Not written one of these for a while but as the ‘Winter Window’ nears and media speculation will mount over Wenger’s war chest and where it should be spent I thought I would. Yes it’s one of my if I had the cash who would I buy to for Arsenal blogs. Where would I be betting my money this year? This one may be seem a bit off the wall but my track record of knowing Wenger’s mind is not so bad. I predicted Giroud 10 months early and Arteta in advance as well. Had it not been for Mourinho’s pettiness or Wenger’s indecisiveness I could have chalked Sahin or Schneiderlin as number 3.
Firstly I should highlight the 2 obvious problem areas to be addressed, namely at the centre of the defence and in the holding midfield area – but we all know that! Secondly it is worth pointing out that with Arteta, as our skipper and on the verge of a new contract extension, despite what we all believe has Wenger’s trust anchoring midfield. I am not totally opposed to that as we are a stronger side with Mikel in it and retain possession infinitely better. My concern lies more with the attacking disposition of our fullbacks and how it leaves our captain’s lack of pace exposed unnecessarily. I have already written on this subject and my views are here. In short with Ox, Theo and Alexis providing speed and width do we need our fullbacks pushing on and overlapping? Not in my view.
I think it is also worth considering, although again unpalatable to most fans, that it would be unusual for Wenger to go out and buy big or buy multiple in January. There are reasons for this, not least players being cup tied in the Champions League but also the elevated prices and we all know out manager’s reluctance to pay over the odds.
So what do I think we are looking for based on the above introduction? Personally and not without logic, given who is to return from injury, I think buying a player who can be equally accomplished at centre back or in defensive midfield would make perfect sense. When Debuchy returns Chambers will be in need of a rest and I am certain he will be given time to recharge. From here on he is cover centre back where I am certain is future lies. When Koscielny returns, I for one would like to see him as the lynch pin on his right foot, not spending his time continually worried about a colleague’s positioning and pace. Whether you agree with me or not about Per not being a guaranteed starter it is logical with Chambers as cover CB and right footed that we have a left footed defender is the new addition.
So to recap in my opinion we need a top class left footed central defender, who can play alongside Koscileny who is comfortable on the ball and good enough to go straight into the starting eleven, even when all fit. We should be looking for starters to improve us not squad additions. I would personally add to that for January additions Premier League experience if not vital is certainly preferred. I guess the list is narrowing and many are thinking Nastasic but if we add on the final requirement it narrows further. Because whilst I would love us to return with the proper offer for Morgan Scheiderlin that seems unlikely, so I want the new signing to be able to play when required at the base of our midfield in the big game and the tough away fixtures.
To narrow the list further and based on 18 years experience of Wenger, he does go back for players he has openly admired or courted in the past. I am very surprised he did not take a second look at Yanga Mbiwa, who whilst not flourishing at Newcastle was superb at CB and DM for Montpelier and now on firm again on loan at Roma. However I assume it was because he has 3 right footed central defenders and saw a fourth, even one who could play DM as too many. So we are left with one outstanding target to my way of thinking.
The only real question I have remaining about the player I think ticks all the boxes, both for our needs and Wenger’s foibles is whether his existing club would sell to a rival. Particularly when that rival is a few miles down the road!!
Yes the obvious player for us to go all out for in January is currently unhappy, out of favour, inexplicably and has broken contract extension talks with Tottenham. Jan Vertonghen is accomplished, proven, aggressive, fast and crucially left footed. His is 27 and at the peak of his ability and still has many good years ahead of him and we know that Wenger admires him.
I think the only thing that prevented Arsenal signing the Belgian when he left Ajax was the fact that then Wenger wanted him solely as a defensive midfielder, already having Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker in 2012. This information came incidentally not from me but from the player himself. However now his compatriot has departed for the Camp Nou and Mertesacker is 2 years older and two years slower. You would have to assume that if Arsenal returned now offering a chance at the Champions league, mainly a central defensive role alongside one of the best defenders in the world, with occasional defensive midfield duties, Vetonghen might have an altered perspective.
There are other factors we can add to this. He sees a Tottenham side who are struggling under a new manager who does not, for some absurd reason see him as the first name on the team sheet. There is speculation about the future of the club and its ownership and Younnis Kaboul is his captain??? I could go on and I will….. Thursday night football, a disjointed squad bought by a previous manager and disharmony in the camp, with players out of favour and turning on the fans.
So from this simple fans view here is a summary. Vertonghen is a top flight left footed centre back and we have none of those. He can also play defensive midfield and has done for his country and Ajax and we know Wenger admires that. He has his best years ahead of him so a 3 or 4 year contact on a far superior salary could be offered to secure his future. He would improve our defence and make for a far more solid, balanced and mobile partnership as well as given is an easy option in the anchor midfield role when required. Of course having 2 swifter defenders behind our midfield would also assist Arteta. The player this summer is into the last year of his contract so the pressure will be on Spurs to sell at a lower price than is they accepted a good offer now from Arsenal.
The question is not really whether it is a good deal for Arsenal but more whether our fierce rivals would ever accept selling to us? In the modern world money talks and I suspect £15 million plus would solve a fair few on our issues if and under pressure Levy could be convinced. Were we to make a open overture I suspect player power might kick in and we could have the next Sol Campbell on our hands!
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