, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of Ivan Gazidis. 

It may well be a mistake to have concentrated on extending contracts of existing players before recruiting a partner for Cesc Fabregas, but there are bigger issues looming on the horizon.

Just ask Alisher Usmanov.

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