We’re just two matches into the 2014/15 Premier League season, and already, Arsenal’s title credentials are coming under question.
A few high-profile signings in the summer gave Gunners fans a bit of optimism heading into the new campaign, but two lacklustre performances against Crystal Palace and Everton have suddenly got them saying that their new acquisitions aren’t enough.
Luckily, the transfer window is still very much open for business, and here, we take a look at two stars that could be on their way to ease fans’ panic at the Emirates.
Boisterous defensive midfielder William Carvalho has reportedly been hot on Arsene Wenger’s radar since the start of the summer, but with time running out, the Frenchman is now looking to make a definitive move for his signature.
As Goal UK revealed, the Gunners had a £20 million bid rejected by Sporting Lisbon for their prized asset last week, but a follow-up offer could be just around the corner:
That much reportedly depends on whether or not Arsenal secure Champions League progression, as Wayne Veysey of Goal.com (via Metro) reports that with a place in Europe’s elite competition will come the need to invest in a midfielder for Wenger.
However, even if the unbelievable happens and the Gunners lose out to Besiktas, they still look a little short in defensive midfield—particularly since club captain Mikel Arteta picked up an injury.
The Spaniard was forced off in the first leg of the play-off in Turkey, and Wenger admitted recently that if Arteta faces a long stint on the sideline then he’ll be “creative” in the transfer window, as per talkSPORT:
If it is a long-term injury, that puts us in a position where we have to be creative. We are like you, we listen to the names, but sometimes I look who we buy in the media, but at the moment as I told you we are not in an emergency case. We have the players we want but we are open as well to any opportunity until the end of the transfer window who can strengthen our defensive department in quality and number.
It’s safe to say that a player of Carvalho’s calibre would indeed bolster Wenger’s defensive options, as the star’s ability with his feet, combined with his incredible strength, make him the complete midfielder.
That’s something that journalist Sergi Dominguez agrees with, too, saying that Carvalho has what it takes to bring about a new era in defensive midfield for the Gunners:
No DM at Arsenal since 2003 that has convinced me more than Gilberto. I'm sure William Carvalho can fill the void left by him.— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) August 10, 2014
Sporting Lisbon will likely hold out for a fee closer to the £30 million mark for their Portuguese star, and while that may make Wenger wince, it would certainly be money well spent.
Squad depth is one of the most important features of a title-winning side, and with the aging duo of Arteta and Mathieu Flamini the only recognised defensive midfielders, the capture of Carvalho looks essential.
Another star who’s been on Wenger’s wish list for some time is Greek defender Kostas Manolas, whose time with Olympiakos looks like it is coming to an end very soon.
The 23-year-old is as versatile as they come at the back, and he looks an ideal replacement for former captain Thomas Vermaelen at Arsenal.
Good news for Gunners fans, then, as the Greek international is reportedly closing in on a move to the Emirates, as per Veysey.
Veysey writes that Manolas’ representatives recently flew to London to discuss personal terms of the star’s contract, with the transfer fee said to be around £8 million.
Some may not know a great deal about Manolas, but anyone that’s watched Greek sides and the national team themselves adopting a stubborn, defensive style has seen the Olympiakos man showing just how solid he can be. And journalist Joe Krishnan thinks he’d be a good addition at the Emirates:
For what it's worth, I think Kostas Manolas would be a superb signing for Arsenal: http://t.co/SPL8UfiRyO— Joe Krishnan (@joekrishnan) August 19, 2014
While distribution isn’t the youngster’s strongest attribute, he more than makes up for it with strength, pace and power in the air.
Besides, with the creative midfielders that Arsenal have at their disposal, the Greek star may only need to perfect the five-yard pass to find one of the side’s dictators if he makes the switch.
The chances of Manolas moving seemingly increased over the weekend, too, as he was left out of the Olympiakos side that faced Niki Volou, as per Robin Cottle of the Mail Online.
All that’s left, it seems, is for Wenger to put his hand in his pocket, and it’s safe to say that both Manolas and Carvalho would be great additions to his setup.
Arsenal won’t win the league with their current side—not because there isn’t enough class there, but because the quality elsewhere—particularly in Chelsea's and Manchester City’s squads—means that the Gunners cannot compete.
Wenger knows that his side are still a work in progress, and instead of panic buying, he’ll look to bring in stars that will come good in the long run—credentials that Manolas and Carvalho both certainly have.