Thursday, 9 January 2014

Thoughts on Arsenal's transfer policy

Ever since Walcott got injured, we've been linked to a host of players like Jackson Martinez, Julian Draxler, Dimitar Berbatov and Alvaro Morata. Not to mention Diego Costa, Alexandre Pato and Javier Hernandez. Oh, and Karim Benzema too.

While I think that Wenger will want to buy a striker now that he is forced too, I highly doubt if he'll get a world class one. In fact, I'm certain. Imagining Karim Benzema or Diego Costa in an Arsenal jersey is a fantasy to me, the signing of Mesut Ozil has yet barely changed that.

In addition, I would be really surprised if he gets in anyone at all before 25th of January. Wenger is notorious in leaving transfer dealings as late as possible - I suspect that it's an addiction that he's created for himself. He probably thinks that if he makes a late attempt at a player the club might bend the rules to get the transfer through.

In recent years, a lot of integral players such as Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil have arrived at the club, late into deadline day. I get the strong feeling that Wenger is set to do the same in this transfer window too - try getting in a half-decent player on the cheap. It's a risky policy, and even if he pulls it off, I'm strongly against such a transfer ideology.

Some would say that getting deals done late to save financial losses is clever. I say it's cheap, and it's definitely putting money over football. If you're serious about winning a trophy this season, you would get in a quality striker early in the window - possibly by now - so that he integrates well within the team and performs well during the run-in. If you're getting a striker due to fan pressure and/or just for the heck of it, you would delve into the market late in deadline day, looking for cash-strapped clubs to profit from.

This is one of the things that I dislike about Wenger. Why does a player need to be injured for him to realize that that area needs strengthening? Why didn't he make enquiries of a player before Giroud, Bendtner and Walcott got injured? Why do we Arsenal supporters have to pray for strikers to get injured so that Wenger realizes what the whole footballing world knows - that the team needs a forward? Why can't we hope for Wenger buying a striker irrespective of our team's injury status instead of hoping that our forward's pick up a knock, and then Wenger invests?

Arsene Knows? I don't think so.

In an attempt to clear out another myth, I'd want to emphasize that we're not in as a tricky position as people have made it out to be this winter. The choices we have are simple: Either get a stop-gap 6 month solution or buy world-class right now. The club needs to make it decision, which I don't think they have. If we decide to go for a stop-gap solution, we can either buy Dimitar Berbatov from Fulham or get Alvaro Morata on a £2 million loan deal. If we want a long-term solution right now (which I highly recommend), we can either activate Diego Costa's £32 million release clause, or Jackson Martinez's £33 million release clause.

People would say that players would be unwilling to move mid-season to another club, but I don't think that they'd refuse if the club is Arsenal FC. From a player's point of view, Arsenal seems like an attractive proposition. It's a chance to get into global spotlight through the Barclays Premier League, it's an opportunity to play alongside Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil. Our lack in striker depth means that there is a probability to play regular first team football for a club that is at the top of the table at the moment. Oh, not to mention work under one of the most reputable managers of all time. Any footballer would be salivating to make the jump to the Emirates at the moment, and we need to take advantage of that.

We have the financial muscle, and we have the incentive. To add to that, we certainly have a manager who can negotiate his way through a difficult deal - witness Mesut Ozil's 12 hour negotiation and his transfer from Real Madrid to Arsenal. While it may not seem so, we actually have a lot of cards in our hands. I'm confident that if we have the willpower, we can get a deal finalized for players like Jackson Martinez, Diego Costa or certainly players like Dimitar Berbatov by 17th January.

But there's the snag. DO we have the willpower to buy a striker? More importantly, does Arsene? I think not, or else we would've been deep into negotiations with a carefully chosen target by now. Liverpool got Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea got Demba Ba early in January because they were serious about nabbing those targets. I'm still amazed as to how a manager like Wenger can be so blind to a team's player needs, and how he is still trusted by a clueless board.

Make no mistake, there are world-class players out there who would swap their club with Arsenal's in a trice, but the manager is making it appear as if there aren't any. It's is a really worrying sign, because you get the feeling that he's already formulating an excuse for failing to get in a (good) striker.

Meanwhile, the need for a center back is being completely overlooked. It's bad enough that Arsene has left only 3 center backs in the squad when he had a whole summer to fix it, but it's just shoddy man management to neglect that issue yet again. I cannot believe that Arsenal are not being linked to any defender at all thus far, especially when it is easier to buy a center back in this month than it is to buy a striker.

I'm getting the sinking feeling that the club are going to risk not getting a striker at all by waiting until the last moment, and are not going to buy a defender at all. I cannot believe that we're falling into a problem that we're creating on our own, and one that I had mentioned on my very first post back in October.

"The fact that we enter the first half of the season with only 3 center backs is ridiculous. I'm not even asking for a Thiago Silva to be transferred to the club, but wouldn't promising players like Miquel help fill up the boots? He would get some first team experience and also provide depth in an injury crisis.

It would be frustrating if the lack of transfers done in the transfer window would be a factor in our downfall, especially after having the financial muscle and the time to bring in the cavalry."

Spend, Arsene.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )

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