Arsene Wenger and the Case of the Lost Chequebook
Arsene Wenger has oft been considered a shrewd manager, signing relative unknowns and transforming them into world class players. Up until 2006 these players gave everything to Arsenal to win trophies and only left when Wenger had no more use for them, Vieira, Henry, Ljungberg, Pires, Toure to name but a few that gave their best years to Arsenal.
Wenger is a man that lost his personal chequebook on a train out of Strasbourg some 30 years ago and decided it was easier to learn to live frugally than to swallow his pride, call his bank, admit that he made a mistake and pay the fine for the replacement chequebook. This frugal living became the norm for Mr Wenger, both personally and professionally. Traits he carried with him through the ranks in France and to the other side of the world to Japan and finally to North London when in October 1996 he put pen to paper on a contract with Arsenal Football Club. Some time between October 1996 and November 1996 his newly issued AFC chequebook found itself floating under Highbury, through the sewers of London and out into the Thames never to be seen again……
Now the season has ended and Arsenal have finished disappointingly fourth having been in the running for 4 trophies 10 weeks earlier and still in the title race just three weeks before many Gooners will be praying that Arsene’s lost chequebook will surface in time for some serious business to be done.
Arsenal fans are hoping that this summer will be spent persuading players of grit, determination talent and winning mentality to join the club instead of the usual close season at Arsenal where Wenger can be found with his arm down the back of the sofa scrabbling around for some loose change to fund his next purchase. If the reports are right then Wenger has made his first signing already, Ricky Alvarez, a tall Argentinean attacking midfielder on a free transfer, another unknown for next to nothing.
Arsenal need one player to improve their squad. Sorry, one additional player, an extra body you could say to improve their team. Sadly they also need to replace 4/5 players. But can Wenger do it on a shoestring? No. He can’t. What he can do is add that shoestring to the purse he’ll make from selling off the chaff.
Alvarez could be a replacement for the much and deservedly lambasted Abou Diaby. Tall, strong, attack minded. Hopefully everything Diaby is but also everything he isn’t, cool headed, intelligent and selfish in front of goal.
Denilson has managed to explain his decision to request a transfer from Arsenal after much difficulty in being heard above the cheers of delirious Gooners after the first part of his announcement to leave the Gunners. With a guaranteed sale to a Spanish or Italian club on the cards Wenger could move quickly to sign Scott Parker from West Ham. A club in dire need of funds and the removal of big wages from their wage bill. Could be a snip.
Rumours are circling that Wenger will go back in for Schwarzer, despite trusting young Szczesny to come up with the goods he wants an old head to help steer the ship from the back and potentially join the coaching staff. Alumina’s number looks to be up so it could be a straight replacement. Almunia out, Schwarzer in.
Eboue may be on his way out also. The full-back-cum-winger-that-offers-little-offensively-or-defensively is supposedly being eyed up by Barca, Juve and R. Madrid. The latter two are more likely with Italy probably being the most likely of destinations. I have mentioned before that Young Jenkinson has been eyed by Arsenal and would be a good back up to Sagna. Eboue out, Jenkinson in.
Rosicky looks to have also come to the end of his journey with Arsenal, his lack of fitness, form and influence has surely put the writing on the wall and I would not be surprised to see him leave for peanuts or be released. Young Ryo Miyachi will be joining up with the Arsenal team in pre-season and work permit allowing I would expect him to take Rosicky’s place in the squad. It’s a real shame because I think Tomas is a fantastic player who could discover his sparkle again but I don’t see that happening unless he plays central midfield for 10+ games to get his rhythm back. I think Little Mozart still has plenty of symphonies inside him but I think he’ll be composing them for someone else. I hope I’m wrong.
Bendtner has also expressed a desire to leave as he cannot believe that the best striker in the world doesn’t get in the first team ahead of someone who scores as few goals as Robin Van Persie. A proven goal scorer or natural link man would be Wengers best options. Benzema has been mooted as a potential signing as has Podolski but that would require his chequebook to turn up which we have already established has been lost for a long time and will probably never see the light of day again and even if it did unless the person that finds it knows anything about football it might never get to Wenger as he has moved stadium since he last saw it. Wenger could reignite his interest of a few seasons ago in Carlton Cole, recently relegated West Ham might be glad of the cash and the promise of a few young sparks on loan.
Arshavin has been pinpointed as someone who will be on their way out this summer for a long time now but Wenger recently said that he would be staying. I assume that he will stay unless an offer of £15m+ comes in.
Squillaci just hasn’t been the experienced head that Arsene had hoped for. Despite being ‘old’ in Wenger standards, he did not speak English, which isn’t necessarily a problem at Arsenal, and had no experience of the Premier League. I expect Wenger to release him or sell him back to a Spanish club. Potential replacements are hard to point to as Arsenal are linked with every CB in the business. Names which keep cropping up are Cahill, Samba and Vertonghen. Matthew Upson has also been mentioned quite a bit recently but I can only see that happening if Arsenal lose one more CB and Arsene is looking for a partner for Vermaelen not a replacement. At the moment it looks to be a straight choice between Cahill and Samba, Owen Coyle has said that Cahill can leave if the money is right, which it probably won’t be as it is Arsenal and Samba said that he almost joined Arsenal in January. Samba looks to be more likely as he is a cheaper option but with Blackburn staying up it could well be another unknown. For the blood pressure of Gooners everywhere lets hope that it is one of the aforementioned.
Clichy, the last of the invincibles, is yet to sign a new contract and is rumoured to be sold to Real Madrid as Wenger refuses to allow a repeat of the Flamini situation to happen. Whilst this may sadden many Gooners, losing the last of the invincibles, they will be comforted by the knowledge that Clichy’s ability as a defender is far from invincible and was actually vanquished in the 2008/09 season and as his ability to cross was stillborn they aren’t losing much other than a name with a better reputation than is truly deserved. Leighton Baines has been earmarked as the replacement and there isn’t much wrong with that.
Wengers first priorities will be to ensure that Nasri signs a new contract and that Fabregas stays with the club. Unfortunately he cannot focus all of his attention on Cesc as he’ll be so busy waiting for September 1st that he’ll forget to sign anyone and will try to style it out by proclaiming his team to be one year older and ready to win a trophy and that they needed no additions and even if they did there was no one of quality around. Or maybe Wenger just didn’t see them?
Wenger should table an offer to Nasri right now and give him until the end of June to sign the contract. If he doesn’t then he can sell him and he’ll have two months to find a replacement.
Wenger needs to address the issues in his squad and quickly. If Wenger can complete all of his business in the next 6 weeks then he’ll have made a massive statement of intent and can look to plotting Arsenal’s assault on the title and qualification for the Champions League proper. If he hasn’t made amends by August 1st then someone, somewhere at Arsenal needs to order him a chequebook and themselves a new pair of boots for kicking him up the arse with.
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