January Transfer Targets for Arsene to consider
Arsene Wenger and the transfer market is a topic upon which virtually every football fan in the UK has a detailed and strongly held opinion. You don’t even have to support Arsenal to care either, since the fascination of the situation rests upon what are either Wenger’s principles (‘I’ll only sign fresh raw talent and mould it to play the Arsenal way’) or his stubbornness (‘Sign a proven striker? Where’s the challenge in that?’). It’s an opinion which is divided even amongst Gunners fans themselves, with some trusting Arsene to go out and unearth the next Thierry Henry we haven’t heard of yet, whilst others are still scanning the horizon hopefully, looking for a sign of that private jet carrying Karim Benzema.
For a while, it seemed as if Wenger was finally casting aside his straightjacket of parsimony, when he splashed out a combined £70million or so in successive seasons, signing creative midfielder Mesut Ozil and the attack minded Alexis Sanchez. That was followed, however, by the summer 2015 transfer window, during which Arsenal were the only team in the top 5 European leagues not to sign an outfield player. As the January window approaches, Arsenal fans aren’t, for once, howling for some of the alleged £200m transfer pot to be spent on someone who can salvage their season. Rather, they’re hoping for a signing or two that can add the finishing touches to a squad who are increasingly being regarded as genuine contenders for the title. These are five of my most likely names being mentioned….
Alexandre Lacazette – the reliance on Olivier Giroud as their main striker, and the fact that Theo Walcott has yet to fully convince as his deputy, means that Arsenal find themselves linked to strikers more than any other players. Lacazette is a case in point, having scored 27 goals for Ligue 1 side Lyon last season. He signed a new contract for them in the summer, but things have since taken a turn for the worse, with a public spat over the handling of his contract negotiations, a meagre return of one goal in eight games and jeering from his own supporters. All of which adds up to a player who may be open to a move to the premiership.
Daniele Rugani – the acquisition of Peter Cech has undoubtedly strengthened the Arsenal defence, but since it’s impossible to be too strong at the back, a move for Juventus’ Daniele Rugani can’t be ruled out. After two seasons impressing as part of a co-ownership deal with Italian club Empoli, the central defender was signed outright by Juventus, although he has yet to start a match this season. Juventus would be reluctant to sell but the International Under-21 star might be keen to secure regular first team football, with the rumoured fee being something in the region of £13m.
Sebastien Haller – admit it, you’ve never heard of him. That just might be one of the factors which make him the perfect Wenger signing. The 21 year old French striker emerged through the ranks at Auxerre, the same academy which produced Bacary Sagna, Abou Diaby and Yaya Sanogo. In physical terms he’s built as though made for the demands of the Premier League and his first season at FC Utrecht resulted in 11 goals in 17 games. Taken as a whole, the Eredivisie youngster might well represent the archetypal Wenger signing – one for the future, and not just the second half of this season.
Jese Rodriguez – the 22 year old Real Madrid striker is rumoured to be available for a fee in the region of £21.1m, and may well be open to a move. That’s because, at Madrid, he’s currently fourth in line behind Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, presumably asking himself the questions; which one is likely to hit a dip in form first, and how bad would it have to be for me to replace them? His hopes of making the Spain squad for 2016 Euro’s will rest upon securing regular first team football, and Arsenal currently look far more likely to offer that than Real.
Gonzalo Higuain – Arsenal seemed set to sign the 27 year old Argentinean striker in the summer of 2013, before Napoli swooped in with a big money offer. The stars may have since aligned in Arsenal’s favour, however. Napoli didn’t manage to reach the Champions League last season and manager Rafa Benitez exited for the Bernabeu, doubtless leaving Higuain wondering exactly where his club career is going.