First up on the agenda this morning is that Arsene Wenger has not denied that he is interested in David Villa according to John Cross…
‘Any interest we have in a player has to be kept secret at the moment.’
He has kind of shirked interest in Demba Ba…
‘I like Demba Ba, yes. Not the right place to speak about him. If you ask me ‘do we sign him?’ I say no.”
… and he’s kind of binned off Thierry Henry
‘Ive not lost interest in him. I’ve not ruled it out completely, but not spoken about it.’ (today)
‘I do not think it would be good for him [Thierry Henry] to play with us again,’
‘He should relax and prepare for the next MLS season.’
So what do we make of the movements in stance here?
Well, firstly, I’d like to take on the Theirry Henry story. He’s gone from a media exclusive for about 6 newspapers, to kind of being fobbed off in quite a negative way. ‘He should relax and prepare for the next MLS season’? That’s kind of like telling your wife she should relax and go and cook up a turkey soup.
My thoughts on this one are that Thierry has been punished for meeting Alisher Usmanov for dinner. I don’t understand why the manager would go from being super keen to not interested otherwise? I mean, even if you’ve got Theirry as third choice (assuming we’ll be bringing in one more), it’s still double the options we have right now. A few weeks ago the papers were talking about him coming here for the rest of the season. Now, nothing? I’m not overly bothered. Thierry left us in a hole a few years ago, these returns are mostly about his ego and Wenger’s prudence… which blocks a permanent signing.
David Villa hasn’t been ruled out. I remember him being quoted as interested in joining Arsenal before he left Valencia all those years ago. So he does have an affinity with the club somewhere along the way. The media re reporting we’ve lodged a £16million bid for the Spaniard. I can’t see this happening. The only way I can see Villa coming in is if Barca give him away for £8million or we nab him on loan. Can you really see Arsenal lumping out 66% of the Robin fee on a player who has just come back from a serious knee injury… who boasts 2 extra years on his passport?
Not that the money fusses me. More the fact of life that concerns over thirties… they never come back fitter.
The Demba Ba quote is also intriguing. If the manager likes him, and who wouldn’t with that goal record. Why wouldn’t he lodge a bid? £7.5million is a 1998 price for a man who has delivered at his last three clubs. On the open market, he’d be going for at least £18million. He’s Premiership ready, loaded full of the attributes we don’t currently have… and he speaks French.
The only problem he has? He’s too damn obvious.
In other, more fantastical news, Abou Diaby is returning to training next week. What a laugh. After months out of action, he conveniently returns during the month in which we could try and replace him. He’ll come back, Wenger can trot out the line ‘he’s like a new signing’, we’ll get to Jan 30th, then he’ll break down.
The sad thing about this Arsenal set up is that Diaby is EXACTLY the player we need to kick on to great things. If we had him fit all season, I’ve no doubt we’d be at least ten points better off. His ability to take on players through the middle would eliminate the problem we’ve faced with the man marking of our central midfielders. His physicality and pace when he’s on form is almost unplayable. He is the player who could take us to new, less predictable heights. However, the time has come to face facts. He’s never going to be fit for long enough. Wenger needs to replace him. No… he needs to give him competition. We can keep him, but we need to have someone level pegging him for ability so we don’t disintegrate when he’s out for 80% of the season.
Cabaye and Fellaini are the players I’d nominate in that role. The Belgian for me is one of the stars of the league, he has been for a few seasons. If there was ever a player I’d break the bank for, it’s this guy. Totally unplayable on his day. Aggressive skilful and with an eye for goal. He’d be perfect for us. I’ve been told by people who’ve met with Wenger that the manager loves him… so why haven’t we gone in for him? Because they want £30million.
Here is where you need a strong independent voice in the corporate team to insist we make the purchase, or at least put together a case for that happening. That doesn’t have to be David Dein. That can be anyone who knows the economics of how a football club runs. Someone who isn’t mindful of a profit related bonus, someone who has come from the corporate world, or even the football world and just loves the club and the game. Someone who realises big sponsors love to work with big names. Fellaini has all the attributes to be a big name.
Can I see that happening in January? Not a chance…
We should at the very least be bullying debt saddle Spanish and Italian clubs into releasing their players. What happened to M’Vila? Did he just suddenly become a bad player or could we put together a low cost rescue plan for a player Nike deemed good enough to star in their World Cup ad last year?
Finally, rumbling around Zaha continue to gather pace… I was with a Palace fan the other day, he reckons he’s a much better prospect than Chelsea starter Moses was. That’s promising. I like Moses. If Zaha does come in, cheerio Theo Walcott…