Though Arsene Wenger is probably on his way to South America for the summer, it is certain that he will be actively involved in finalizing transfers as well as deciding on the futures of several players in the current Arsenal squad. Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson have confirmed that they want to quit the club, and some others are likely to follow in the summer.
The Gunners have been linked with a number of players in the summer, and relegated West Ham's central midfielder is one of the targets for Arsene Wenger in this transfer window. West Ham have appointed Sam Allardyce as their new manager, and they will hope that he can take them back to the Premiership in his first year.
However, Scott Parker has hinted that he is likely to move in order to play at the highest level. The hard tackling midfielder has reportedly attracted the interest of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham and could be signed by one of these clubs. Though Parker is currently 30 years old, he was the best player by a distance for West Ham, and also won the Football Writers Award for the 2010-11 season.
Parker started his career at Charlton Athletic where he impressed and attracted the interest of many clubs due to his impressive performances. He was signed by Chelsea, which meant a big step in his career, but he did not get many opportunities to prove himself. He was discarded by the Blues only one-and-a-half seasons after signing with the club.
Since then, he has played for Newcastle United and West Ham United where he has been excellent for both clubs. Though Parker's performances for the Irons this season were in vain, it is likely that he will move on to a club in the top six of the EPL this summer. With Arsenal amongst the clubs being linked with him, this is an article on what Parker brings to the Gunners, and also on Arsenal's problems in defensive midfield
Arsenal have not had enough leaders in the dressing room due to a lack of experience. Fabregas, in an interview with the Don Balon, admitted that the guys look up to him and Van Persie. Parker is a player who is vastly experienced and can help others to cope with pressure. Also, he has played in a team with much lesser quality, and has the capability to bring out the best from others as he showed with West Ham.
The England International is a hard tackling player who is good defensively and can thrive in the defensive midfield role, though he can contribute effectively in attack as well. He is experienced in the Premiership and can cope with the physicality and the pace of the league, which means that he will not need time to adjust to the team.
Parker can play in the role of Jack Wilshere or Alex Song, and there is no quality back-up for Song if he does get injured. Though Abou Diaby has played in that role, he is not suited to a predominantly defensive midfielder role, and Emmanuel Frimpong has only just recovered from his injury which saw him miss almost the entire season.
It would also be personally good for Parker if he joins Arsenal since he can play in the Champions League, which no other club interested in him can offer. Also, he would play alongside Jack Wilshere at club level which will improve his chances of getting selected to the England team where Wilshere is certain to start.
With a player of Parker's experience, Arsenal's mentality is likely to improve and his never-say-die attitude and commitment to the cause could be just what the Gunners need to get over the finishing line at the end of the season. In more detail, here are five reasons why Parker should be considered by Arsene Wenger, who rarely spends a sizeable fee on a player aged 30.
Parker's transfer fee could be a problem considering his age and the fact that West Ham will not let him depart on a bargain, though he is likely to quit the club. Also, Arsenal's major problem this season has been dealing with set-pieces, and signing another short player will not solve the problem. This is why Wenger wants to bring more variety in height this year.
Also, he could be frustrated with the lack of opportunities at the club if Wenger opts to play Song ahead of him. Though he played one-and-a-half years with Chelsea, he is not experienced with the Champions League, which boasts high quality teams from around the world. He is not quick which means that he could struggle with fast counter-attacks which is what the Gunners have struggled to deal with in the past.
He has played through the pain barrier on some occasions this season, and that could yet come back to haunt him because he could be injured next season having played a number of games for West Ham despite sustaining some injuries. The last thing that Arsenal would want to have is another player who is a frequent visitor to the treatment room, but let us hope Parker, irrespective of which club he joins, can stay fit for most of the season.
Should Wenger sign a Defensive Midfielder in the Summer?
Arsenal have been linked with a number of players in various positions and it is difficult to predict which positions are at the top of the agenda for the Arsenal manager. But it is logical to predict that the Gunners are likely to be in the market for a strong centre back who can provide stability to Arsenal, who have been woeful in defending set-pieces.
However, the Gunners currently have four defenders in Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou, Thomas Vermaelen and Sebastien Squillaci. In this scenario, Arsenal would sign a strong physical centre back like Gary Cahill or Christopher Samba, who are both excellent in the air. Koscielny and Djourou have both shown immense promise for the future and will only get better next season, but it is likely that the manager signs a player who relishes aerial battles.
If Arsenal signs a centre back who is likely to be in the range of £10-15 million, then it will be hard to sign a defensive midfielder like Parker, who will cost another £8 million. The Gunners will also look to sign a striker who can be prolific since Van Persie has been injury prone, and also a left winger because Arshavin has been inconsistent.
The problem for Arsenal is that with the African Nations Cup in January 2012, Alex Song and Emmanuel Frimpong could be away with their national teams, though it looks increasingly likely that the Cameroon International will not be a part of the squad. One alternative which can be considered by Wenger is that the Arsenal defenders are quite good on the ball and can play as midfielders when required.
Though Vermaelen is currently Arsenal's best defender, he has a tendency to attack far too much and can get caught out of position for a centre back. However, he has excellent technique, can shoot from range and can easily slot in as a defensive midfielder as well. Johan Djourou has played as a defensive midfielder in his youth and can also do the job in midfield.
Koscielny, who has been excellent in many games this season for the Gunners including high profile games against Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United, can be paired alongside the new defender and also, he has also shown good potential with his distribution. He can also possibly play in the defensive midfield role, though he is not accustomed to the role in his short career.
In the absence of Alex Song due to injury or Internationals, Thomas Vermaelen or Laurent Koscielny could play in his role with the other as the centre back partnering Johan Djourou or the new signing. If a centre back who is good on the ball plays in defensive midfield, it will also mean that Arsenal will have more presence in the box for defending set-piece situations.
In addition to this, youngsters Emmanuel Frimpong, who was on the verge of breaking into the first team squad before his cruciate ligament injury, and Kyle Bartley, who has shown a lot of promise in his loan spells, could also provide depth for Song. In my opinion, playing Vermaelen or Koscielny as a defensive midfielder alongside Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere has to be considered by the manager since it will provide much more security in defense, which has been Arsenal's achilles' heel in the recent past.
This article is also featured on The Invincible Gunners, a blog on Arsenal