Samir Nasri Out for Up to Three Months: Screw It! Bring Back Alex Hleb
Darn preseason, darn broken bones, and darn those Arsenal players made out of glass.
This morning at Arsenal's annual preseason summer camp in Austria, French international Samir Nasri suffered a fractured right fibula that could put him out of action for up to three months.
Considering that Tomas Rosicky sustained a "short-term injury", only to return on Saturday against Barnet after an 18-month layoff, I'll not hold my breath.
Just when things were looking up on the fitness front for Arsenal with Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, William Gallas, Andrey Arshavin, and Tomas Rosicky all reaching full fitness, this happens.
With the sale of Alex Hleb and injuries to Rosicky and Walcott, Nasri was used in various midfield positions last season following his move from Marseille.
In total, he made 44 appearances and scored seven goals, including his memorable winning double against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
Although his first season at the club was a bit stop-start, with the Frenchman flitting in and out of games at times, overall it was a pretty successful first season.
The 2009-2010 season should see Nasri become an even more integral part of the squad, as Arsene Wenger's side must push for success, be it in the League, Champions League, FA Cup, and at this stage, the Carling Cup.
Even in the most dour of times, Arsenal were a club accustomed to winning silverware, and a fifth season without success would be unthinkable considering what the club promised fans prior to the move of stadia.
This upcoming season is pivotal for Arsenal; a repeat of last season will warrant a major rethink with Manchester City bound to progress up the league.
The start of the season is a hard one for the Gunners, who will need to get off to a flying start.
Arsenal have a tough away fixture at Everton, followed by the first leg of the final qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
This is followed by; Portsmouth (h), the second leg of the qualifier, Manchester United (a), Manchester City (a), and the first round games of the Champions League should the club make it through.
All this will have to be done without the services of Nasri.
There is, of course, no way Wenger could have foreseen this. Nasri isn't a "crock" bought on the cheap; it was a freak training accident that unfortunately saw Nasri come out the worst.
However, what Wenger can do is act.
He still has plenty of time left in the transfer window to find a solution, and not gamble on youth as last season.
Yes, you may say we have Rosicky and Walcott.
Rosicky is a gamble who is just back from a long-term layoff. Prior to his injury it was a gamble banking on his fitness anyway, so following his layoff it is even more of a gamble, one Arsenal can't put any chips on.
While we all love Walcott and so dearly want him to succeed, he hasn't fulfilled his early promise and is too inconsistent. In short, neither can be relied upon at a vital time for Arsenal.
We don't want to put Emmanuel Eboue in midfield again, do we?
So that leaves Wenger with a choice: He can gamble in believing in what he has, or else he can do something he has never done at his time with Arsenal.
He can bring back a player he sold.
Wenger was pondering bringing Nicolas Anelka back to Arsenal before he signed for Chelsea, so it's not beyond the realms of reality. On Arsenal's official website, Nasri is described as "a ready-made replacement for Alex Hleb."
With Nasri now out, that begs the question, why not bring back the original? Okay, Hleb may not be everyone's favourite ex-Arsenal player, considering the manner in which he left the club. He certainly isn't mine, and I chuckled at him sitting it out on the bench at Barcelona.
However, one thing that cannot be denied is how good a player Hleb is. He may not score many goals (Shoooooooooooooooooooot), but he has immense dribbling skills and the ability to draw in defenders, affording other Arsenal players space.
Added to that, in recent days Hleb has admitted he was wrong to leave to warm Barcelona's bench, and that this was no way to win a Champions League medal.
“When you mostly sit on the bench, winning titles brings very little joy, while getting to the last eight of the Champions League with Arsenal was unforgettable," said the Belorussian winger.
"I regret my move from London, but unfortunately nothing can be done about it now
"For me, Wenger was like a father. I consider him one of the best managers in the world.
"For such a boss one wants to die on the pitch. Arsene managed to create a smashing team with a wonderful atmosphere inside of it."
Is this a come and get me plea for a player that seems surplus to requirements at Barcelona? It is been muted that Hleb will form part of any deal that may involve a Samuel Eto'o plus cash swap for Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
However, from my recollection, Hleb wasn't a major fan of Jose Mourinho. With his comments above, would it be easy to tempt Hleb back to the Emirates? Would he rather "die for father Wenger" than play for Mourinho?
The pros for a move are immense.
Hleb knows Arsenal, he knows the EPL, he can play Wengerball, he regrets moving, and he would want to prove himself on his return.
The cons may be slight animosity between him and the Arsenal faithful, but with silverware in short supply at Arsenal and Hleb repenting, I think hard feelings would be in short supply in North London.
A one-year loan may work in favour of all concerned.
Barcelona don't seem to want him, Arsenal need cover in midfield, and Hleb wants to play first team football. Hleb is virtually saying he was wrong, so Wenger will have none of his pride to swallow should he seek to re-sign the player, even short-term.
Arsenal fans will come around to the idea. Those on Avenell Road have, and after just half an hour of the thought, so have I.
Hleb back at Arsenal? Of course...if it helps us push for silverware.
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