Arsenal Facing A Complicated January Transfer Window

I think everyone, including Wenger, is aware that Arsenal need to bolster the squad in the upcoming transfer window. Few agree on the exact details but defence and striker appear to be two positions where most would want reinforcements. I was thinking about the possibilities while looking at the current squad and it seems like a very complicated situation for the Gunners.

To start with we need to keep the 25 player limit and the home-grown quota requirement in mind. Based on the details of that rule, I compiled the following table for the current squad.

The names in black font are players who are neither home-grown, nor U21. Arsenal already have the maximum possible 17 players under this quota. As a consequence, in order to accommodate any non-English experienced (above 21 years) player, Arsenal will have to leave someone from this list out.

Almunia and Squillaci seem like the obvious candidates for the drop. I can’t see anyone else being left out. I am not completely sure about Diaby’s status as a home-grown player but it’s likely that he doesn’t qualify.

In effect, if Arsenal have to sign a striker they will have to leave Almunia out. Squillaci can probably be replaced by a defensive signing. Although given the current state of injuries at the back, I am not sure leaving the Frenchman out is a wise choice.

There is also a concern over the fitness issues of Mannone and Fabianski so there might be an argument for having four goalkeepers in the squad. Of course “anyone but Almunia” remains the popular mantra so he should be the first to get the chop. There might be some rule for getting an emergency signing if all three goalkeepers are injured. I don’t have the details about that but other clubs have done something similar.

So it would be safe to say Arsenal can get one experienced player in at the expense of the hapless Spanish custodian. But for that to happen he will either have to go on loan, or be sold, or be left out of the list despite being on the club’s payroll. I strongly feel the Gunners should explore the first two options but if it doesn’t work out they should ruthlessly leave him out. I don’t hate the guy as some seem to do and will find such a move harsh but it is also inarguably necessary.

With that free spot Wenger can only bring one player in. That can be a striker, a winger, a midfielder, or a utility player. I will return to the possible choices a little later.

The other option for Arsenal is to sign a player to replace Squillaci or someone who can qualify as home-grown. Apart from the 17 “Foreign” players, each team can have 8 players above the age of 21 who are home-grown (trained at an English or Welsh club for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 21).

The players listed in the blue font currently fall under this category and the Gunners only have 5 such players. Those listed in Green can be included in the U-21 list for the current season and can play without being part of the squad of 25. Arsenal’s youth strength is obvious from that list but it’s worth noting that Ramsey and Szczesny will move past the 21 year limit next season so the squad will have to maintain some room for them.

In essence, the Gunners can safely buy one English (Welsh or foreigner trained in England) player and supplement the squad with up to two additional acquisitions to replace Almunia and Squillaci. There are other options like selling Arshavin and/or Chamakh but I think these will just complicate things further and in themselves will not be as easy to execute in January, particularly in a manner that would give Wenger the time to sign a replacement.

Arsene has to balance these equations with the short-term and long-term in mind. For instance, bringing someone like Henry on loan at the moment can work for a couple of months but will leave a hole in the squad for the rest of the season. Players like Park and Oxlade-Chamberlain might step up by that time or might not. It’s hard to guess.

Given the constraints, it’s also hard to visualize two players like Podolski and Henry being signed. Le Boss could go for the audacious and buy a prodigy like Eden Hazard (and loan him back for the rest of the year) for the next season to go with a short-term loan for the Arsenal legend.

Personally speaking, a striker is more important than a wide attacker. And in order to fit into the Arsenal style the striker would have to be comfortable with his back to the goal. There aren’t many who can do that. For instance, Podolski is a very good player – someone I have always seen as RvP Lite – but I am not sure he can play as a central striker in Wenger’s current tactical system.

Among the other names that I have read and are realistically possible, none is particularly exciting. It’s also important to remember the difference in the quality between various leagues across Europe. Lille were desperate to sign Ju-Young Park but he isn’t getting many games at Arsenal, not even making the bench for some. Gervinho was a lot more effective in France than he has been for the Gunners. So the likelihood of getting a top class striker who can make an immediate impact is very low even if many are hyped up in the relatively weaker leagues.

