The clock is ticking.
Persistent links to strikers on their way to the Emirates continue to fill much of the tabloids; however the talk of signing the likes of Salomon Kalou and Marouane Chamakh from Chelsea and Bordeaux are hardly eye catching or particularly needed in comparison to other parts of the team. The sale of Kolo Toure to Manchester City and the impending departure of Phillip Senderos to Everton leave Arsenal looking thin on natural centre backs. The problematic William Gallas has surprisingly remained with the Gunners, even after publically criticising his team mates. Mikael Silvestre has failed to win over gunners supporters with his performances, even being labelled as ‘geriatric ‘by club shareholders. Young Swiss defender Johan Djourou appeared twenty six times for Arsenal last year scoring one goal and provided a bright spot for Arsene Wenger, who must be worried about the state of the defence as the new season approaches.
New boy Thomas Vermaelen completes the quartet after his arrival from Ajax in June. Untested at this level, the young defender must fit in quickly or face the wrath of a despondent Arsenal support without a trophy since the F.A Cup triumph in 2005 where a certain Patrick Vieira scored the winning penalty. With the latest departures and money burning a hole in Wenger’s pocket a top class centre back must be on the agenda. Brede Hangeland of Fulham has been linked to Arsenal and even though not being the big name superstar gunners fans crave, he would add much needed height and steel to an Arsenal defence bullied away from home last year at Stoke, Everton and Manchester City. Wenger clearly prefers to bring through youngsters, which he has done a fantastic job of doing. His policy may hinder any possible deal for Hangeland; however maybe it’s time to sign a few more existing stars rather than ones for the future.
With Robin Van Persie, Andrei Ashavin, Eduardo, Nicklas Bendtnar, Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela all in the Gunner’s squad an additional striker should hardly be the priority. More on the agenda should be the arrival of a holding midfield player that has not been brought in to replace Mathieu Flamini who left for AC Milan in 2008. Links to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, now of Inter Milan, have left Arsenal fans in no doubt that he should be the one to fill the void. However Vieira is now thirty-three years of age and notoriously players coming to the end of their careers sign for Italian clubs for the slower pace game in Serie A. Therefore a transfer back to Arsenal may not be a deal to benefit either party.
Inter would not demand a high fee for Vieira, however his high wages would be a clear stumbling block. There are also question marks over whether Vieira would be able to survive the high demands of a thirty-eight game Premier League season.
In comparison to Vieira there are many holding midfield players on the ‘right side of thirty’ so to speak, that would provide Wenger with a far better option. One of which is the former Liverpool Midfielder Mohammed Sissoko, currently of Juventus, who has been likened to Vieira’s style of play over the years. Despite only being twenty four years of age, he already has a wealth experience playing in La Liga, The Premier League and Serie A. Another player to fall into this category would be Marco Donadel of Fiorentina, aged twenty-six. Donadel has played over one hundred games in Viola and has been at the heart of the midfield that has been credited for Fiorentina qualifying for the Champions League last season. The market clearly contains younger experienced players than Vieira, which would provide Wenger with a better option.
The fear for many Arsenal supporters must be if voids in the team are not filled, free spending Manchester City will be able to push them outside of the top four for the first time since the 1995/1996 season.