Category Archives: Transfer Gossip

Josip Drmic: Thoughts on Arsenal’s Transfer Target

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Should Wenger decide to stay at Arsenal and extend his contract that’s already on his table, this would be a pivotal summer transfer window for him. This summer could see Bacary Sagna joined by Nicklas Bendtner and Lukasz Fabianski, two players that are sure of leaving as their contracts expire this summer.

This ultimately means that should Wenger not decide to extend Emiliano Viviano’s stay, he will have to shop for a new goalkeeper. Sagna’s exit could see Carl Jenkinson rise to the upper echelons of first team football but with the likes of Seamus Coleman, Serge Aurier and Lukasz Piszszek available for the taking, Jenkinson’s wait for regular football might be extended.

However, Arsenal fans would be keen to see who the club brings to bolster it’s options in the central attacking position. After failed pursuits for Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, Arsene Wenger laid his eggs on an Olivier Giroud basket and when the Frenchman was found wanting the Gunners could only look to a Dane whose heart is fixed elsewhere and a young French untried and untested lad with some ‘potential’. For a club of Arsenal’s calibre, that’s not good enough.

This is a club that has seen great strikers like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Nwankwo Kanu and Robin van Persie score goals with consummate ease. Now the club has a striker that blows hot and cold on the pitch and be has become a scapegoat for the fan’s frustrations off the pitch.

While the fans are eagerly anticipating a ‘big name’ this summer, the media vultures are reporting that Arsenal can sign this season’s Bundesliga sensation, Josip Drmic, for as low as €2.5 million if FC Nurnberg suffers the ignominy of relegation. Apparently, there’s a ‘clause’ in his contract that’s states that he can be available for that knockdown price if his club plummets into Bundesliga II mediocrity.

So the million dollar question is this : Who is Josip Drmic? :S

Drmic is a Swiss youngster that’s making waves in the German Bundesliga this season. As we all know, FC Bayern dominated the league this season and have set their sights on conquering Europe but while top dog, Mario Mandzukic, leads the scoring charts, Drmic is just behind the big Croat with 16 goals for struggling FC Nurnberg. For a player this young to get this large haul of goals in his debut campaign, a few eyebrows are bound to be raised.

Young, relatively unknown and technically astute. This guy has the ‘classic Wenger signing’ tag written all over him.

Josip Drmic, who began his professional career as a footballer at FC Zurich, made his league debut in 2010, having risen through the youth rank. He joined Nuremberg only last year, and has become one of the most prolific strikers in the Bundesliga in only his first season.

With the creativity at Arsenal’s disposal, a player like Drmic could benefit and his goalscoring haul this season has proven that he’s a good finisher, which would bolster Arsenal’s chances of scoring goals in games. The club can boast of Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott as it’s best finishers but both players can’t lead the line on their own.

Drmic’s off the ball movement will make him a thorn on the flesh of opposition defenders and he’s comfortable with both feet. He also has raw reserves of pace and for a player so young, his confidence and ability to play as a target man is exemplary. Which ultimately means that he could be a flicker and hold up player like Giroud but he also does his thing on the business end – clinical finishing.

To wet your appetites a bit, here are some clips of the lad’s exploits this season.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X3gpO8MUaeM

Whether Wenger takes the punt on the young lad remains to be seen, but if be does, I firmly believe that it would be a move worth its weight in gold.

Sayonara.

Sagna and Fabianski Reject New Deals: Thoughts on their Futures with the Club

Lukasz Fabianski and Bacary Sagna are poised to leave Arsenal

The exodus from Arsenal continues

Arsenal has been renowned in recent times as a “selling club” following the high-profile departures of key players in recent seasons. Unlike a club like Atletico Madrid that replaces a high-profile departure with an equally exciting new signing, Arsenal usually replaces their stars with cheaper options that won’t match the player that left for greener pastures.

