We're at the business end of the summer transfer window with just a few days to go before the window slams shut. As always, quite a few deals would be finalized in the final days, but this time around, Arsenal are looking to snap up players for a change.
Those who know Wenger well may not believe that he's looking to sign probably two or three players, having already signed Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh. That's a busy summer from Arsenal's perspective. However, has Wenger addressed the critical issues in the goalkeeping department? No, but he will have to.
On that note, let's have a quick glance at some of the goalkeepers being linked with Arsenal.
Mickael Landreau is a French goalkeeper who is hardly known outside France these days, although he has played for France international team in the past. He's the advantage of vast experience under his belt.
He has piled up games under his belt during a relatively long stint in Ligue 1. He was the loyal custodian of French club Nantes till 2006, since then he has moved on to play for Paris Saint Germain, and currently he's the guardian of Lille goalpost.
Arsenal need someone like Landreau who is experienced as well as quite good and strong. He would also offer a decent resale value should Arsenal decide to sell him once the hugely promising younger goalkeepers at Arsenal finally decide to step up.
Like most other goalkeepers, Landreau is also linked with Arsenal. A fee in the region of £5 m to £7 m will force Lille to sell their prized asset. Moreover, Landreau may be contemplating leaving France for newer challenges in one of the top-most leagues of Europe, ideally to the EPL.
Arsenal signing Landreau may be less likely, but Mark Schwarzer is the one close to completing his switch to Arsenal after a long summer of speculations.
By now, most Arsenal fans would be aware of the fact that Wenger isn't interested in concluding any deal straightforwardly.
If that was the case, Wenger would've easily secured the signing of Schwarzer a long time ago especially when you consider that the Australian goalkeeper has even handed in a transfer request to Fulham to make it easier for Arsenal.
However, for one reason or other Arsenal have failed so far and the arrival of Mark Hughes as the successor of Roy Hodgson at Craven Cottage hasn't helped either. This deal is most likely to happen before the end of the summer window, but only if Wenger ups his bid of £2 m. He could also consider meeting the asking price of £4 m because Arsenal are in dire need of a better goalkeeper than what they already have in their armoury.
Other goalkeepers like Maarten Stekelenburg and Shay Given are also linked but far less likely to happen though. Manchester City may rather send Given on loan to a second or third division club after agreeing to pay his full wage than to rivals Arsenal.
The Ajax keeper, Stekelenburg had a considerably good World Cup which has skyrocketed his price. Also his age would make the price go further up. A minimum fee of £10 m would be the least Ajax expect from the sale of their 27-year-old keeper. At the same time, you can't expect someone as parsimonious as Wenger to meet that valuation.
The vulnerability of Arsenal's defence came to the fore last season when the Gunners conceded 40-plus goals. Part of the blame must also be attached to Wenger, who refused to sign quality defenders, which forced him to field the likes of Mikael Silvestre against Messi & Co. What does that mean? Disaster.
This time around, Wenger has been careful not to repeat the same mistakes. He has already released all the dead woods. Though Arsenal have been linked with almost all the defenders in the world, only Koscielny has been signed so far.
French defender Sebastien Squillaci is reportedly a medical away from completing his move to Arsenal. He's 30 and has all the experience in the world to adapt quickly to Arsenal's system. Squillaci's signing should've been confirmed by now, but the delay is worrying. It's typical Wenger at his best. The reason may be a jersey of Squillaci's size isn't available or the letter "Q" couldn't be found.
Newcastle United's Steven Taylor is the latest defender being available in the English market.
The 24-year-old centre half is undoubtedly talented, and he is the kind of player who could add that much needed solidity in to Arsenal's fragile rear guard. Newcastle wasn't too keen on selling their prized asset, but circumstances have forced them to.
The cash-strapped club have repeatedly failed to strike a chord with Taylor over his contract negotiations. His demand of £60 k per week couldn't be agreed upon by Newcastle and hence the player is available.
Without even wasting a second, the rumour mills linked him directly to Arsenal as there aren't any other team in desperate need of defensive reinforcements as Arsenal.
At 6'2" Taylor is a good option to consider provided the Arsenal management are ready to take risk with his injury problems. He's the one most likely to replace John Terry in the international set-up as both have similar agrarian style. But if Taylor has any plans of emulating Terry's off-field dramas, then maybe Arsenal could do without him.
Roma defender Juan is the other defender strongly linked with Arsenal. At 31, he can't offer a long career at Arsenal. Although he's in the twilight stage of his career, Juan has been playing his best football in recent years. And Arsenal wouldn't mind churning three good years out of of this solid Brazilian.
Following a highly productive World Cup, Juan is a hot property and won't come cheap. Wenger wouldn't want to spend £8 m for a 31-year-old defender, or maybe he's weighing it up for a change.
If Wenger fails on all fronts in his struggle to find top defenders for reasonable price, expect Ajax defender Vertonghen to be a surprise target in the final few days. Arsenal's interest in him is quite apparent. Michael Ciani could also be another last-gasp option should the main targets fall apart in the final minutes.
Arsenal's midfield, as always, is technically superior to most other team in the EPL. May be one would like to see more steel in that midfield, but of course that's not a necessity.
So, it's time to go behind Wenger's long-term interests. Wenger has been a long-time admirer of Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa. The latest developments at Marseille suggest that Ben Arfa is certain to leave, which would immediately connect him to Arsenal.
A technically gifted playmaker with a fierce left foot wouldn't be a bad option for Arsenal considering their weakness on the left flank. Arsenal lack a natural left-winger, and Andrei Arshavin isn't really impressing enough to carry on at that position for a long, long time.
Hence, Ben Arfa at £10 m wouldn't be a bad signing at all. After all, he's a France international so why not?
Lille's Eden Hazard has been linked with Arsenal since his birth and once again there are whispers of his transfer finally coming to fruition this summer. I can't see that happening though. If you haven't heard of Hazard, then I would be glad to inform that Hazard is widely touted as the next Messi in France. One amongst several wannabes!
Don't be over-enthusiastic. Expect Wenger to sign a defender. And may be a goalkeeper too. Anything beyond would be a miracle.
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