This makes the return of King Henry a very real possibility but again I am not sure he has the speed or the work-rate to contribute at this level consistently. Nonetheless, he could be a good player to have on the bench and for the cup-ties. This should relieve the burden on Van Persie to a great extent. Will Henry be able to accept a bit-part role is the bigger question. He cannot bring the attitude we saw in his last season – pointing at his feet and demanding the ball, angry glares at teammates – to the ground anymore. But all things considered, TH14 seems to be the best bet.

As an interesting side issue, what number would Henry take if he did return? I say 41 will be apt for a comeback.

Moving to other positions, I don’t see how Arsenal can sign a creative midfielder or winger to go with the striker without severely compromising the defence. That would explain the excuse that Wenger has given regarding the Gourcuff signing. He mentioned the return of Diaby and Wilshere but I don’t think that is the real argument. Suppose, just for the sake of argument, Fabregas wanted to come back this January – Do you think Arsene would have said I can’t sign him because our midfield would be too crowded? No way! So citing the returning players is just a ruse that Le Boss has used to deflect the issue. Sadly, many have taken his words literally, but I don’t blame him for not being forthright about such issues. Do you really expect him to say something like, “Well Gourcuff is returning from a long injury layoff and isn’t in top form, and we don’t have the space in the squad to accommodate a player who will need time to get back on track”?

As an extension of that, I don’t see a player like Goetze coming to Arsenal this January. Although it would still be interesting to see if Wenger bids for the young German. For a talent like that Le Boss might just decide it’s worth leaving the striker out. But it doesn’t seem realistic at this juncture.

That brings us to the defence and I include defensive midfield in that.

For close to two years I have held the opinion that the Arsenal squad needs at least one more versatile defensive player of very high quality. The current injury crisis has only strengthened this belief. Someone like Jan Vertonghen ticks a number of boxes as he can play LB, CB or even in midfield. But in order to secure the services of a foreign player, Arsenal will have to make space in the squad.

While removing Squillaci and adding a player like Vertonghen will certainly improve the quality of the squad, I am not convinced that will give Arsenal sufficient depth to cope with the hectic schedules ahead. Let’s not forget players returning from long layoffs are likely to suffer at least some niggling injuries on their way back. So even when the fullbacks return, it would be naive to assume they won’t face further fitness related problems.

The best way to solve this conundrum would be to add a home-grown defensive player to the squad. I am not a big fan of players like Cahill, Baines, Jagielka, and the likes but they can be useful squad members and Wenger has the ability to get more out of them. Essentially, Le Boss will have to find some value in the local market in defence or defensive midfield. Otherwise adding depth will be a tough ask. Arsenal might get lucky with injuries and manage with one or no acquisitions but the current league position is too precarious to take such a risk.

Part of this analysis has been under the assumption that Arsenal can either sell, loan, or leave out players like Almunia and Squillaci. I don’t know if the rules permit having a player on the payroll but leaving him out of the roster of 25. If they don’t, Arsenal will have to find new clubs for these players before making any signings.

The activities in the winter window will also affect Arsenal’s options in the summer but at that time Wenger will have more time and will be better placed to decide on the futures of players like Chamakh, Arshavin, and some others along with those who are currently on loan.

Apart from the aspects discussed thus far, certain basic factors will have to fall in place for any transfer to be completed – Wenger should rate the player highly enough to want him, the player must be interested in playing for Arsenal, his wage demands have to fit the Arsenal structure, and his club should be willing to do business at a price Arsenal can afford. Other issues like being cup-tied can also have an impact on any likely deal.

All-in-all this is clearly a complicated period for the Gunners and Wenger will have his task cut out. One can only hope Le Boss is more decisive than he was during the summer but it’s not hard to see his difficulties. These transfer issues are not as simple as sell X, Y, Z and buy A, B, C.  But I will be worried about the top four spot if Wenger cannot perform the right balancing act in January.

I started this post around midnight and haven’t been able to double check the details so apologies in advance for any errors.

62 Responses to Arsenal Facing A Complicated January Transfer Window

  1. lankylorde says:

    U r just a wonderful analyst!

  2. legolas LOVE Arsenal says:

    amazing analysis… i pay u the highest respect man.

  3. Scott says:

    It’s great to read a balanced,logical article.
    Keep them coming,and could you write for Le Grove,Just Arsenal,Arsenal Korner…….actually,all of them.

    • Alex says:

      Only demented bloggers qualify to write for LG.

      • richie says:

        Exactly why would Desi G lower himself to even lend one of his great thought provoking logical articles to any of the dross mentioned above?