For instance, Arsenal lost two creative talents in the forms of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the same summer but the manager chose to favor an Aaron Ramsey that wasn’t ready at point in time, so he struggled for fitness and form. More recently, the Gunners lost a perpetual goalscoring machine of the first kind, Robin van Persie, and replaced him with Olivier Giroud, a forward that combines his purple patch of good form with goal droughts.

This summer, it looked as if the Gunners finally got it right in the transfer window, as the club was a deadwood-disposal campaign which saw the likes of Gervinho and Vito Mannone leave for meager amounts while Andre Santos, Denilson, Andrey Arshavin, Seb Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh left for nothing. The Gunners went on to sign a progidal son, Mathieu Flamini, and a world-class talent in Mesut Ozil, which gave everyone a lift.

Since then, Arsenal has mounted an impressive Premier League campaign (currently in second place), awaiting a FA Cup fifth round clash at home to Liverpool and they have a double date with the European champions, Bayern Munich.

Just when we thought we were having a bad start to the week after the decimation at Anfield, the Daily Star has reported that the club’s most consistent fullback, Bacary Sagna, and reserve goalie, Lukasz Fabianski, have rejected new deals with the club and are set to leave on a Bosman this summer.

According to the Daily Star, Fabianski said,

 “I want to be No.1 in the club and in the Polish national team. I have learned a lot at London during very positive and challenging periods. With biggest respect to this great club, I didn’t accept the extension offer as I am looking forward to a new challenge in England or abroad.”

Since his arrival as Manuel Almunia’s deputy in 2007, Fabianski has made just 71 appearances and has kept 22 clean sheets. That’s an average of just 10 games per season and for a young keeper in need of consistent game time, that’s not good enough. His cause isn’t also helped by the fact that he’s been benched by his Polish compatriot, Wojciech Szczesny, and with Artur Boruc doing well in Southampton, Fabianski is unlikely to add to his 21 caps for Poland.

Fabianski’s save of life against Wolves in 2010

The Polish goalie has expressed his dissatisfaction over lack of game time in the past and there was a time when he instructed his agent to find him a new club. Lukasz Fabianski arrived at Arsenal on the back of two Polish League Goalkeeper of the Year awards for 2005 and 2006 but he was a deputy for Manuel Almunia. Wenger offered the Pole a chance in the Cup competitions but he continued to push hard for a first team place.

It was fabled that Fabianski kept like a goalie with eyes behind his back on the training ground but he couldn’t replicate that form on the pitch. When I think of his top-notch calamitous moment against Porto in February 2010, I always give myself a few fits of laughter but Fabianski matured as a player in the 2010/11 campaign. Manuel Almunia let complacency creep into his game and Fabianski came in his stead and grabbed the bull by its horns and its balls.

Goalkeepers' Union: Szczesny congratulates Lukasz Fabianski at the end of the 2-0 win at Swansea on Saturday

Fabianski benched Szczesny, albeit temporarily, at some point last season

There were times when Fabianski would have had the chance to make the No. 1 jersey his, but he has had some bad luck with injuries. After usurping Almunia in the 2010/11 campaign, Fabianski played consistently and put up some great performances notably against Everton (away) and Wolves (away). However, a shoulder injury paved the way for Szczesny to make his Premier League debut. Last season, Wenger reinstated Fabianski ahead of Szczesny in the crucial encounter against Bayern Munich and he kept his place against Swansea recording two clean sheets in a row. Unfortunately, a rib injury suffered in the game against Norwich cost the Pole his place.

There are not many second-choice goalies that are as good as Fabianski and with his heart made up with an imminent departure, I wish him all the very best. I hope he moves to a Premier League mid-table side so that at least, I can get to watch him on a consistent basis, and when he comes to the Emirates, his songs will be in full voice.

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I’ve shared my thoughts about Bacary Sagna’s future and I won’t drawn into making more words on it but all I can say is that losing a player like Sagna would be disastrous, but if the club can replace him with quality players like Lukasz Piszczesk, Seamus Coleman, Sebastien Corchia or some random bloke from outer space, the blow would be softened. I don’t believe that Carl Jenkinson has what it takes to replace Sagna yet but he’ll get there soon.

