Arsenal Transfer Prospects: 8 New Potential Replacements for Andrei Arshavin
Arsenal's promising 2010/2011 concluded with little more than a whimper. After a horrific demise, that circulated upon a shock defeat in the Carling Cup Final on the final day of February, ensured the Gunners finished the season without silverware for the sixth successive season before eventually achieving a feeble fourth place on the English Premier League table.
Most of the Arsenal faithful are adamant, despite the evident calibre and talent of Arsene Wenger's young squad which has matured and developed rapidly over the last few season, that changes need to be enforced if success is to materialize at the Emirates. Fortunately Wenger has vowed to implement changes into his squad with fans keen for the Frenchman to eradicate the liabilities in the Gunner's roster.
Whilst numerous players are currently connected with a move to North London, one man who has been heavily linked with a move away from the Emirates, however, is Russian dynamo Andrei Arshavin. 2010/2011 saw the 30-year-old achieve 50 season appearances, the most by an Arsenal player in all competitions, 10 goals and an outstanding 17 assists, yet despite his efforts, a potential move is still on Wenger's cards.
An occasionally lazy figure whose tendency to disregard defensive duties and the importance of situations, Arshavin's attitude throughout the season has evoked negative responses from the disgruntled Arsenal fans coupled with his ageing presence.
But Russia's captain has the ability to tear apart the best defences in World Football, and there is no denying his calibre and attacking prowess. Arshavin's statistics highlight this even further. None the less the former Zenit Saint Petersburg dynamo, who cost Wenger £15 million in January 2009, could be departing Arsenal during the up coming summer.
Ten replacements were already established only weeks ago in this article but eight new potential replacements for Andrei Arshavin have emerged. However, this is not to say Arshavin is to be sold by Wenger. Take a look.
8. Ricardo Alvarez- Velez Sarsfield
Arsenal fans are eager to witness the quality, big name players whose chances of joining the North London giants intensify as transfer talk begins to commence immensely. Whilst the likes of Karim Benzema and Christopher Samba have been heavily linked with moves, the most certain to materialize is the signature of Velez Sarsfield winger Ricardo Alvarez.
A hugely surprise signing yet the 23-year-old is destined to join Wenger's squad after strong speculation in recent weeks. A quick, imposing midfielder who conveys impressive technique and versatility, the Argentine has amassed over 50 appearances for Velez Sarsfield and has long been touted as one of the most promising players in Argentina despite a career somewhat tainted by injury.
Alvarez's fee is still uncertain, but there is no denying the promise the midfielder possess, but is Ricardo Alvarez just what Wenger needs?
7. Ryo Miyaichi
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The Japanese dynamo was officially secured by Wenger on the final day of the January Transfer Window despite conclusive trials at the renowned Arsenal academy throughout the year. The 18-year-old was considered the best teenager in Japan and was immediately sent on loan to Dutch giants Feyenoord.
Miyaichi's ability had been well documented by Wenger and the Arsenal officials but a stellar stint in the Eredivisie has ensured World Football is eager to watch more of the Japanese winger. In 12 appearances for Feyenoord, the teenager secured three goals and was one of the most exciting performances in the Netherlands.
Miyahci became an instant fan favourite and drew comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, even acquiring the nickname "Ryodinho." An immensely fast attacker, who is touted as quicker than Arsenal winger Theo Walcott, strong and clinical, the Japanese star has been rewarded with a place in Wenger's pre season squad which could follow with first team honours.
Should Arshavin depart, then it could provide Wenger with the opportunity to immediately promote Miyaichi, and one cannot only think to wonder that the Japan U-19 winger could emulate Jack Wilshere's debut Arsenal first team season.
6. Leandro Damiao- Internacional
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The Brazilian striker is largely chased by a number of big name European sides including UEFA Champions League kings Barcelona, Liverpool and Tottenham. Arsenal also speculated to be on the 21-year-old's radar after a stellar season in Brazil. Damiao scored a prolific 22 goals in 24 appearances for Internacional and was rewarded with a call-up to the Brazilian national team.
