It is that time of year again, when players begin to start talking about moves, the papers examine which big players are at struggling clubs, and try to piece it all together into the latest back page headline.
With our season effectively over bar the shouting, this process has already begun, with Valencia’s David Villa expressing his interest in switching to the Emirates:
“I watch the Premier League a lot and the team I’m most attracted to is definitely Arsenal. The Valencia president (Agustin Morera) always told me he wouldn’t sell me until summer 2008. If an offer comes in I’m hungry to test myself in England.”
Villa is one of a number of top players expected to move this summer, and with Valencia having such a poor season (they are currently two places from the drop zone in La Liga), he has become a big fish in an increasingly small pond. He is a real talent, and would be a superb signing, but somehow I just don’t see it happening, for two reasons:
1) Unless a striker is sold, I would be very surprised to see another one get signed this summer. Like last season, when fans were baying for new blood up front, I can see Wenger trusting what he has, which is a starting pair of Van Persie and Adebayor, with Bendtner and Walcott playing a greater part. Eduardo is scheduled to return in the New Year, and Wenger may expect the other four to cope in the meantime. Signing a striker now would push at least one of these players back, whether it is Walcott to the wing, or Bendtner out of the club altogether (which isn’t impossible).
2) Chelsea have expressed interest in Villa before, and are likely to again. It feels like Malouda from last summer, who said similar things about wanting to join Arsenal, making his signing seem imminent, but Chelsea simply offered a fee that Wenger was never going to consider value for money, and off he went to Stamford Bridge. Even if Wenger is interested in Villa, he probably has a figure in mind and won’t double it when Chelsea do.
No, signing well known players is difficult with Chelsea forcing the hand of the selling club. But at least we should know early this summer – with a tournament going on Wenger is likely to make his moves before it starts and the player’s value rises, as he did with Rosicky two years ago.
If Villa signed, I for one would be delighted.
But I would also be surprised.