Jenkinson v Sagna

According to the Daily Star, Sagna is upset that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal did not approach him sooner about a new deal, leaving talks until his final year at the club – in sharp contrast to their approach to other stars. Arsenal wants Sagna to sign a contract extension with the same amount of £60,000 a week but the defender feels that he deserves more.

For a player that has served this club with all dedication even to the extent of breaking his leg twice, it would be a shame if Arsenal loses Sagna because of a few extra pounds. Teams like Galatasaray, Paris St. Germain and AS Monaco will be willing to break bank for Sagna and for the fact that we haven’t heard any info about them signing a pre-contract with the fullback, it means that he still wants to stay but he believes that he has earned a pay rise.

Sagna would be 31 on Friday and this protracted saga would continue till the end of the season. However, it doesn’t look as if it’s affecting his game, even though he and the rest of his teammates had an off day in Anfield.

I’ll keep you updated as the situation unfolds.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Link with Paul-Georges Ntep

Auxerre chairman Guy Cotret has revealed it would take a 'huge' offer to sign Paul-Georges Ntep de Madiba in January.

Another Frenchie…

Arsene Wenger, as we all know, is a proud Frenchman and he has strong ties with the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. In his 18-year stint with Arsenal, he has signed a couple of players of French descent and Olivier Giroud became the 24th French player acquired by Wenger.

However, for every Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Bacary Sagna, Sylvain Wiltord and Samir Nasri he signed, there was a Mikael Silvestre, Pascal Cygan, Marouane Chamakh, Jeremie Aliadere and Sebastien Squillaci.

According to the Express, Arsenal is set to beat the likes of Tottenham and Aston Villa to signed the highly-rated French youngster, Paul-Georges Ntep. To add fuel to a raging inferno, Ntep posted a picture on Instagram showing a train ticket to London.

BdtzkT2IMAAIxtx Auxerres Paul Georges Ntep (linked with Arsenal) posts Instagram picture heading to London on the Eurostar

Arsenal is not the only team interested in signing this young lad as the Daily Mail reports that Queens Park Rangers are also hot on his tail in their bid to return to the Premier League next season.

The bloke was born in Cameroon but his moved to France in his early years. He played in a couple of youth squads before breaking into the scene in 2010, and in 47 Ligue 2 games, he has scored 13 goals with seven of them scored in 17 games this season.

Paul-Georges Ntep

It is believed that he could arrive to the Emirates for a transfer fee of £7 million but I tend to wonder if he’s worth the punt. The Express reports that Auxerre is also facing financial difficulties, so they would been keen to sell Ntep to balance their books.

Arsenal’s first acquisition from Auxerre was a certain Bacary Sagna in 2007 and he has become an indispensable member of the squad. With 262 appearances for Arsenal and five goals in that mix, Sagna is regarded as one of the senior members of the squad and his consistency levels are second to none. He has had his injury concerns as well as the contract issue that is yet to be resolved. Galatasaray intends to lure him away with a huge pay check but he’s in advanced talks with Arsenal for a contract extension.

The second acquisition  from Auxerre (Yaya Sanogo) came this summer and he’s probably in a lab somewhere being used as an experiment alongside Abou Diaby. We would be hoping that the newly-hired head of sports science, Andy Rolls, would resurrect their injury-plagued careers.

Ntep’s form isn’t all that and his club is currently in 12th place in Ligue 2, which doesn’t bode well with their qualification hopes. I can understand the fact that it’s really hard finding targets in January but signing a player like Ntep won’t really inspire any confidence.

I feel that he’s in the mold of Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva and Ryo Miyaichi that would be signed and probably loaned out almost immediately so why take the punt on such a bloke? If we can’t sign any player this January that can make an immediate impact a la Andrey Arshavin, let’s keep our money in the bank and spend big in the summer.

According to the Metro, Arsenal intends to buy Ntep and loan him back to Auxerre till the end of the season, just as I suspected. This signing will definitely bring mixed receptions, and I’ll keep you updated as things unfold.