Damiao is still a young prospect who has conveyed the ability to thrive in the Premier League. Powerful and composed across the forward line, the Brazilian international looms as an ideal replacement should Arshavin depart. However Internacional are said to command a hefty price for their striker with up to £12 million rumoured.
However, many sides are targeting Damiao which could restrict Wenger as the more funded sides close in.
5. Kieran Gibbs
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Although primarily a left back since becoming an integral part of Wenger's squad, the English international began as a midfield and there have been increasing calls for Gibbs to be shifted to the wing. With veteran left back Gael Clichy dominating proceedings, constantly restricting the 21-year-old, who is considered one of the best young English prospects in England, the lack of playing time diminished Gibbs's confidence this season as performances in recent weeks exposed.
Despite rumours Clichy could depart the Emirates this summer, not all, including Wenger, are confident the Englishman has the calibre and ability to succeed in the promotion of Arsenal's first choice left backs. Whilst some have demanded an EPL loan spell for the former Wimbledon youth, who was forced to 20 appearances this campaign, predominantly in the domestic cups, others believe Gibbs has the ability to become a promising winger.
Defensively solid, the young gun thrives with an attacking game, often charging down the left flank showing strong speed and a viscious cross. The Englishman is destined for big things but consistent playing time is the priority. It could be time for Wenger to make Kieran Gibbs a winger.
4. Mathieu Valbuena- Olympique De Marseille
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French, creative, quick and skilful. Mathieu Valbuena would certainly be a "typical" Wenger signing and not one that would be disheartening for the Arsenal fans. The 26-year-old has been a consistent, attacking presence for French giants Marseille, where current Arsenal dynamo Samir Nasri arrived from.
Valbuena evokes many comparisions to Arshavin, largely due to his small staure of 5'6" and quick feet. Experienced domestically and internationally, the former Bordeaux youth has been linked with a move to Arsenal that is not exceedingly expensive.
The Frenchman would thrive under the Arsenal style play particularly as Valbuena enjoys a strong relationship with many of the France internationals on the Arsenal roster. Should Arshavin depart than Mathieu Valbuena would more than mitigate the Russian's absence as he is more than effective as a left winger.
3. Charles N'Zogbia- Wigan Atheltic
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Despite completing a thrilling final day victory to remain in the English Premier League, Wigan Athletic are destined to lose star winger Charles N'Zogbia to bigger clubs as the Frenchman attempts to compete for UEFA Champions League and EPL honours.
The 24-year-old has been outstanding for Wigan since arriving in 2009 and has enjoyed a particularly strong 2010/2011. Thirty-six appearances and 10 goals aroused for the 24-year-old, who is equally dynamic on the wing, at left back and through the middle. An ideal, cheap and effective replacement should either Samir Nasri or Andrei Arshavin depart, N'Zogbia is also a keen fan of Arsenal Football Club.
2. Ashley Young- Aston Villa
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One of the deadliest and clinical wingers in World Football is desiring a new club with Arsenal one of his preferred option. Ashley Young has grown tired of the lacklustre Aston Villa and is believed to be up for grabs pending sides are willing to play rumoured £20 million to £30 million.
Blessed with devastating speed, balance and feet alongside a ferocious shot, the 25-year-old is well worth the price tag. With Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin both rumoured to be departing the Emirates, Young would more than mitigate either's lack of presence.
The English international is a genuine attacking threat with the ball and would thrive under the Arsenal style of play, but is Wenger willing to spend?
1.Stewart Downing- Aston Villa
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Since Stewart Downing declined a contract extension with Aston Villa and declared his intentions to grace UEFA Champions League football, Arsenal have emerged as huge contenders to secure the Englishman's services. One of the most consistent and damaging midfielders in the EPL, the 26-year-old enjoyed a stellar campaign of 40 appearances and eight goals in what was a disappointing campaign for Villa.
Boasting Premier League experience with over 200 appearances and a strong 25 caps for England, the former Middlesbrough attacker would be a tremendous presence on the Arsenal roster. With brilliant feet, a ferocious shot and versatile approach, Downing has the ability to eradicate any lingering problems should Andrei Arshavin depart.
A price is still unclear should Aston Villa be resigned to sell their Player of the Year but there is every chande Stewart Downing could be joining the Emirates.