No new rumours for you to get your teeth into – just updates on previous rumours.
Firstly, we’ve been linked again with Shakhtar Donetsk winger Willian. Denilson wanted us to sign him a while back, despite being on his way out of the club, and from what I’ve seen of him he’s a decent player. Apparently he’s only valued at £5 million, while other news outlets report a fee in the region of £15 million. Somewhere in between would probably be about right.
Personally, I’m desperate for us to sign a winger. I think it’s an area in which we could use more depth – Nasri and Arshavin are our only natural wingers in my opinion, as Walcott often struggles. He has good games, but sometimes gets forced out of a game by his full back. I think Willian would be a decent option on the flank, but it depends on a few things. Personally, I can’t see Wenger going for him, but we’ll see.
Jose Mourinho has commented on the Benzema & Higuain rumours. He says they’re both “intransferable”, so it looks like both of those rumours are dead in the water at the moment. I doubt we’ll see that situation change, so right now they’re just pipe dreams.
Further fuel has been added to the “Odemwingie to Arsenal” fire, this time with a few major news outlets reporting that we’ve bid £4 million for the West Brom striker. This all came from wearethenorthbank’s exclusive about us being interested in Odemwingie, and I doubt there’s much else to it.
According to givemefootball, Arsenal & Chelsea target Romelu Lukaku will join one of the two soon. I can’t see him coming to Arsenal, he has Chelsea written all over him. It’s sad, because I think he’s going to be an absolute beast. In fact, at 6ft5, he already is. He’ll probably end up like Drogba, our nemesis, always scoring against us, which is a shame.
That’s about it for today, although if there’s anything worth reporting later on it might be up. Until then, I have to learn my German script. Auf wiedersehen…
(update: apparently Manchester United were scouting our target Ricky Alvarez last night. Hands off!)
A lot of transfer talk since my last post…
First up, Karim Benzema. He says he is “honoured at the interest from Arsenal“, but has spoken to Mourinho and thinks he will stay. He feels he has something to prove at Madrid, so it doesn’t look like Benzema will be coming to the Emirates. I did, however, read somewhere that Real will sell one of Kaka or Benzema, and with Aguero most likely coming in it could be Benzema. On the other hand, they’ve got a lot of midfielders, so I’d think it would be more likely to be Kaka on his way out of the Bernabeu.
The next story is Chris Samba. wearethenorthbank has the exclusive once more – we have tabled an £8 million bid for the Blackburn centre half. I’d absolutely love it if we signed Samba, although I’m a little unsure if he’d be good in our high line. I think we’ll be able to prise him away from Ewood Park, as he said he will have to consider his future.
After 73 goals in 85 league games, Radamel Falcao is a hot prospect. According to the Porto striker’s agent, us and Tottenham are willing to meet his £26 million buyout clause. He’s an absolute fox in the box, one of, if not the best headerers (is that a word?) of the ball in the world. He’d be a signing of real intent. However, for now, I’d just put this down as agent talk, only attempting to big up his client and get himself more money.
The ever-reliable Young Guns reports that Arsenal representative Richard Law has met up with representatives of Ricky Alvarez’s club Velez to discuss a transfer. Early reports that Alvarez was out of contract seem to be false – and it looks like Velez want something in the region of £8 million for their player. I think it’s a risk worth taking; he seems like a quality player. Right now I’d rate the deal as 50-50 to go ahead.
Eden Hazard says he doesn’t think he’ll leave – although he did say “we know that if a big club comes in with a big bid, I’ll be off”. I’m not sure if we’re able to make that big bid, but he’d certainly want to come here if we did. It depends on how much Arsene wants Hazard. Personally, I’d go all out to get him, he really is a huge talent. His comments seem to rule Liverpool out though – he said he wants to play in the Champions League with Lille or a big club next season.
As for departures, Arshavin is staying, which I think is good news. If we can get Hazard and Alvarez in and keep Arshavin and Nasri, we can rotate and keep all four wingers sharp – a little like what United do with Park, Valencia, Nani and Giggs. Carlos Vela’s agent says he’s still wanted by club, and I think we could do worse than be patient with the Mexican. The ever-reliable Marco Silva says Inter Milan are preparing a £6 million bid for Gael Clichy, and that Almunia has offers in Spain.
