Coming into every transfer window, our squad is analysed, and a position on the field is pinpointed as “The Weakness”. From that moment on, every player who can fill that role is tipped as a potential signing, with no attention paid to the player’s current allegiances, squad role, or value. Or even if he is any good.
Over the past couple of years, the focus has been on the midfield holding role. Every defensive midfielder in the world seems to have been linked at some point, with extra column inches afforded if he can also fill in at the back. The emergence of Alex Song has at least silenced those particular voices, with the exception of those still flogging the Yaya Toure angle.
For a while since, it seemed as if strikers would be top of the media list. Van Persie’s injury left us without a recognised target man for long stretches, and with Eduardo’s alarming loss of form, everyone was clamouring to link us with Europe’s top names.
But then Bendtner started scoring, the Chamakh transfer became old news, and people moved on.
Or rather, they moved back, all the way to our number one jersey, previously ignored due to our perceived strength in depth – Mannone and Szczesny showing promise and Fabianski still a much vaunted prospect. With Almunia dropping clangers left, right and centre, Fabianski came in, contrived to make the Spaniard seem a better option, and suddenly we were in disarray.
Since then, there have been calls to sign pretty much any keeper able to pull on a pair of gloves. The old names of Frey and Buffon have come up, laughably, while closer to home many see better options in the Premiership.
One name has come up time and time again – Lyon’s Hugo Lloris. Tim at 7am Kickoff gave a comprehensive explanation of exactly why the Frenchman won’t be arriving – it is a classic example of wishing a player was ours who never could be. It is a fanciful idea to imagine us paying the ridiculous price Lyon would demand – they don’t need the money.
The same is true of Igor Akinfeev, whose name keeps cropping up largely because he is a monster in Football Manager. He would cost a fortune this summer – CSKA Moscow are heavily bankrolled, and at 23 Akinfeev is already their club captain. His contract runs out in December 2011, making him a more likely mover next summer, if at all.
Then there is Joe Hart. His passport alone hikes up his price, although he is certainly a promising young keeper. Butis he overhyped? Imagine if Vito Mannone was English – would we have heard the last of his Fulham display? I’m not doubting Hart’s potential, but that is what it is – potential. Is he ready to be a number one at a top club? I’m not convinced.
The ball is firmly in Wenger’s court, but the good news is that he is planning to make his moves early, or at least he will for any player featuring in the World Cup. Four years ago he signed Rosicky at a cut price before he single-handedly destroyed USA in the Czech Rep’s opening match – had Wenger waited he would surely have been forced to raise his offer.
The World Cup is a blessing and a curse – on the one hand it stops the papers being filled with ridiculous transfer stories,but on the flip side individuals get massively overhyped based on a performance or two. Remember El Hadji Diouf for Senegal? Or Karel Poborsky? It even happens at junior level – after one Under 21 tournament the whole world was interested in Royston Drenthe. Real Madrid bit the bullet, and he’s barely been heard of since.
In July and August, prepare yourself for a deluge of stories linking us to some Algerian keeper who makes a couple of decent stops against England.
In other news, Sol Campbell seems interested in signing for another year, but hasn’t yet sat down with Wenger to discuss an extension:
“I think the boss will want to sit down and have a chat and we’ll go from there. I’m really enjoying my football. I’m working hard and the fitness coaches, along with all the staff, have done wonders for me here. “
“Being in an environment of this quality is perfect for me to play football, work hard and keep on going. It’s fantastic to be here.”
I don’t think you’d find too many opposed to another year, but I suspect Wenger is waiting for Gallas to make his move before putting the deal on the table.
And that’s about it for today. This should be the last Wednesday for a while without a podcast, which is still planned for launch next week, so stay tuned for that.