    • gunner_expat says:

      seriously scott….I think you’re totally out of sync with most people who come here. In fact if we had a poll here about who religiously reads le-grove i think you’d be in the minority.

      insulting to dg and all other readers who value well thought, logical, RESEARCHED and thought provoking articles.

  4. Adeniji abdullahi,NIGERIA says:

    What a fantastic write-up,dis is wot u does best & its why i stay glued weneva i see any of ur work,thumb up bro.

  5. Arsenalite says:

    Brilliant just shows the job is so tough.Keep up the great work man.

  6. Naseerharun says:


    • cupsui says:

      ahh the intelligence of the fickle fans…such brilliant, in-depth and thought-out analysis. I wish i simply had enough hours in the day to think up such an insightful post

  7. GD says:

    Very Interesting post with lots of insight. Food for thought as we approach the transfer window!

  8. cupsui says:

    its an interesting conundrum desi…
    I too think Jan Vertonghen is the best (relatively) available option for defence, but i feel we have plenty of cover if he comes in and the squid is left out (he ain’t good enough). With Koz RB, Metre TV5 CB and Jan V LB, JD, miquel, le coq providing the cover and no less than 4fullbacks to come back we’ll be ok. Like arsene has said you can’t sign too many players just because of injury as the threat to team morale and harmony in games is too high. If there are further injuries we have to make do. Song is still a great CB and provides awesome cover there with pingpong or le coq stepping into his role. Even arteta, Jack (when he is back) and rambo/rosicky/diaby/benny is a quality midfield.
    Onto the striker…
    For me podolski is the main man required. He can play as a lone man, he has done so for club and a couple times for country. He is quality. BUT he can also play LW and that is where we are short in jan feb w/o gervinho. Arsharvin is just not cutting it as a starter anymore and we lose our directness w/ him in the team. Perhaps benny on the left or theo w/ the ox on the right. But podolski provides both striker and LW cover…he is proven too! So Alumnia goes…big woop…shea is probably as good as him anyway. I know i would rather see him in there and getting a go than someone who clearly has some issues with pressure!!
    I would not be dissappointed with the sale of Arsharvin, he has simply slipped too much and his lack of desire and head down attitude is only going to cause probs in the squad. Chamakh won’t go and nor he should. Although he has been a HUGE disappointment he still gives the require depth when it will be needed at the end of the season. Hopefully he scores a bagful at ANC…I say he’ll be off in the off-season.
    As for Goetze…I would love him but the dream is slipping by the day. If he doesn’t come in Jan the dream is over. For me he is a higher priority than Podolski. His signing would go hand in hand with a Henry loan as he is under 21. The other option is Marcos Rues (Goetze light) this guy is class and i would be stoked by his arrival. He can play LW, RW, CAM, and even striker and is tall fast and talented. Again under 21 and would be great with Henry loan…
    I hope big time for one of the later two options…
    Probs gonna be just Henry loan and the loan of an average fullback as a stop gap until the fullbacks return…at least if i think that i can only be surprised and not disappointed!!

    • desigunner says:

      Excellent point about Goetze and others being U21, I’d completely missed that. Podolski is an interesting option… I am not convinced but will go with Wenger’s choice on that one either way… He does bring good tactical understanding of the role on the left of the attack.

      I was hoping Arsenal can send someone like Frimpong on a loan but for that a new player will be needed to provide the depth… right now the youngster seems out of his depth when the intensity is high.

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      ‘some’ russian clubs might be interested in arshavin. I doubt wenger would do that tho..but we dont have much margin for error now. Honestly the wolves result has taken a bit of confidence out of me cause we had a very decent team on the pitch. In the past few years we have always dropped points when we had chances to cover ground and its a trend that has continued this year. We cannot afford to drop points in jan. If it means letting Arsha go then so be it. For the moment tho it looks like henry on loan is already a done deal so its interesting whats next on the cards

  9. kc says:

    This is a great post. Keep up the good work.

  10. Busayo says:

    u av won over my heart as the best arsenal analyst on newsnow.kudos!!! Kip d flag flyin.I av started followin u on twitter,pls follow back @busie93.million tanks

  11. olayinka says:

    arsenal shld sign a striker in jen transfer nd that player shld b podoski

  12. tonytone says:

    Great artical.
    What about bringing back some of the players who are out on loan ie Bartley at Rangers?
    And i can see the plus side of bringing back Henry but i always think its best to remember legends of how they use to be rather than as just an ordinary player.
    Keep up the good work!!!!!

