Time is Running Out

By on August 22, 2008
Arsene to put some English on it?

Arsene to put some English on it?

With only about 9 days left in Silly Season, time is quickly running out for Arsene Wenger to complete his signing of the seemingly elusive “extra body” in the middle.  After the quick and shocking signing of Manchester United defender Silvestre this week, Arsene was quick to address concerns that this would be our final signing of the summer. Regardless of the signing of Silvestre and the return of Cameroon midfielder Alex Song, Arsene did make it fairly clear he is still looking to add a foil for Fabregas.  The only question that remains is who Cesc’s new partner will be.  And as the pages continue to fly off the calendar, there appear to be a few front-runners in this metaphorical race.

Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry has once again been linked to a move to the Emirates following Arsene Wenger’s admission that Barry is a player that interests him.  However, this morning Villa boss Martin O’Neill refuted many of the media claims that Barry may by on his way to North London, confirming that the Gunners are yet to make any sort of contact regarding Barry.   It certainly would be another shocker if the Boss were to pull off this move, considering Barry seemed to forever be on the move up north to Anfield.  With his Premier League and international experience, Barry could prove to be the ideal target for Le Boss.  His age and maturity would certainly go long way to add some more experience to the squad and his passing range and defensive nature could prove to be the perfect platform for Fabregas to launch further up field.  More importantly for Wenger might be the fact that he has been cup tied for the group stages of the Champions League since he started in Villa’s 4-1 victory over FH Hafnarfjordur in the UEFA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round.  This would certainly mean a reduced price for the player, who previously seemed valued much too high for any sort of serious interest from Arsenal.  Combine this with the fact that Barry would be eligible to pay in knock out stages of the Champions League and Barry might just find himself at the top of Arsene’s list.  However it is likely that Wenger will wait until the groups for the Champions League are announced on 28th of August before making any decision regarding the semi cup tied Barry.

Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso has found himself once again at the center of speculation after being linked with a move to Arsenal.  Wenger’s admission that he would not rule out cup-tied players seems to have put this one back in the limelight, with some reports even emerging that Arsenal had had a £10 million offer rejected by Liverpool.  The likelihood of this transfer seems to shift from day to day.  The Spanish connection between Fabregas and Alonso could prove to be a stroke of genius, however, Xabi doesn’t seem to have the sort of physical presence that Arsenal need right now.  Furthermore, unlike Barry, Alonso would be cup-tied for the entire Champions League after making an appearance in Liverpool’s 3rd Round Qualifier in Belgium.  This could prove to be a major roadblock in any sort of move south for Alonso.  This combined with the fact that his purchase could indeed fund Liverpool’s acquisition of Gareth Barry seems to make this move highly unlikely, despite reports to the contrary.

Gökhan Inler is another name that has continued to be thrown around as Arsenal’s solution to the gaping hole in our midfield.  Reports first emerged linking the player with a move to London as his agent said that he had talks with Wenger and Wenger him self even identified Inler in a press conference (noting that he wasn’t sure if the signing would be “The Swiss Boy”).  Reports linking Inler with a move from Italy seemed to have died down over the last several days but reports of Wenger’s attendance at the Swiss friendly match seemed to have amped the rumors back up.  Inler does seem like the perfect candidate. At about 6′ he offers a physical presence in the midfield.  His no-nonsense attitude could go a long way to adding some needed steel to the middle of the park which seems to be missing in Diaby and Denilson.  Combine these with his lower price tag and release clause and he appears to be a perfect Wenger buy.  However, his age could be an issue as signing a new central midfielder of 24 could hinder the growth of some of the younger prospect already at the club, a problem that Wenger mused over early in the summer.

Nine days to go and Arsenal still have some work to do in the transfer market.  If Arsenal is to be serious title contenders this season, the defensive midfielder is a position that mustn’t be taken lightly.  I have every faith that the manager will deliver and it appears that it is likely to be one of these three players.  However, as Wenger has said himself and as we all know, sometimes he can surprise us.  Only time will tell who we draft in the solve our defensive midfielder woes, but we can be sure that whoever it is, it will be a player the Boss feels has not only the technique but intelligence to fit into the squad.