If the cyber-world ever implodes, it will be because of Arsenal transfer rumours. This is due to the preferences of our manager who has a soft spot for young and unproven players and our actual needs (a world-class finisher and a defensive midfielder with physical abilities to shield the defense). As a result, we have been connected with every player of the age between 7 and 77.
The most persistent rumour is – you would never guess! – the one that Gonzalo Higuain is about to join Arsenal, especially now when Real Madrid finally appointed Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager. Now, I’ve seen only a few logical questions on the aforementioned cyber-world that revolves around one very logical point: why on Earth are people so sure Carlo Ancelotti would sanction a sale of a world-class finisher like Gonzalo Higuain? Like they say – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The Argentinian is yet to reach his peak as he is only 25 but already has had a lot of experience under his belt. Any of the new strikers Real Madrid sign – whether it’s Edinson Cavani or Luis Suarez – would have to go through a period of adaptation, not to mention the possibility that neither of them would be pleased to play second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Now, there is a factor that might be on our side and it is Florentino Perez’ hunger for glamour. During his first reign at Madrid when he introduced a project called “Zidanes y Pavones” where super-star players (mostly those who play in creative and attacking departments like Zinedine Zidane) are joined with young talents (mostly defensive players like Francisco Pavon who later failed to match the expectations), he usually did stuff that didn’t please Del Bosque who was in charge as manager. For instance, when Del Bosque asked for a striker and a central defender in the 2001 summer, Perez gave him – Zinedine Zidane, arguably the best playmaker in the history of football, but also the type of player Del Bosque didn’t ask for.
In the case of Gonzalo Higuain, that might mean Florentino Perez will sell Higuain and sign more a attractive striker like Luis Suarez or Edinson Cavani no matter what Ancelotti has to say about it. Ancelotti – just like Del Bosque – has a reputation of being a nice human being (also known as: “totally the opposite of Mourinho”) and that leaves a lot of lee-way for bosses like Perez and Abramovich to run their transfer policy by their wishes, while totally ignoring wishes of their respective managers.
Now, we all know that the transfer window hasn’t opened yet but all teams that have serious intentions have signed a player or two except for Arsenal. United signed Zaha, the Chavs signed Schuerrle, City signed Fernandinho and Jesus Navas while Liverpool signed Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Aspas and Alberto. On the other hand, Arsene Wenger so far has arranged just the free transfer of Yaya Sanogo, an injury prone youngster from Auxerre.
Given that we are obviously doing a Mata on Fellaini by keeping the purse strings tight, the Rooney story is obviously a far-fetched one considering his wage, Cesc is going nowhere from Barcelona and the Higuain story is coming close to that point where Gooners will lose their nerves if they don’t get a player they want, we should be prepared – just in case – for a summer of disappointment when it comes to transfer deals (at least when it comes to players that will join Arsenal). So far, we have had some good moments given that we parted ways with deadwood like Squillaci, Bendtner, Arshavin and Denilson but we need at least two top signings – a world-class finisher and a beast in the midfield – to compete with the best clubs in England next season. The thing is, we have needed the same two players since Van Persie listened to a screaming brat inside him and Song decided to join the club where Arsenal players screw themselves by joining, but we haven’t signed them yet.
I remember the summer of 2011. I had high hopes for the squad that was so close to grabbing at least one trophy, a squad I thought would be strengthened so we could compete with reigning champions Manchester United and their oil-rich local rivals as we were linked with players such as Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Chris Samba, Karim Benzema and others. Instead, we sold three players from the first team, with two of them leaving us for Manchester City, and replacing them with only one player (and that one player was Gervinho). If we hadn’t lost 8:2 to United, we would probably would have gone through the rest of the season with the same squad. That heavy defeat forced Wenger – in a similar fashion Gibbs’ injury against Liverpool which made him to sign Monreal – to act fast in the market so he signed Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and Chu Young Park to fill the gaps.
Perhaps it is just a reflex but I don’t want Arsenal to go through a similar thing this season as well. I want us to sign quality players that are going to feature in our Asia tour in order to blend with their team-mates instead of watching a scene that we could have seen at least ten times last season – one of our players in opponents’ penalty box looks angrily at his team-mate because the latter had no awareness that his team-mate was in a better position.
Let’s hope I’m just being pessimistic without reason and that we are going to sign two top-players on time!