  13. Youssef says:

    Finally someone who speaks with some logic. many arsenal fans just throw names and don’t analyze. You helped me to understand things and it’s clear in my head now.
    Thanks a lot and good work man !

  14. Odhis KenyanGunner says:

    Tell Wenger to buy me for right back (on a free transfer like Chamakh, just as he likes it). Why? Coz i sport a Sagna-sque hairstyle and gallop like Jenkinson on steroids. So Le Boss would have killed two birds with one stone. (P.S. : and I dont dive like Eboue!)

  15. peter says:

    thats realy good man keep it up.plis AW buy podoski,m’villa and vertegon.i wud also not mind having TH14 around

  16. Segun says:

    A textbook analysis.
    Great job and keep the good work up

  17. sam says:

    this verthongen dude is cup-tied for the champions league, kyle bartley is ready for the first team. if things get worse we will recall him.
    we have enough cover in defence. what we really need is a creative midfielder and a striker. people just want to see arsene spend big. i can’t believe you still want m’villa when you know arsenal already have song,coquelin and frimpong.
    even the left back position, vermaelen is there, miquel can play there, martin angha plus pedro botelho already completed his 4 years in spain.
    don’t get me wrong there will be some additions in january but what you are asking is not gonna happen. wenger is not going to spend big money. who knows maybe podolski is available for 8 millions.

  18. Brendan says:

    Brilliant stuff Desi – anything you publish is a “must read” article!

  19. karis says:

    Man c never gives a damn about the above technicalities and they are on top and always winning. just buy good players!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. bc says:

    Firstly u can leave players out of the.25 . secondly how about some home grown options as strikers andy johnson bobby zamora darren bent are all unhappy though only bent fits the bill for me and he is a gooner. bridge is also home grown and so is cahill. then there is players under 21 hazard and gotze are both u21.

    Squillaci has 18 months of a 60k a week deal left to run. that is 4.5m of anyones money without a transfer fee so cannot see him going anywhere. 60k a week just to train would u force a move? i see we are advertising for stewards i dont know why when we have all these highly paid players sitting around doing nothing just give em all an orange coat that will make them want to leave.

  21. Satz says:

    I really do not see a problem with the transfer window.If we want to clear out and maintain a quality squad we got to be bold with our decisions.

    Squillaci,Arshavin,Almunia,Fabianski,Chamakh are the players under the 17 players(neither home grown,nor U-21) who could be shipped out.

    Squillaci out with Vertonghen coming in.(Cannot see it happening with Kyle Bartley waiting in the wings for the seasons to come).

    Arshavin is still a game changer and one close effort past the top right corner against Wolves showed that he still has the magic in him but such magical moments are way too rare and he is just not in the right frame of mind .He needs to go.

    Almunia/Fabinaski – Both are good shot-stoppers but just not commanding enough.Either one of them can leave.

    Chamakh – Dont see him going in January but could be asked to leave based on his poor performances lately.

    Rosicky – He is interesting a lot of parties in Bundesliga and even Greek Champions want him.I would want him in the squad till the summer cause he does provide that creativity we need in the middle.Cashing on him wont be bad considering he could walk out on a free this summer.

    Diaby – Absolute nightmare.He spends more time in the treatment table than a doctor visiting the hospital.If he cannot stay fit for more than 10 to 15 games in the second half of the season he needs to go too.His leaving is basically for the summer.

    So the options here are that Squillaci,Arshavin,Almunia/Fabianski, could leave giving us 3 options.Chamakh,Rosicky,Diaby can leave the coming summer and even Benayoun’s loan spell ends giving us 4 options for the summer.

    Wenger has to sit down and work on everything before he dips into the transfer market but the fact is it aint that complicated if he is bold enough to make the necessary changes.Arsene is a top top coach and i am sure he will make the right moves.

    Wishing Arsenal and every gooner a superb few days(2011) and a fantastic new year(2012).Cheers!!

  22. Gooner says:

    Probably the only article in the Arsenal Blogosphere which grasps the intricacies and the complexities involved in the transfer window.

    Kudos, my man.

    AW would be proud.

