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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.

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.

****

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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Transfer Rumors: Thoughts on Arsenal’s Latest Target, Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov (AAP)

At the halfway point of the season, Arsene Wenger and his team can look back on what has been a good campaign thus far with so many challenges ahead. The team was ousted early in the Capital One Cup but there’s an FA Cup battle with the old enemy to contend with tomorrow. The Champions League double date against the defending champions, Bayern Munich, is still weeks away and the Gunners are currently at the summit of the Premier League.

However, these achievements so far can be attributed to the hard work of the players as they have given their all for the team in their respective positions but the fans still believe that there’s still room for improvement in some positions, with much focus on the striking personnel as the club is ridiculously short in that playing position.

Olivier Giroud has been a name on the first team sheet week in week out but while the fans appreciate his amazing work rate upfront and superb linkup play with his teammates, he has been found wanting in doing what he is actually paid to do – scoring on a consistent basis.

11 goals in his many games isn’t actually a bad return from the French forward but the problem remains that Arsenal can’t really look beyond him when the chips are down. Nicklas Bendtner has had his off the pitch shenanigans with the club and it seemed as if he had one foot away from the Emirates but his goal was vital in Arsenal’s most recent win against Cardiff but he got injured afterwards. Lukas Podolski is a better finisher than Giroud but he’s no center forward and of course, Yaya Sanogo is somewhere in a rehab center with Abou Diaby.

This is where a player like Dimitar Berbatov steps in. The rumors are endless during this transfer window and the media Vultures have wasted no time with linking Arsenal with the Bulgarian forward. According to ESPN, the player has told his agent that he wants to leave Fulham in January, as he’s faced with the ignominy of relegation this season.

Arsenal has been linked with many forwards this season – Stevan Jovetic, Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Fernando Llorente, Alvaro Morata, Diego Costa but c’mon, Dimitar Berbatov?

The 32-year-old Bulgarian’s career began a long while ago in his native CSKA Sofia before making a move to Bayer Leverkusen in 2000. Berbatov was part of that famous Bayer 04 Leverkusen squad alongside Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto, Carsten Ramelow, Hans-Jorg Butt and Bernd Schneider that went all the way to the Champions League final before losing to Real Madrid and the excellent Zinedine Zidane.

After scoring 50 goals in his last two seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, Berbatov switched to the Premier League to play for Aersenal’s fierce rivals, Tottenham, and he managed to score 46 goals in two seasons earning him a legendary status at the club. Berbatov wasn’t just known for his goals in Tottenham. He oozed class in every game he played and I was in the opinion that his first touch was so immaculate that he could actually control a ball launched from orbit.

Dimitar Berbatov

Following some flirtations with Manchester United, Berbatov was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford and it finally came to pass in 2008 but it cost the club a whooping £30.75 million. Despite notching up a couple of goals and assists in his debut campaign, the Old Trafford faithful criticized the Bulgarian for being “too lazy”.

The exits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez paved the way for Berbatov to gain a stronghold in the first team and he won the Golden Boot in the 2010/11 campaign but he lost his place to an upcoming starlet from Mexico, Chicharito.

Special reserve: Berbatov spent much of his United career on the bench - at best

After spending a lot of manhours on Manchester United’s bench, he called time on his Old Trafford career to rejoin his mentor, Martin Jol, at Fulham. Berbatov found a new lease of life with the Cottagers, scoring 15 goals in 33 Premier League appearances last season, endearing him to the Fulham fans.

This season, Berbatov has scored five goals in 16 appearances and he has witnessed the club fall apart, which ultimately cost Jol his job. The new manager, Rene Meulensteen, has tried to steady the ship since his arrival and even though Berbatov scored the match winner against West Ham last weekend, he’s hoping to make a move to one big European side before calling time on what has been an illustrious career.

Fulham is a club trying their best to fight their way out of relegation and Berbatov is an indispensable player to them but with the player hell-bent on leaving, will Arsenal be a suitable destination?

I’m in awe of Berbatov’s control, technical ability, high football IQ, precision and composure but his flaws as a player will be a real problem for me. First of all, Berbatov is a very lazy footballer and his work rate is really poor. He also lacks pace to get on the end of some passes and in my opinion, he’d slow Arsenal’s game to his level, which would be detrimental to how the club plays it’s football.

However, he can serve as a short-term fix and as an alternative striker to Giroud but as the saying goes,

Arsene Knows Best.

Sayonara.

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Statistical Review of Arsenal’s Transfer Target: Diego Costa

Hi-res-456888819-diego-costa-of-club-atletico-de-madrid-celebrates-after_crop_north

One of the most feared strikers in Europe this season

In as much as I’m a thoroughbred fan of Arsenal Football Club, Atletico Madrid is one team I really admire on the world stage. The club has had it’s fair share of success in the Europa League and Spanish Copa del Rey in recent times, but the club is renowned for one key feature down the years – possessing a lethal striker, selling him off and replacing him with another striker outstanding quality.