Lemme feast your appetite with a YouTube compilation of the bloke

Sayonara.

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Arsenal Enquires About Jackson Martinez and the Return of the Ox

Wanted: Arsenal have made an approach for Porto striker Jackson Martinez (above)

With Theo Walcott missing the remainder of the campaign and the Gunners sweating over the fitness of Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner, Lukas Podolski seems like the likeliest candidate to hold the fort till either Giroud or Bendtner return to full fitness. The German Machine has had a couple of appearances as the center forward but he hasn’t fully convinced Arsenal fans that he has what it takes to play that role. He’s better suited to his left wing role where he’s most effective.

With this in mind, Arsene Wenger knows that he has to delve into the transfer market to bring a center forward that would share the burden with Giroud because in as much as Nicklas Bendtner has done well to work his way back to the hearts of the fans, he has not signed a new deal and he has just six months left on his contract, which means that he can still be approached by any club.

Arsenal was heavily linked with Atletico Madrid’s hot-shot, Diego Costa, and according to the Mirror, the club’s hierarchy has released a statement notifying the predators of European football that their prized asset isn’t going anywhere in January. The Gunners have also set their sights on the young Real Madrid protege, Alvaro Morata, and the Mail reports that the Gunners are hoping to complete a short-term loan deal for the forward this transfer window.

With Morata on the fringes at Real Madrid, he would be hoping for the deal to come to fruition but the Mail has also reported that Arsenal are making enquiries for FC Porto’s Colombian forward, Jackson Martinez, if talks between the club and Real Madrid over Morata breaks down.

Jackson Martinez joined FC Porto last season and caught the eye scoring 34 goals in 43 games, with 26 goals in 30 league games as well as a couple of goals in the club’s Champions League campaign before they were ousted by Malaga in the first knockout round. This season, Jackson has been firing on all cylinders and according to WhoScored, he has netted 12 goals in 14 Liga Sagres matches.

On the international scene, Martinez along with the legendary Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez played key roles in Colombia’s qualification to the World Cup. Falcao’s exploits in Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco has proven that goalscorers from the Portuguese League can be very prolific and from the few games I’ve watched Jackson Martinez play, I believe he’s the real deal.

I’ll keep you updated as more news unfolds.

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The loss of a key player like Walcott is a very heavy blow to Arsenal but there are so many players that can put in good shifts in his absence. This season, the Englishman has had some spells on the sidelines with an abdominal problem and in the course of his recuperation, Arsene Wenger has used Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Serge Gnabry to devastating effect in some games and ineffectual performances in others.

However, Theo Walcott’s “heir apparent”, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fully fit again and he has returned to training after suffering an injury on the first game of the season. The Ox faced a lengthy lay-off after he suffered some ligament damage on his knee following a rash tackle from Aston Villa’s Antonio Luna and he was seen with clutches after the game.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Suffered a knee injury

The Ox has been out for over four months, so it will take a long while before he gets back to the level of fitness required to hit top gear. A couple of Under-21 games should be on the cards for the English speedster and it would be heartwarming seeing the youngster on the pitch after an eternity out.

Since breaking out of the scene in 2011, the Ox has notched up 60 appearances for the Gunners, scoring six goals. He’s used more as an impact substitute but his finest hour in an Arsenal jersey came in the Champions League win against AC Milan at the Emirates where he was in scintillating form.

The lad is happy to be back in contention and he’s hoping to be part of Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad that would be on a plane to Brazil this summer,

“As a young guy growing up watching football and watching World Cups, this will be my first one [that I can play in]. Obviously I went to the Euros, which was an amazing experience – and that’s a massive achievement for me personally, especially as an 18-year-old boy. That was really special.

“But the World Cup is always that little bit more special because it’s the world stage. If I was able to be selected and go to Brazil it would be a dream come true and something that I’m definitely striving towards.

“Although for now I’m just focused on getting back in and around the Arsenal team and helping us do well this season. But as you mentioned, [going to] the World Cup is definitely something I would like to achieve.”