    • Wrenny says:

      Well put. This is a fantastic analysis that doesn’t ignore all the difficulties associated with making player acquisitions, when so many bloggers treat it like it’s just a glorified shopping trip: stick the players in the basket and get to the checkout!

      I’m not convinced we can afford to discard either Almunia or Squillaci from the 25 man squad with the injuries we have in the GK and full back positions. However, that would restrict us to signing home-grown players and/or foreign players under the age of 21 so it’s a very difficult choice for Wenger. He will have to consider all the permutations carefully.

  23. Daudi says:

    Balanced psyche and write up fella, top marks for the effort also. Arsene signing any cover for our defensive mid/cb area of the field is a ‘No No’, I’m afraidI

    Surely we will have a LB on loan and a attacking MF with striking prowess that would greatly assist Van the Man in the business end of the season plus TH14/41 for couple of months won’t harm us at all- let him loose against the sp*rs and bring back the celebratory moments of Highbury to the Grove. COYG 🙂

    And, oh yes, door is wide open for Almunia, and Squillaci; I have still not given up on Arshavin – must hang on to him until end of season.

  24. tshidiso9 says:

    Fantastic blog. Can’t agree more

  25. Two Left Feet says:

    Fantastic article as always! From Arsene’s comments earlier in the season as well as his actions so far, it would seem that Almunia and Squillaci will be sold in the Jan window if we can get buyers for them. With injuries to Fabianski and Mannone however, I am no longer sure that Almunia will be allowed to leave. Other players who have ben rumoured to be on the chopping list include Chamakh, Arshavin and Rosicky but I can’t see them leaving – not in this window at any rate.

    A striker and a full-back seem the priority and Wenger has confirmed that. CB and midfield have been ruled out but you can never be sure until the window is over..after all Wenger had refused to buy a new LB after Clichy’s departure only to ship Traore and bring in Santos at the very last moment.

    Thus I would expect two departures and two new signings to be brought in during this transfer window. I can see the rationale for bringing in a full-back on loan although finding quality players who can fit-in right away will be difficult, especially mid-season and on loan! I’m not too keen on the Henry deal though, even if he still has his mojo. If you look at the relative firepower of the top 5-6 teams, Arsenal are certainly short up top and it isn’t due to injuries (like CM or the fullback positions). While Chamakh is a decent player, he never was a prolific goalscorer and probably never will be.

    Neither do we have any hot prospects ready to come in next season – Bendtner is almost certainly not coming back, Vela has been a bit hit and miss for a few seasons now and Afobe & Watt don’t look the deal just yet. Therefore I think we need to bring in someone on a long-term deal for the forward position and if he can play on the wings as well then that’s an added bonus.

    I trust AW to do the right thing and if nothing else, I am proud of the spirit this team has shown thus far this season and pray it continues till May.

    • desigunner says:

      Limit on loans is another issue that I’d missed out on. I think Arsenal can only have two players on loan at any given time, but not sure about it. That too restricts the possibilities in Jan.

      I think more than a full-back the need is for a player who can perform multiple roles, at least two. So instead of a loan it could be a permanent signing, but there aren’t many quality players around who fit the bill.

      • Two Left Feet says:

        A utility player would certainly help which is part of the reason why I was sad to see Eboue leave. The lad could play anywhere on the right side and was happy being a squad player – a rarity in modern football.

        As you pointed out, finding the right player is difficult and coming to an agreement with the club and the player is even harder. Vertonghen is a name that has been often mooted and I am one of his admirers but given that his primary position is CB, it’s difficult to see Wenger going for him.

  26. Nepali Gunner says:


    Most people have appreciated how good of an article it is, but I had to get my two cents in as well. Brilliantly written, and very well made arguments as well.

    As for the transfers itself, I do agree with you that a striker is top priority. From the rumors, it seems there might be interest in Arshavin. I believe now would be the time to cash in on him, and bring one player. But you are absolutely right about the adjustment from a different league, so possibly a home grown solution. I really can’t think of anyone realistic though.

    Selling Arshavin will be a risk, but perhaps desirable. I do think we have enough cover in the creative mid-field. I am torn on Podolski though, because I have concerns about his overall style fitting in w/ Arsenal. But he could provide a more direct approach which may work. That’s why Arsene gets paid 7 mil a year, its to make those decisions.

    Anyways, something will happen this window. However, bringing Henry back is not the answer in my opinion.

