Kim Kallstrom: Can the Arsenal loanee be of benefit to the title chasers?
You can’t blame Arsenal fans for feeling just a bit unlucky at times. For almost nine long years they have suffered without winning a trophy of any kind, and just as their hopes of finally finding success are becoming realistic, this happens. To put it lightly, the loan signing of Kim Kallstrom from the Spartak Moscow hasn’t gone down very well, especially when they could have had the young up and coming German midfielder Julian Draxler instead.
So just what was Arsene Wenger thinking of bringing in a 31 year old who’s best days are long gone? To be quite honest, you will struggle to find anyone who knows why, even Spartak’s manager Valery Karpin expressed his surprise when he was told that Arsenal had made an offer for Kallstrom.
But if the Gunners want experience, then he is certainly the man. The Swede made his name with Lyon where he reached the Champions League semi finals just a few years back, and if he can recapture any of his past form, just maybe the Arsenal fans won’t be moaning for too long.
If he can recapture his form of old though is a big question. In the summer of 2012 Lyon were willing to release him for just 3 million euros to Spartak Moscow, and ever since, he has done in truth, very little. In 30 league appearances for the Russian club he has yet to set the world alight, and although he more often than not gets in the starting lineup, he makes absolutely no headlines.
What he does bring however is reliability. He may not be a Mesut Ozil kind of player, but he adds physical strength and solidity to the midfield, and every team needs one of such a player. Attacking wise he doesn’t offer an awful lot of goods. From distance he can strike a ball well, as he showed perfectly in September of last year against Zenit Saint Petersburg in the Russian league, but his statistic of 20 goals in his last 234 club games tells you that he doesn’t pride himself on scoring.
The biggest problem right now isn’t his lack of goalscoring, or actually whatever you want to say about his footballing ability. For at least the next six weeks Kallstrom won’t be able to make his Arsenal debut due to a back strain that he picked up at the mid-season Spartak training camp, and it begs the question: just what were Arsenal doing picking up such a player when they themselves knew he was carrying an injury?
Maybe the fact that Spartak will keep on paying his salary while he’s on the sidelines explains it, but nevertheless it’s certainly a strange move. And just what sort of impact he’ll be able to make when he does eventually get on the pitch is under scrutiny.
If nothing else, he brings stability and toughens up the midfield effectively, and for a team that is very young it’s no bad thing. I myself of course don’t expect that he will have much playing time.
It makes in all truth no difference to Spartak now that he has gone, and he’s the kind of player that without too much trouble you can replace. That’s now, though. Just a few years back at Lyon he really made an impact, so much so that even bigger clubs came sniffing around for him, and his ability with a dead ball drew up resemblances with Lyon’s former fan favourite Juninho Pernambucano.
Kallstorm will most probably be used by Wenger to come on at the latter stages of a close game to shore up everything. And I’m pretty sure that Kallstrom is 100% aware of this fact, but very few players are going to turn down a move to a top European club even if their past days have already been and gone.
Wenger himself though was quoted to having said that if Arsenal would have had just a few more days in the transfer window, they wouldn’t have made a move for the Swede. That kind of comment really doesn’t inspire confidence, and Kallstrom himself can’t have been too happy to see such words even if deep down he knows it himself.
He has barely any time to make Arsenal fans remember him with his loan just being until the end of the season, but if he can help guide the Gunners to their first Premier League title in ten years then no one will be willing to complain about him. It’s already been made certain that he won’t play a major role, but every team needs a player who can help see out a close game, a player who can add some well needed physical strength and solidness.
He has bags of international and Champions League experience that he can pass on to the slightly younger players for sure, and if Arsene knows how and when to use him, this might not turn out to be such a bad deal after all. The emphasis being on might.
Written by Shaun Nicolaides
Follow Shaun on Twitter @zenitfan93
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