This is turning out to be the most extraordinary summer for Arsenal since Mr Wenger’s first summer in control.
The big deal that has just emerged seems to be the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin on a season-long loan, just like the loan we had for our old pal Yossi – who most fans agree served us well and with supreme dignity.
José Mourinho signed the Turkey midfielder from Borussia Dortmund just one year ago, but he hasn’t fitted in well at Real Mad, and has suggested that Sahin should look for a loan. Arsenal want to get this sorted in time for the game on 12 August.
He played 135 times in the league for Borussia Dortmund, 29 times for Feyenoord on loan in 2007/8 and only four times for Real Madrid. He has played 31 times for Turkey. But the figures hide the fact that for much of last year he was injured. He didn’t make his début on 6 November 2011 but by then the team was settled so he didn’t get many chances.
He was however highly praised for his appearance in the Champs quarter final match against APOEL but still could not hold down a place.
Malaga’s playmaker Santi Cazorla is still bobbing around, although Mr Wenger has dampened speculation in order to avoid too much excitement and raising of prices. Indeed what stopped an earlier bid was the price, but this has declined because of the chaos at billionaire run Málaga.
Cazorla, like Oxlade-Chamberlain is an all-round midfielder and can play wide or in the middle – and quite probably (given Mr Wenger’s ability to move players to wholly unknown territory – such as RVP as a centre forward, Santos as a winger, the Ox as a central midfielder etc etc) full back, centre back, centre forward and linesman. This is of course a major attraction (see my final note about injuries).
All the buzz that I get is that Cazorla has agreed personal terms in principle with Arsenal while Málaga is still not out of the mire. Sheikh Abdullah al-Thani sent Moayad Shatat to Spain last week to sort out the problems of finance, and this was supposedly to include reassurances about keeping Cazorla, as well as paying off the debts in time to secure the Champions League place. But it seems that this was the reverse of what happened and that the Sheikh is trying to sell the club. Billionaires eh? What would you do with them!
Meanwhile we still have Yann M’Vila from Rennes and and the 17-year-old forward M’Baye Niang from Caen being talked up. We’ve covered them here before and there’s nothing new, except their names keep on coming up. But here’s a new one: 21-year-old defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama from Celtic. He is from Kenya, and can also play centre back. He played 29 times for Celtic last season.Now Celtic don’t have one billionth of the problems Rangers have, but they do have the issue that this season they might not play Rangers at all. They certainly won’t in the league, and maybe not in the Cups. (I say this after watching Rangers play Brechin City yesterday, and win the match in a torrential downpour in injury time. To say that the standard was around that of the Conference North is to insult the Conference North. Just my opinion of course, but I thought it was dreadful and on this basis that chance of Rangers making it through to the latter stages of any competition seems remote).So this means that the big deal of each season for Celtic, ain’t there, and that seems to mean that Celtic are having problems in selling season tickets. Given that it is only the season tickets that really fill up Celtic Park for the lesser matches, this could be troublesome for the club, and hence their willingness to deal.
- Podolski - signed and ready to roll,
- Giroud – signed and ready to roll,
- Wilshere – should be playing games within a few weeks and ready for the first team by October. The longer wait is due to the desire to avoid the “Rosicky-Diaby” syndrome in which the body reacts badly to twists and turns after so long out of the game
- Oxlade-Chamberlain – yes he played for us last season, but what we are seeing now is nothing short of a miracle development. I would expect him to be first on the team-sheet, as opposed to just the six starts he had last season
- Ryo – unlike the Ox we are not seeing the best of him yet, but he will be playing for us – although probably for much of the time as a sub.
- Frimpong – after his loan and second long term injury we can’t be sure, but as long as his temper is kept under control he’ll be one of a number of valuable substitutes for Song.
- Francis Coquelin. The fact that he has really made the first team now is shown from the pre-season where he not only played, he played in various positions. That is part of the excitement about him – full back or midfield, he will deliver.
- Thomas Eisfeld – a surprise and a half on the tour. Maybe he won’t figure big time, given that he only got short runs in the tour games, but he will surely make some impact this year and be ready for a major blast next season.
- Abou Diaby - leaving the best til almost last. If you watch any of the films of Diaby when fully fit he is like a master of the field and the ball – and you can see why the French team felt they had lost before they started in the summer, with Diaby not there. Mr Wenger will do everything under the sun to protect him and let us see the true brilliance of his ability. Of course there are worries, but if he can stay fit he will be a first choice – which means we now have too many midfield players!
- Take your pick: Santi Cazorla, M’Baye Niang,Victor Wanyama, Nuri Sahin. Maybe we’ll sign the lot.
I firmly believe the mood in the club is that we will once again be the target of some malicious tackles as we have seen over the past four seasons when injuries have just gone through the roof compared with anything we have seen before. Therefore we need a bigger squad, and most of all a highly flexible squad. And that is what these ten players are all about.
It is shaping up to be one hell of a squad in fact – the only thing I am not clear about is how we fit all of them into the 25. Anyone like to do me an update on that?