    • desigunner says:

      Yup, these are the kind of problems Wenger gets paid to solve… he will probably say as much himself. But the solution isn’t always the best one as external factors are hard to control… we can only hope…

  27. Gooner Family says:

    DesiGooner means you are Indian, right? Great read. You are better than Arseblog, Gunnerblog, LG, Just Arsenal, etc.

  28. Passenal says:

    This article started well as you outlined the complicated nature of squad building with the current restrictions, but your concluding sentence let the whole thing down. If you really believed what you were saying, you would not finish with such an unrealistic statement since a significant number of factors are outside the control of the manager.

    • desigunner says:

      I think the two are different issues. The whole point of the article is to discuss the complexities involved and Wenger might not succeed in the market in a way that he’d like. i can accept that.

      The current squad is in a tough spot and without additions they will struggle to finish in the top four. I can personally live with that because i understand the problems involved.

      Not sure what you mean by “unrealistic statement”.

  29. Tim says:


    Here’s the official list:

    First, this is a Premier League squad rule only. It does not effect the list for the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the League cup.

    Second, Arsenal can name up to 8 homegrown players. They currently have 5, one of which is Mannone.

    Third, Arsenal can name 17 players who are both over 21 and are not homegrown. Which they have done. Of those players, Arsenal could change the registration of Almunia, Fabianski, Diaby, and Squillaci and I’m not sure how many people would shed a tear. Arsenal can do this during any open registration period (January).

    Fourth, the FA allows for teams to petition for exceptions due to injury. So, if someone does get taken off the official list, like a keeper, say Mannone, Fabianski, or Almunia, and Szczesny gets injured, well, then we just petition the FA to allow us to rename one of the others.

    Fifth, Arsenal can name an unlimited number of U21 players.

    This means that in January Arsenal can recruit up to three homegrown players and an unlimited number of U21 players. What happens in Summer? Well, a lot of things actually.

    Benayoun is on loan. His registration ends as soon as the loan is done. That’s one free spot in the coveted 17 without selling anyone.

    Almunia’s contract expires. He will not be re-signed by Arsenal, that’s two free spots in the coveted 17 without having to sell anyone.

    Ramsey and Szczesny both stop qualifying for the U21 exemption. However, they will always qualify for homegrown. This means that Arsenal will have 7 of the 8 slots taken for homegrown.

    So, let’s recap.

    Arsenal can sign two non-homegrown, over-21, players and shift the registration of Almunia, Fabianski, or Squillaci who aren’t playing anyway. This will not mean “blowing the team up” this Summer because Arsenal lose Almunia and Benayoun anyway.

    In addition, Arsenal can also sign one to three homegrown players in January with no impact on the 25 man rule.

    And finally, Arsenal can sign an unlimited number of U21 players.

    WHEW… crisis averted.

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks for summarizing the post and some additional details about the summer. Not sure how you brought “crisis” into the picture though.

      • Tim says:

        “The current injury crisis has only strengthened this belief…”

      • desigunner says:

        That is a line written in a very specific context and is a very minor part of the post. The way to understand that is simple – take that line out and see if it affects the post significantly. It doesn’t.

        Makes me wonder if you were just reading the words without getting any of the context. Probably also explains why you saw the need to repeat most of the points made in the post.

      • TimTim says:

        Ok Des, first I didn’t summarize your post. You argue that buying players this January is made difficult by the 25 man rule and that is simply wrong. Also the tenor of your post is that this squad size issue is a mini crisis and you use words like crisis, complicated, difficulty and whatnot in order to ramp up that feeling.

        What I did was point out where you are wrong about how “difficult” this period is going to be by filling in the gaps in your data.

        Clearly, you took that personally which explains why you have now resorted to ad hominem attacks.

        Anyway, see you around.

      • desigunner says:

        Well, you’ve made five numbered points of which points 2 through 5 are already covered in the post so it is a summary of what I am saying.

        Your first point is valid. This squad is only for the Premiership but I don’t think Wenger is going to buy any player only for the Cups so it’s not a critical one.

        You have added some details about the summer, which I have acknowledged in my first reply, but those aren’t very relevant at the moment. But yes they do add to the decision making and actually make things more complicated. For instance, should he sell Almunia now or wait for the summer? Selling him now will involve time and effort. Can that time and effort be better spent elsewhere? For instance on watching and analyzing some part of the game. In case you didn’t realize, time available is finite even to a guy like Arsene.

