So, here we go guys and gals, the utter arse ache that is the summer transfer window; arguably the only time of the year Arsene Wenger will dip into the club’s cash reserves and buy some players. It is also a time of utter frustration, compulsive head-scratching and incessant thigh rubbing (although usually there’s less of this) from Arsenal fans.
An example from this week –
Thomas Vermaelen, club captain and vital component of the defence (okay, not a starter, but look past him, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as the three options, and who else do you have to play at centre-back? Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou? Well, no…they’re gone, buddy), linked with a move to revitalise Louis van Gaal’s new Manchester United backline. Utter frustration.
Nacho Monreal, who is seemingly off, despite frequent first team appearances where he successfully (for his art) masqueraded as an internationally capped left-back…utter frustration if he’s not replaced.
Santi Cazorla, new deal signed in March and a pivotal part of Arsenal’s attack. Whilst last season he didn’t quite scale the heights he’d reached (on tip-toe) before, most Gooners probably forgave him after that free-kick in the FA Cup final. And yet…and yet…linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, whose side is currently being fileted like a deer carcass on the table in front of a master butcher. Utter frustration, especially after the exits of Lukasz Fabianski to Swansea City, Bacary Sagna to Manchester City and the non-bid for Cesc Fabregas, who has taken his expensive leather-bound suitcases down Fulham way to take Roman’s Shilling.
Just to rub a heap of sea salt into the gaping wound, Arsenal have been linked to Tom Cleverley. You know, Manchester United’s star midfielder Tom Cleverley, a man who said in an interview with the Daily Mirror when trying to defend himself against brutal Mancunian bullying:
“My job goes under the radar at times. I am not a player who’s going to beat three or four people and stick it in the top corner or go round tackling people like Roy Keane.”
Which begs the follow up question of – “OK, so what do you do then Tom?” A head-scratcher of a move, I am sure you’ll all agree. Where on Earth would he even play at Arsenal? DCM? Or do we need a new corner flag? Passing over Fabregas for Cleverley? I don’t know about you, but I’m going grey where I’m not already bald just contemplating that one. And yet I can easily see van Gaal letting him go…
As for frantic, frothy thigh rubbing potential, some of the players being linked to Arsenal include the mercurial AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli (cue talk of Puma funding the move), the slightly underwhelming (and soon to be leaving Bayern Munich) Mario Mandzukic (who I am sure would actually be quite a decent option), Sami Khedira, for whom I’d drive to Real Madrid to collect, Sao Paulo’s Rodrigo Caio (no, me neither); a Brasilian defender *slash* defensive midfielder (this sounds like another Nelson Vivas to me…) and fellow countryman and defender, Bressan. No, not he of Fiorentina and perpetrator of an amazing overhead kick vs. Barcelona in 1999…another guy, who plays for Gremio.
Quite the collection of names. Plus of course there are regularly linked players such as Julian Draxler (staying in Schalke for another year, or so he says), Serge Aurier (who probably really should have signed by now if it was happening), Iker Casillas (put a fork in him, cos’ he is done), Chris Smalling (oh, f**k off now), Edison Cavani (“nurse, the curtains!”), Carlos ‘Bargaining Chip’ Vela and Antoine Griezmann (whose price has no doubt tripled after his impressive game against Honduras).
So, after watching the first round of the World Cup (which is a vintage one already, by the way), who would I sign if I had Wenger’s PIN number (what risk of signing a player based on a World Cup outing?)?
In goal, I would, quite simply, go all out for the Colombian, David Ospina. He has, apparently, got a mere year left on his contract with OGC Nice, and has looked good so far. I think he’d push our cocky Pole hard (did that come out right, oops, did that?) and would surely be available for a nominal fee. Failing that, I’d seriously look at signing the Mexican ‘keeper Guillermo Ochoa, who looks like he will be leaving AC Ajaccio on a free transfer after the World Cup finishes.
