Will Arsenal’s Transfer Activity Be Completed On January 1st?
That the return of a 34 year old player causes so much publicity is indicative of the state of the Premier League. The paucity of genuinely charismatic players is summed up by the League leaders, Manchester City; an expensively assembled production line team, devoid of personality and charm. Comparable to the car industry as technology moved in during the 1970s? Perhaps, the odd manual factory survived but mostly the automatons took over and revealed themselves to be creators of everything practical without any character. Their saviour came in reliability.
The signing of Thierry Henry on loan is being negotiated – probably completed by the time you read this – remarkable for perhaps being the first time ever that “Sky Sports News understands” precedes a truthful transfer tale, rather than the utter tosh that normally follows. The media agree Henry’s match fitness is being addressed by a intensified training schedule but some believe it will Leeds in the FA Cup earmarked for his return whilst others are pinning their ailing circulations on it being Fulham.
Henry’s return is of course, the cue for the Chamakh to leave ‘next month’ stories and ones that see the Arsenal squad augmented by Lukasz Podolski. The former will indeed be leaving Arsenal. Via Terminal 5 at Heathrow to play in the African Cup of Nations. He will then return to Arsenal in February. The latter will not be joining unless the club shop can get a new supply of z’s for the printing of names on shirts.
This might be the only activity undertaken by Arsenal. Priorities, it seems, were back-up for Robin van Persie with a full back. The recoveries of Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs from injuries – on target for the end of January – seem to have put doubts in the manager’s mind about the necessity for a new defender to be signed.
Speaking on Arsenal Player, Wenger revealed his dilemma,
At the moment it is very difficult because we have players out who are short to come back. There are difficult decisions to make because we are short in the full-back positions. But you think, ‘do you really want to buy a full back for three or four years?
When you have four out and two close to coming back. I think no, because we have people who can do the job during this period.
It is understandable that he is reluctant to invest in players when he clearly has faith in those already at the club. In Sagna’s case, he has a reliable right back who is consistent in performance and fitness. Jenkinson has promise as a deputy; the right hand side seems in decent shape. Yet that was never in doubt; it is left back that is taxing minds. Santos is adapting well but is out until March according to the last reports and Gibbs, is well, Gibbs.
He has an unreliable track record of injuries, since 15th April 2009 he has eleven reported absences. Some are impact but a lot signal a young man who is putting physical pressure onto his body. That underlines why Wenger invested in Santos; it underlines the risk the manager is taking by not even taking a loan signing in. The problem is that finding a ‘homegrown’ player with the necessary credentials is hard, if not impossible, for a loan spell which is all the basic requirement is. When he has Thomas Vermaelen who is adept at the full back position, is replacing his injured specialist left backs a high priority? Judging by his comments, no. Whether he is right or not, time will tell.
Talking of loans, Stephen Hunt’s whinging has done Mick McCarthy no favours with Emmanuel Frimpong seemingly heading to Villa Park on loan this January. Either that or Frimpong is not quite the Karl Henry clone that McCarthy wants; who would have thought that passing a football could have been such a saving grace?