        Wenger can indeed buy any number of U21 players and as someone already pointed out in the comments above, Goetze and some other stars fall in this category. That’s a point I have already gladly acknowledged.

        Ultimately, you’ve skipped past the difficult part by saying Arsenal can the registration of A, B, and C. I know they can and I’ve covered that fairly well. It’s just not that simple IMO and I am trying to look at various factors involved. Arsenal wanted to sell some of these players in the summer but it didn’t work out. The same might happen again. And without removing these players from the squad, one way or the other, new additions are not possible.

        I have stated that in the summer Wenger will have more time and will be better placed to make decisions. Beyond that I didn’t want to think of the summer in detail as the post was already too long but your inputs are helpful, although not very pertinent to the central theme.

        As far as the tone of the post goes, you seem to be the only one who has seen this as a “crisis” post. Read through the comments and tell me that’s not the case. This is simply a discussion of how complex things can get and it’s not as easy as removing three or four players and buying others in their place, which is sadly what you seem to be suggesting in your point 3.

        I don’t see where I have attacked you in any way. Based on your initial comment and your insistence that you’re actually “filling in the gaps” in data I strongly believe that either a) you’ve not really read the post but just skimmed through the words or b) you just haven’t grasped the context.

        Do you really think the work that Arsene has to do in the transfer market is not “complex” or “difficult”? All I have done is to discuss the factors involved that many seem to miss. Clearly, a lot of readers found it helpful. You didn’t. I don’t mind.

      • Tim says:

        Can you please stop accusing me of lacking basic reading comprehension or skimming the article? It’s as insulting as your insistence that you aren’t trying to paint the 25 man rule as a stumbling block to signing players and that all I did was summarize your post when you make no mention of Benayoun and Almunia’s contracts.

        Your insistence on attacking me instead of the salient points I raised whilst simultaneously not listening to the dissenting voices here is all the proof I need that you’re not willing to listen to other view points.

        In the end it doesn’t really matter how complicated the process is. Arsenal is signing Thierry Henry and made it look pretty damn simple. That doesn’t mean that the process is simple, they are still haggling over insurance and stuff, but rather that when there’s a will, there’s a way.

        If the Thanks for the work, but I disagree with the tone and much of the substance of what you’ve written here.

      • desigunner says:

        I have addressed the “salient points” you’ve made. I have clearly identified the part that is useful and added to the content of the post, that which seems redundant (4 out of your first 5 points), and the part which is of low relevance (summer related including Almunia and Benayoun contracts) yet something that adds to the discussion.

        Based on the facts you have an opinion and I have an opinion. You think the article has many “gaps” and I am trying to paint some kind of a horror picture. I think you missed the basic point completely and your follow up comments have just strengthened this belief. You are blaming me for my tone? Did you see the tone of your initial comment, especially given the redundancy in it? Who’s being insulting here? I could easily perceive your opinion as insulting but I am not taking that path. Are you claiming that you never miss a point or misunderstand what is being said? Or that I don’t know the points I am trying to make but you know those better than me?

        Not sure why you are trying to take away my right to an opinion. Just because you perceive it as insulting doesn’t make it so. All I can say is take a few deep breaths and read the whole article plus the comments once again. Count the number of people who agree with you. In any case, I haven’t stopped you from writing what you feel and won’t do so in the future but for me this matter is over.

    • santori says:

      Essentially, you are both saying the same thying.

      Tim I think is correct in saying that the article published bears a parlour of ‘complication’ over it albeit I might sop short of categorising it as a ‘crisis’ piece.

      Also I think Tim is correct with his assessment and that it isn’t quite as ‘compicated’ for us at it may seem and that we have still quite some ‘give’ built in.

      I think Desi is overall correct in assuming that our effective business will come in the summer where prices are more competitive.

      Henry is the most likely short term solution to cover both striker alternate and LW.

      Thereafter with that issue covered, we will have more play in bargaining for an additional (more long term) solution to the forward position if need be this January and in particular if the price is reasonable.

      I would think South America (Brasil) will be an interesting source to look into as (correct me if I am wrong) one part of the season is concluded?

