Arsenal are in a familiar position, the uncomfortable position where the clock is ticking away and some seemingly required business has not yet taken place.
First you have to understand Arsenal’s squad for the Premier League season. If the league was registered today (officially it is September 2nd at 5pm GMT) Arsenal would have 25 players over the age of 21 on the squad (26 if you count the injured Henri Lansbury); sixteen (16) Arsenal of those would not be homegrown.
If Arsenal are going to bring some people in, then a few more would have to go out, otherwise they would not be registered and would be limited to only the Carling Cup and FA Cup. They would be too old for the next gen/U21 leagues, and not available for the Premier League.
Who do we expect and want to be gone as Arsenal fans? Fans would be happy to see Squillaci gone, he chews up a spot and is obviously not homegrown. Send him away with Song and Bendtner and then Arsenal have the space to complete their shopping. The squad would be 22 with 15 not homegrown.
Looking at the gaps in the squad Arsenal would have to buy a little attacking cover and some defensive midfield help. Coquelin is not ready to shoulder the burden himself and Frimpong has his rehabilitation - (not including the issues related to twitter and his frequent rash decisions on the pitch – an example of his youth) - to worry about.
Attacking options (squad/U21, homegrown): M’Baye Niang – Caen (U21, N/A), Loic Remy – Marseille (squad, no), Fernando Llorente – Athletic Bilbao (squad, no), Javier Hernandez – Manchester United (squad, no), and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – Schalke 04 (squad, no).
Which option is most appealing? I think Niang and Llorente are the most appealing. Niang does not chew up a squad spot which is a bonus, and developing a youth behind Podolski and Giroud is appealing to me. Llorente has been described as very similar to Giroud, and his form last season shows that the talent is there. The stumbling block with both are the same, at the moment they are both overpriced. Niang’s price is inflated based on perceived demand and anticipated potential. Llorente’s price is inflated based on his previous sentence. For Arsenal to buy Llorente would be the same reason Manchester United bought RvP. If we are content with RvP going, and being sure that he will not hit the same lofty numbers, then we cannot buy Llorente or else we would be hypocrites.
What I want to know is WHO would you buy?
Defensive midfield options (squad/U21, homegrown): Yann M’Vila – Rennes (squad, no), Steven N’Zonzi – Blackburn (squad, no), Javi Martinez – Athletic Bilbao (squad, no), Etienne Capoue – Toulouse (squad, no).
Which option is most appealing? In terms of potential and overall skill, Yann M’Villa is the best choice. In terms of value, Etienne Capoue would be a cheap buy and produce returns. Steven N’Zonzi is the most ready to transition the Premier League having played there. However, Javi Martinez combines the best of the three of them. He is available, on a Spanish team that needs an influx of cash, he’s a quick learner, and he’s a capped international. Javi Martinez is my first choice.
Who do you want to replace Song or to back-him up while he is away at ACN?
And while you are typing your answers here is the last thing you need to think about… Can you do all of that in two weeks? Does Wenger have the time to sell 2-3 undesirables (Squillaci, Bendtner, Arshavin) and one starter (Song) at fair value, and then buy replacements? This is the sanding falling through the hour glass.
Wegner may be a transfer magician at times, but Copperfield, Eisenheim, Angier and Houdini would have to bow to Wenger if he pulls this one off. Watch for the “reveal” (pun intended) to start on Monday, until then, enjoy the opening weekend.