From 2001 to 2007, the club had a certain young Fernando Torres coming and he was labeled as the next best thing in Spanish football but when he was poached by Liverpool, the funds were invested in Sergio Aguero from Independiente and Diego Forlan from Villarreal.

Both players endeared themselves to the Atletico fans but they both departed in 2011, and just when the fans thought that the goals weren’t going to come on a consistent basis, Radamel Falcao appeared out of the blue and blasted in 70 goals in 91 appearances. When a goalscoring poacher like Falcao left for the greens at AS Monaco, the club swooped for a renowned poacher like David Villa but another player has stepped up the plate for the Spanish giants this season.

Diego Costa arrived in Atletico in 2010 after several loan spells with his parent club, SC Braga. Arriving as nothing but a back up to Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan, the games were hard to come by for the Brazilian but an injury to Aguero in September 2010 paved the way for Costa to get a couple of games under his belt and he managed to score eight goals in his debut campaign for his club.

Diego Costa suffered a major knee injury in his second season with the club and upon his return in the winter, he was loaned out to Rayo Vallecano where he showed a prolific run of goalscoring form scoring nine goals in 16 games. Last season, Diego Costa played the entire campaign as Atletico’s leading striker (following the exits of Forlan and Aguero in the 2011/12 season) and in his first full season with the club, he scored 20 goals in 44 appearances.

The acquisition of David Villa this season was meant to put a dent in Diego Costa’s progress but he has stepped up to become the alpha-dog in Atletico’s attack. Listed below are his key stats this season (via WhoScored) in the Liga BBVA and UEFA Champions League.

 

Liga BBVA

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

15 (1)

3

Goals

17

4

Assists

1

1

Total Shots (Shots per Game)

52 (3.3)

13 (4.3)

Total Key Passes (Key Passes per Game)

26 (1.6)

3 (1)

Total Successful Dribbles (Dribbles per Game)

22 (1.4)

9 (3)

Total Offsides (Offsides per Game)

15 (0.9)

-

Total Passes Attempted (Accurate Passes)

395 (307)

78 (59)

Pass Completion Percentage

77.7%

75.6%

Diego Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo are the joint top scorers in the Liga BBVA with 17 goals each. A certain Luis Suarez in England has the same amount of goals but he has played lesser League games than both leading forwards in the Liga BBVA. Diego Costa’s confidence in front of goal is really amazing and in just 16 Liga BBVA games, he has attempted 52 shots with 17 finding the back of the net.

His stats also show that he’s never afraid to take on an opponent in an attempt to dribble him but he averages at least one offside per game, which isn’t half bad. His passing stats aren’t too great in the League and Europe but he can be forgiven because he does his primary job for his team which is scoring goals.

It’s now time to compare Diego Costa’s stats (League only) with Arsenal’s leading striker, Olivier Giroud.

 

Diego Costa

Olivier Giroud

League Appearances (subs)

15 (1)

15

Goals

17

7

Assists

1

4

Total Shots (Shots per Game)

52 (3.3)

55 (3.7)

Total Key Passes (Key Passes per Game)

26 (1.6)

20 (1.3)

Total Successful Dribbles (Dribbles per Game)

22 (1.4)

10 (0.7)

Total Offsides (Offsides per Game)

15 (0.9)

18 (1.2)

Total Passes Attempted (Accurate Passes)

395 (307)

475 (317)

Pass Completion Percentage

77.7%

66.7%

Giroud has played almost an equal amount of League games with Diego Costa but the Brazilian is better off with 10 goals more. Giroud actually attempts more shots per game than Diego Costa but his shooting accuracy is quite questionable. Giroud gets caught offside more than his Brazilian counterpart and for his passing stats, be the judge of that.

Arsenal has been heavily linked with a move for Diego Costa in the January transfer window (via Mail Online) and it is also believed that he has a release clause of £32 million. He’s currently being watched by Arsenal’s scouting staff and I’d expect them to come back to North London with positive reviews of their transfer target.

However, it seems really impossible for the Spanish club to let their prized asset depart in January as he’s very instrumental to their plans this season. Unlike previous campaigns where Atletico settled for just qualifying for the Champions League, they are currently challenging for the title with Barcelona and they recently qualified to the Round of 16 in the Champions League, and have engaged themselves in a double date with AC Milan.

He has also been involved in an international tussle between Spain and Brazil and it seems likely that he’d represent the defending world champions in the forthcoming World Cup. With the Brazilian pledging his allegiance to a nation where he currently plies his trade, I don’t see him leaving to go abroad when he has become a vital part of the club’s plans.

Well, Atletico shared the same thoughts about Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan and Falcao but we all know that they are currently not wearing the red and white stripes of the Madrid-based outfit.

This just goes to say that it’s all about the money and if Arsenal really wants Diego Costa, they can go all Ozil on him. I’m sure you get my drift.

Sayonara.

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