Interestingly, he also says Nasri will only sign a new contract when new signings are guaranteed. He claims that this is the reason for Wenger telling us to expect signings in “late May or early June”. It would be good to get all our business wrapped up early this year, so there’s a lot of time for the new players to gel with the team before the new season starts. (update: 20/6/11: Marco Silva turned out to be a fake account)
Finally, a little news on the youth front. Sky Sports say we’ve secured the deals for Barcelona youngsters Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin – apparently both had numerous offers from other top European clubs (and Aston Villa) but chose Arsenal to continue their development. More good academy news comes in the form of Oguzhan Ozyakup signing a new contract at the club. It had seemed like he was off, but it looks like he’s decided Arsenal is the place to continue his development.
Before I go, there’s a campaign to get a Sunday league manager as the next Chelsea boss. Apparently Martin Grisley is the “Mourinho of Abington Park” and has taken Dynamo FC to new heights. While it’s not a very real prospect, Coral have him at 100-1 to be the next Chelsea manager, and will give betting proceedings to Help for Heroes, which is a nice touch. Here’s the Facebook page, and there’s a bit about him on the Coral site here. All for a good cause.
A few stories for me to cover in today’s round-up.
Firstly, the Mirror reckons that if we don’t manage to sign up Samir Nasri to a new deal, we’ll reluctantly look to sell him this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case, but I think too much has been made over the whole contract situation. Many people around the club seem confident that Nasri will sign up, and his agent also said that the Frenchman wants to stay at the club. It seems like a case of wanting to focus on football for the moment, rather than wanting to join a different side.
The Mirror report also added that we will look to Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Goetze as a replacement for Nasri if he does leave. I can’t say I’ve seen much of him – in fact I’m not sure I’ve seen him play at all – but I’ve heard good things about him. Still, I can’t see Nasri anywhere else but the Emirates next season.
Robert Pires returns to Arsenal tomorrow for Aston Villa, and he’s had some words of advice for Arsene Wenger. He reckons we’re lacking English experience/grit – I think it’s important to note that the only English players who were regulars in the Invincibles side were Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole, plus Ray Parlour. I’m not sure nationality is the problem, but more so experience; another area which Bobby thinks we’re lacking in.
We should really sign some more experienced players, but Pires cited the reason for experienced Englishmen as being that “they know the English league”. I can’t agree with that – look at Vieira, Bergkamp, Henry, Ljungberg and Pires himself. They were all new to the league when they signed, but became world-class players over time. I for one think we should tap into the Italian league a little more. There are some excellent players there, for example, Gokhan Inler. Furthermore, Vieira, Bergkamp and Henry were all signed from Serie A, as was Kanu.
Continuing the talk about signings, the Benzema to Arsenal rumour continues to pick up pace. According to the Metro, he’s been “given the green light” for a £25 million move to the Emirates this summer. It’s a huge amount of money, and many are skeptical that Wenger wouldn’t go anywhere near that kind of sum for one player. However, it’s worth remembering that he did actually bid £20 million for Pepe Reina in the summer, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Benzema.
I’m a big fan of his, I think he’d add a lot to our play and score a lot of goals here. However, I also heard that Juventus had a £25 million bid for the French striker turned down. I can’t remember who said that, but Juventus fans seemed quite certain it was true. But as I always say – I guess we’ll see…
Finally, some words on tomorrow’s game. Nasri and Cesc face late fitness tests, but there’s a rumour that Conor Henderson is in the squad, which would probably mean one of or both of our star midfielders was out. Villa aren’t great away from home, and are on a dodgy run of form, so we should dispose of them easily.
Thomas Vermaelen should start, which will be great to see. We’ve missed him a great deal this season, and I can’t wait to see him appearing for us week in, week out again. And for anyone who’s interested – he’s now on Twitter, under the username T_Vermaelen05.
That’s all for today, I can’t be bothered to cover the glory of both Manchester sides, although in other footballing news, Benik Afobe put in a decent shift for Huddersfield in the playoff semi final first leg. He missed a decent chance, but other than that lacked service.