In defence, I would be raiding The Netherlands with more zest and zeal than a weekend stag party from Newcastle. First stop, Rotterdam and the De Kuip stadium, where I’d throw clogs of money at Feyenoord for Stefan de Vrij to cover right-back and centre-back, Bruno Martins Indi to cover left-back and centre-back and Daryl Janmaat to maraud up and down the right flank (like his very own cat walk, the dishy bastard) but perhaps only Janmaat if the Aurier deal is dead in the water. And you know van Gaal is thinking the same thing too. After that, I’d head up the low country to Amsterdam and lob Euros at AFC Ajax officials (preferably Marc Overmars, who knows all about swanning off when a good offer comes his way. No, I’m not bitter. At all) until they shouted “Shtop, shtop, you can have Daley Blind, you bashtard, now go, go! Pleashe leave ush alone now!” As I think Blind would be an ideal replacement for Monreal. His passing and vision is utterly superb.
For defensive midfield/midfield bully, I’d fly down to Turin and use a succession of dump trucks to pile up enough bullion to tempt Juventus to part with Paul Pogba. Now I know he’d probably be sold for a fee higher than Mesut Ozil commanded, but my gosh, he’d be worth it. And we’d also get to see him clash more often with Wilson Palacios. Win, win. Should he be unattainable, then I’d pop over the Alps and try for Lars Bender at Leverkusen, who could also cover right-back as well. We’ll replace you somehow, Bacary…
For the ever-growing gaps in the Arsenal attack, I’d nip down south to Milan, and using Puma’s hefty wedge, prise Mario Balotelli out of AC Milan’s grasp, then nip across the Med’ for a brief weekender in Barcelona, where they are desperate (the ignorant f**kers) to offload Alexis Sanchez. Yep, I’ll have him, and a Bojan Krkic too if I may (yes, I know that he may be spent already, but who better to revitalize him than Wenger?!). Should, in the unlikely (!) event that Arsenal have acted too slow in grabbing Sanchez, I’d pop up to the Basque country and tempt Real Sociedad to part with Antoine Griezmann, for a bit of cash and a hardly-used Carlos Vela.
Unlikely, well, if you look at these figures, you can see that Arsenal appear to have a bit of cash in surplus:
Bacary Sagna, Nicklas Bendtner, Lukasz Fabianski, Emiliano Viviano and Chu-Young Park leaving the wage bill – is circa £190,000 per week freed up.
Potentially incoming fees (worst case scenario, mind):
Thomas Vermaelen transfer fee – £10m
Nacho Monreal transfer fee – £9m
Santi Cazorla transfer fee – £18m
So that is £37m right there, plus their wages off of the books too…let’s say £200,000 per week.
Current ‘transfer kitty’ before the above sales; circa £100m by most reports.
What would my ideal signings cost? With a little guidance from Transfermarkt.co.uk:
Ospina (one year left on deal) – £4m/Ochoa – free
Martins Indi – £8m
Janmaat – £10m
De Vrij – £6m
Pogba – £50m/Lars Bender – £25m
Balotelli – £30m
Sanchez – £20m (although Barcelona no doubt still owe Arsenal a wedge of cash)/Antoine Griezmann – £20m/P-EX
Bojan – £5m
Grand total – £140m for my best case, first choice scenario, or £111m buying my second choices. Take away the £37m acquired from the sales above and it is a healthier looking £103m or £74m per scenario…
And I’ve not even mentioned the (very real) potential that Lukas Podolski, Carlos Vela and Ryo Miyaichi could be sold in the summer too…which could represent another £25m in transfer fees there as well. And the hopeful return of the Uruguayan-busting Joel Campbell…in which case, I’d subtly leave Bojan at the side of the checkout and hope a fastidious worker puts him back on the right shelf – ‘Strikers, in need of TLC.’
Of course, this is all rampant speculation, but ‘when in Rome’, eh?!
I’m as worried by this talk of a clear-out as the rest of you probably are, so, similarly as in the event of a zombie apocalypse, it’s best that we’ve planned ahead. And what would Wenger really do, we shall see. It might very well rhyme with ‘Duck Ball.’
Right, I’m just off to the loo with a picture of Jogi Low from the Portugal victory, positively glowing in all of his sartorial master-class…for, ahem, research purposes.
Thanks for reading, enjoy the next week of this cracking World Cup until we meet again,