Arsenal will enter the 2011/2012 campaign with the burden of six successive seasons without silverware, ensuring the need for success at the Emirates has greatly intensified. Naturally, the ongoing and dominating speculation for the Gunners will be just who Arsene Wenger will acquire to strengthen the North London giant's bid for the upcoming season.
Due to the severity of the amount of time that Arsenal have forgone success, Wenger has been granted an increased transfer budget ensuring a vow from the Frenchman to implement changes into his youthful squad. There is no denying the calibre of Arsenal's roster. Wenger formulated the basis of a terrific squad without the luxury of funds and over the pas few seasons has developed his youngsters to fruition.
However, it is evident that the Gunners lack the final boost and spirit to result in both domestic and European success. Fans and critics alike have stated the need for a quality central defender at the Emirates whilst the Arsenal midfield has also come under scrutiny.
There was a distinct lack of midfield depth as Arsenal endured their tragic demise of 2011 which ultimately eradicated their promising season. Despite boasting captain Cesc Fabregas, renowned defensive midfielder Alexandre Song and PFA Young Player of the Year Jack Wilshere, fringe players such as Denilson, Tomas Rosicky and Abou Diaby all failed to mitigate when the aforementioned absences occurred.
Naturally, a number of high-calibre midfielders have emerged as potential signings for Wenger, predominantly typical signings for the Frenchman. However, an unlikely player has emerged as surprise signing for the Gunners.
According to Just Arsenal News, Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has been linked with a £1.5 million move to the Emirates. A renowned if slightly tainted presence in English Premier League football, the Englishman enjoyed a stellar season with Newcastle as they maintained their presence in the EPL.
Barton amassed 35 appearances and five goals for the Magpies; however, in recent talks with Newcastle, the former Manchester City playmaker has failed to come to an agreement on a contract extension and now desires an exit.
A tough, tenacious defender who possesses a sublime passing range and impressive composure. The 28 year old has had his career darkened by off field incidents and erratic behaviour but there is no denying the quality of the former England international.
The Arsenal midfield particularly has often endured criticism for their lack of strength and power alongside a general diminish in spirit. The lack of depth during the later part of the recent seasons is also an issue and at £1.5 million, it provides Wenger with the opportunity to introduce some much-needed physicality and spirit to the Arsenal midfield.
During 2010/2011 Arsenal significantly struggled against the likes of Sunderland, Stoke City and Birmingham City in the Carling Cup Final, sides of the more physical, tough nature. Enforcing Barton's presence could greatly aid the Gunners in those matches effectively strengthening the Arsenal title campaign.
However, the off-field and on-field indiscretions that taint Barton as a player alongside his precarious reputation does provide an unappealing factor as an Arsenal signing. Thus, a conundrum for Arsene Wenger: Should he sign Joey Barton?