Going to the World Cup at the age of 20 would definitely be an awesome experience for the Ox but we as Arsenal fans would him to put his head and focus on his club. He should remember that it’s his performances at club level that would determine if he deserves a place or not.

The official website published a gallery of pictures showing the Ox training with the rest of the lad. Worth a peek.

Sayonara.

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Transfer Rumors: Thoughts on Arsenal’s Link with Alvaro Morata

Arsenal is a team with good depth in midfield and some positions in defense but the team is surprisingly short of options in attack. The team has hinged all their hopes on Olivier Giroud and he hasn’t done too badly with a return of 11 goals thus far. There was also some bad blood between the team and Nicklas Bendtner after his proposed move to Crystal Palace was blocked but the Great Dane is working his way back to the team and he has been appreciated for his contributions.

There was the massive threat Theo Walcott posed as he was in a rich vein of form, scoring five goals in five league games. In the North London Derby, Walcott played as a center forward and did very well on the night before that ill-fated moment where he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament on his knee, and he’s going to be out for six months.

The support for the winger has been tremendous and his teammate, Carl Jenkinson, believes that he’ll come back stronger than ever. Arsenal can actually cope with the loss of Walcott because of the vast array of talent available at Arsene Wenger’s disposal. Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere have put good shifts on the right and the gaffer can also field Walcott’s direct replacements in the forms of Serge Gnabry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

There is also the option of buying a forward from the January Transfer Window but teams are on alert as Atletico Madrid have ruled out the sales of Diego Costa and Koke this transfer window, via the Mirror. They are battling hard with Barcelona for the Liga BBVA title and are not willing to lose their prized assets anytime soon.

The Daily Mail has reported that the Gunners are hastening their efforts to capture Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata on loan. It is believed that the Gunners have long-term targets in the summer but getting a player like Morata on the interim will serve as a temporary mitigation plan.

Loan target: Arsenal are keen on a short-term deal for the Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata, seen here after scoring against Levante back in October

The player rose to prominence following a series of impressive performances on youth level at the international scene. He was part of the Spanish Under-17 team that played in the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria. Morata scored a couple of goals that helped his team go all the way to the semis, before they were thrashed 3-0 by the hosts, Nigeria (I watched the game live at the Teslim Balogun Stadium. Stanley Okoro was on fire). Spain won the third-placed match to return with the bronze medal.

Two years after, Morata was involved in the Spanish Under-19 team that won the 2011 UEFA Under-19 European Championship, and he won the Golden Boot after scoring six goals. Morata’s rise in the Spanish youth ranks continued as he was part of the Spanish Under-21 squad that won last year’s UEFA Under-21 European Championships in Israel. He was also the top goal scorer.

He hasn’t been capped at the senior level but his time will definitely come.

At Real Madrid, Morata began his career in Real Madrid Castilla and he has notched up a couple of appearances for the first team but even after the sale of Gonzalo Higuain which made Karim Benzema the alpha-dog in the team’s attack, the emergence of Jese Rodriguez has further diminished his chances of playing first-team football. Morata has only started one game this season with his other nine appearances coming from the sub’s bench.

The prospect of playing regular football again will be appealing to Morata and his chances at Arsenal will be aided with the fact that Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner aren’t available for selection at the moment. He’s a tall lad that can be a force to be reckoned with in the air and with the creativity in Arsenal’s midfield, he’d get his fair share of goalscoring opportunities.

Morata is a highly-rated youngster that has excelled at youth level and Arsenal can give him the platform to develop his career with the opportunities Wenger always give to youngsters at the top level. He’s good in the air and at holding up the ball, with clinical finishing ability and excellent movement, Morata drew comparisons to legendary Real Madrid and Spain player Fernando Morientes due to his style.

The question is – will he be willing to take a punt of having a six-month spell in the Premier League, or is it really fun hanging out on the bench on a regular basis?

I’ll keep you updated as things unfold.

Sayonara.

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