The end is indeed near, the final curtain about to drop. In just shy of seven days time, there will be no more speculation for this transfer window. And this week is going to party like it’s 1999, in that respect. The Party Seven has been placed on the table, a proud centrepiece alongside the bottles of Babycham and Snowball. The Bombay Mix is in the bowls as we ready ourselves for the frenetic frenzy of names on a yellow background to speed along the bottom of life’s screen.
Speculation is already rife, eye-watering deals for £51m proclaim the arrival of Edinson Cavani. Yes, the water is tears of laughter at the prospect. Luis Gustavo is mentioned in wires once more, it can’t be long before Yann M’vila pitches his tent at Colney to await being called for a medical. The oft-touted Kostas Manolas is no longer the summer’s defensive solution with this morning’s Daily Mirror reporting the Greek centre back is being seduced by the siren sounds of AS Roma.
It’s just as well Arsenal have the Champions League to fall back on. Which they will, of course, once Besiktas have been overcome at The Emirates on Wednesday. The midfield will be tested by Aaron Ramsey’s absence through suspension and I am sure Arsène will come up with an innovative solution to solve that problem. Not just in the Welshman’s contribution to the battle but his goals, particularly since Olivier Giroud reportedly left Goodison Park with his ankle in a protective boot on Saturday night.
The French international revitalised the performance and deserves the credit he is receiving. Much is being made of Gary Lineker’s tweet during the Besiktas match which claimed that any striker ought to be able to score twenty-five goals in a season with Arsenal’s midfield supplying the opportunities. Given Giroud scored twenty-two last season in all competitions, a 10% improvement seems like natural progression to me. Arsène is confident that will come despite indicating that he thought that would be his total in the Premier League,
“He scored 16 [in the Premier League last year] and he’s very convincing. You never have to set any limitations for any player. For me, he’s improving every year and don’t rule it out that he scores 25.”
To add half as many goals again in one competition is asking a lot of the Frenchman and is reliant upon his fitness. I recall reading some time ago that the last time Giroud suffered a serious injury was during his Tours playing days, five or six years ago. In the modern game that is a long time and a run of good fortune that whilst you obviously want it to continue, is at some point going to come to an end.
That prospect is worrying, particularly when you consider Arsène’s list of alternatives,
“We have Sanogo who will be an important asset, we have Giroud, we have Lukas Podolski, we have Joel Campbell who can play centre forward. We have Alexis and Walcott coming back. Let’s not forget that.”
Which means that you have a striker who hasn’t scored in fifteen games, one who is expected to leave this week either on loan to Juventus or returning to the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg, ably supported by a new signing who cannot get onto the pitch in Premier League games and two wingers, the experiment with one didn’t work whilst the fitness of the other is not to be relied on entirely. We’re in great shape in the striking department as anyone can see.
That isn’t to say that one of them isn’t the solution and if you had to pick one who would probably make a success of it, Walcott would be that choice. I don’t understand the proclamations of greatness heaped upon Campbell, they are born more of hope than substance.
None of the transfer talk is straightforward and anyone who claims it is, is fooling no-one but themselves. It takes two to tango but dancing with a potential new player is a lot more crowded. And Wenger has a point about availability,
“All of our opponents look for strikers as well and nobody finds a world-class striker available who is better than the strikers you have.”
Whilst that is undoubtedly spun to suit his own reasoning, it is not as far from the truth as some would have you believe. The fees for the strikers who would make a difference will be astronomical at the best of times. With the lunacy besieging the Premier League’s fallen giants, it is guaranteed. Manchester United are so desperate for players that even Real Madrid are enjoying reversing roles by holding them to ransom over Angel Di Maria. If the reported fee of £75m is correct, no wonder they are happy to keep Sami Khedira for another season now. Even at the £63m mentioned last week, United’s desperation is leading them to overspend heavily on the Argentine. There’s a fine line between paying money to complete deals efficiently and folly; United are far beyond that point now. I am sure that it will be spun as more evidence of Van Gaal’s genius.
Whatever the case, it seems unlikely that any deals before the end of the transfer window will be completed before Wednesday’s match. Reports from Portugal suggest that William Carvalho is waiting to see if Arsenal qualify for the group stage of the Champions League before committing to a transfer. It sounds more like newspapers trying to adopt an escape position if the deal doesn’t happen, readying an excuse. What will the reason be if Arsenal make it through?
A busy week of speculation lies ahead, get your tin hats and tinnies at the ready.