Arsenal: Top 10 Gunners Transfer Rumors of the Week
One month to go, Arsenal fans.
One miserable month in which we will be linked with every half decent player who doesn't play in England and whose first name isn't Lionel, Andres, Xavi or Cristiano.
And most annoyingly, this list of players will not include anyone named Squillaci, Denilson or Almunia.
And that's the good news.
The bad news is this month will be followed by another evil month, better known as January. A month with a difference, because any of the aforementioned moves could actually happen.
Or couldn't. We don't know if, who, when, where or for how much.
That's the beauty of the football transfer market, with due apologies to the word "beauty."
As is the fashion these days, every agent’s or journalist’s whim becomes a “rumor.”
Without further ado, let’s dive into the 10 biggest agent/journalistic fantasies (involving players probably coming to Arsenal) making the rounds this week.
10. Olivier Giroud (Montpellier)
Olivier Giroud - goals in 2010-11
The 25-year-old Chambery-born striker joined Montpellier in January 2010 and has scored 23 goals in 51 league appearances for the French club.
He has also appeared twice for the French national team.
The imposing striker, who stands at close to 6'4", has been in sparkling form this season, scoring 13 goals in all competitions. He leads all comers with 11 goals in the French league, including a hat trick last weekend against Sochaux.
Giroud would be an ideal replacement for Marouane Chamakh, who is rumored to be on his way out of Arsenal in January. French big spenders PSG would be his most likely destination.
9. Gabriel Torje (Udinese)
Gabriel Torje, also known as the "Messi of Romania," is another attacking player linked with Arsenal in the January transfer window.
The Romanian has yet to find the target in eight games for Udinese but scored 20 goals in 137 appearances for his previous club, Dinamo Bucaresti.
The Romanian has made 15 appearances for his national team since his debut in 2010, scoring four goals.
In spite of his goal-scoring blank at club level, Torje has impressed at Udinese with his creative displays on the wing. Many are drawing immediate comparisons to his predecessor, Alexi Sanchez, who is now at Barcelona.
There appears to be a very slim probability of this deal going through, though.
Udinese are not keen to let go of a player they acquired three months ago and see him as integral to their Serie A title chances.
Club owner Giampaolo Pozzo has come out and asked the press to desist from circulating rumors of Torje's departure, because the club "have absolutely no intention of or need to sell."
8. Lucho Gonzalez (Olympique Marseille)
The agent of Argentinian Lucho Gonzalez is looking for one last payday.
The midfielder, 31 in January, is currently playing his football in France for Marseille. But he is reportedly on the lookout for a move.
His agent, Federico Simonian, was quoted in The Sun as saying, "Like every player he wants to make progress. He wants to be transferred to the Italian, Spanish or English leagues."
Arsenal were reportedly interested in the playmaker in the summer transfer window, but Marseille did not let him leave.
That was before they signed Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun.
Given the embarrassment of riches in Arsenal's midfield, plus the player's age and the expected return from injury of Jack Wilshere, this is one transfer that is very unlikely go through.
7. Roberto Soldado (Valencia)
Yet another striker recently linked with the Gunners is Valencia's talisman, Roberto Soldado.
Soldado, who has also been on the books at Real Madrid, has been in smashing form this season for his club. He has bagged 13 goals in 17 games, including two in a losing cause against Real, and a hat trick against Genk in the Champions League.
Having failed to make an impact at the Bernabeu, Soldado has struck a purple patch at his last two clubs, Getafe and Valencia, netting an impressive 71 goals in just 127 games.
Due to the striking riches available to Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque, Soldado has struggled to get selected for the national team, making just two appearances since his debut in 2007.
Signing Soldado would be a massive coup for Arsene Wenger, as the Spaniard can operate effectively in a lone striker's role or with Robin van Persie in a 4-4-2.
At 26, he would also add experience to the Arsenal squad. Manchester United are also reportedly interested, so this is certainly an interesting story.
Much also depends on Valencia's willingness to sell, which will no doubt be determined by their passage (or not) into the knockout phase of the Champions League.
6. Jan Vertonghen (Ajax)
Jan Vertonghen and Arsenal look like a match made in heaven.
He is a tough tackling center back who can also play at left back and is no mug at the attacking end of the pitch, either.
Don't believe me? Take a look at his goals—quite sensational for a defender!
Surprisingly, Vertonghen wasn't a media favorite to join Arsenal in the summer transfer window–Gary Cahill and Christopher Samba were the front-runners.
But with the return of Thomas Vermaelen, the similarities have been difficult to ignore—Belgian, plays for Ajax, imposing presence, leader, tough tackler and useful in the opponents' box.
The rumors seem to have died down recently (coinciding with Arsenal's improved defensive form).
But a story on Arsenal News seems to suggest that not only is the deal still on, but Tottenham are interested as well and may even be the favorites to land him.
I'm not sure Arsene Wenger will be keen on a defender in January, unless he gets rid of at least two who are currently at the club. But if he is keen to buy at the back, he needs to look no further than another Belgian from Ajax.
4 and 5. Eden Hazard and Moussa Sow (Lille)
An audacious transfer rumor reported by Caught Offside suggests Arsene Wenger is about to break the bank and sign Lille pair Eden Hazard and Moussa Sow for a combined fee of £40 million.
The transfer of Hazard has been suggested for a while now, but with Wenger well aware of his lack of creativity up front, it appears the Arsenal manager wants to go the whole nine yards.
While the Belgian, Hazard, is relatively better known than his Senegalese counterpart, he may actually be the player Wenger needs more. He is one of the most outstanding attacking talents in Europe at the moment and can play as a winger or an attacking midfielder.
He has racked up an impressive 25 assists since the start of the 2009-10 season and will certainly add another dimension to the Arsenal attack.
The Senegalese, Sow, is more of a central striker with an impressive goal-scoring record. He has scored 29 times for Lille in 48 league games, but he may struggle to get a start in Wenger's preferred 4-5-1 formation.
All said and done, the prospect of reuniting the championship-winning Lille triumvirate (Hazard-Sow-Gervinho) is truly mouth-watering.
But unlikely to happen.
3. Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund)
Another rumor that has been doing the rounds since the last transfer window has been the move of Borussia Dortmund's German playmaker, Mario Goetze.
I wrote a piece on Goetze's threat prior to Arsenal's trip to Dortmund in September, and although Gunners fans were denied a chance to watch him shine at the Emirates a few weeks ago, there is no doubting this wunderkind's immense talent.
He has 19 assists for Dortmund to go along with 14 goals since the beginning of last season, a fantastic return for a 19-year-old.
Germany coach Joachim Loew has shown his faith in the youngster as well, capping him 12 times already for the national team.
With Arsenal having all but knocked Dortmund out of the Champions League this season, there is a possibility the German club may be prepared to get rid of their most prized asset.
However, with German football in a great place financially, they will undoubtedly want to extract top dollar.
Bloomberg has reported that Wenger is ready to part with £30 million to get his man, but given his past track record, that remains to be seen.
2. Lukas Podolski (Cologne)
Lukas Podolski is one of the greatest enigmas of club football over the past 10 years.
He has scored 103 goals (mostly for Cologne in two spells at the club) in 274 club appearances. But this pales in comparison to his record for Germany, for whom he has scored 43 times in 95 games.
I watched him play against Portugal at Basel in the Euro 2008 quarter finals, and his all-around play (including a goal) on Germany's left wing was sensational.
But I have also seen him produce one listless performance after the other for his various club teams, especially Bayern Munich, for whom he scored just 26 goals in 106 appearances before leaving the club.
Not so good for a striker at a dominant club.
Given he plays for Cologne, not a Champions League team, Podolski might be one of the most attainable signings on this list. The Mirror reports he might be available for £20 million.
At 26, he possesses the right caliber and experience, and his versatility suggests he might fit into Wenger's plans.
1. Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Arsene Wenger has not ruled it out—interpret that as you will.
The King needs no introduction. He is the greatest Arsenal player of all time and has done it all and won it all.
While it would be foolish to expect he is anywhere near the force he once was, I think he could be a fantastic loan signing.
With Chamakh (if he's still with us) and Gervinho due to head off for the African nations championships in January, Henry would be a perfect stand-in.
He knows the club, knows the league and knows our opponents. He is a fantastic professional and has the respect of everyone at Arsenal.
And he's been training with us for a month so should be well acquainted with the new Arsenal by the time January comes around.
Sign him, Arsene. You could do a lot worse.