      I don’t see Wenger moving for a winger either unless opportunity presents itself. We will need all the financial muster necessary to fight our battles in the summer.;)

  30. IndianGunner says:

    Great post Desi. I think Phil Jones ticks all the boxes for the versatile defender and that is the reason we saw le boss bid so high for him in summer
    I too believe we need more of a versatile defender than a specialist now. Rodwell seems to be looking for a move and he could be good but won’t be cheap

    • Wrenny says:

      Very good point. Jones would have been expensive but I believe Wenger would have thought his versatility made him worth it. He can offer good quality cover in a number of positions so in effect you’re getting 2 or 3 players for the money. The only drawback is that this kind of versatile player must have a strong resistance to injury. Every knock he picks up can hit the squad twice or three times as hard as a knock to a specialist player.

  31. Messi's dad says:

    Great post Desi, in light of the endless pre-January hype and speculation, we need more such realistic analysis based on the transfer rules and restrictions, and not just some “Championship Manager” type fantasizing.

    I just have one belated comment on the speculation concerning an Henry loan, which has spiked like crazy in the last 24 hours – I don’t believe a word of it!

    Sports journalists seem to be blindly regurgitate the blogosphere – ESPNSoccernet quotes “according to widespread reports”.

    BBC quotes a “senior club source”. Since when have we played this “insider leaks” game?

    Of course, as I am just a Gooner at the other end of the world, I could be completely wrong…

  32. tshidiso9 says:

    Well written. Can’t agree with you more

  33. Dhruv says:

    Desi, good article. Other arsenal blogsites are also speculating on the January transfers and all are very interesting.

    Rosicky is the one player who is most likely to be sold because of his contract expiring very soon, but Rosicky is an important cog so not sure what decision Arsene will take.

    Arshavin has some saleability at this point in time, and this season he has had only one or two games he has proved to be any worth. I like you appreciate Arshavin’s talents but there are no visible recovery signs with him. I suspect he could go, but again depends how much affinity Le Boss has left for him.

    There are suggestions that Fabianski may be on his way out searching for regular football. Almunia will stay. No body is going to buy Squillaci, so he will also stay.

    Lets see how it pans out

  34. Beekeeper says:


    Very good analysis. quotes Wenger as confirming that Henry is signing with Arsenal. A great move.

  35. santori says:

    As Tim has mentioned, it isn’t quite as complicated a January as it would appear.

    Our critical requirement(s) are essentially :

    1) Cover for RVP
    2) Additional alt. LW
    3) LB (possibly)

    The first and second could be temporarily covered by the Henry loan, call it a ‘panic loan’ if you like 😀

    The third , we may choose to risk as Gibbs and Sagna are due to return end of Jan. My worry in tis respect is that we made a similar calculated assessment last Jan with Vermaelen’s fitness which backfired against us.

    Given that, it may perhaps be doubly important for us to have maximum insurance in thie LB position.

    One way would be to bring in a loan. We could Bridge the gap with Wayne (no pun) but is he the best option?

    Another way may be to reinforce with a player who may later have utility for us further up field and on either flank. I say this in particular as we may lose the service (read let go) of Rosicky, Arsharvin and Benayoun (loan return) then.

    In which case, perhaps a move (if the price is right) for the likes of a Vargas (Fiorentina) or Basots (Lyon) may be desirable. Both men are adept playing further forward but have the p[roper capability to cover wide and offer us better support going forward from the position.

    Either way, I do not think we have an issue with capacity in terms of bringing new players in. It will be as always a question of money and how much we keep dry for our fight in the summer.

  36. chinke chikezie says:

    Wow! Great write-up, wonderful analysis. Its good to have all these things at the back of your mind while making some technical decisions. From what i understand we (arsenal) need to strike a good balance considering the limitations at hand, while making transfer desicions this January window. To go straight to the point, i think it will be best if Wenger leaves out (loan, sell,etc.), Squillaci, and go for Vertonghen who can actually play as a utility player(Centre Back, Left Back, Defensive Midfield) so as to have options to manage injury crises situations.

    Podolski! Podolski! Podolski! Should there be a debate about getting this guy? My answer is NO, just go get him. I don’t think there’s any better option right now, he will be a good cover in the left wing and striking role. Based on this Chamakh or Park should go on loan.

    IGWE! IGWE!! IGWE!!! (The King) as he is fondly called in Nigeria. Who else, the Legend himself Henry. Welcome home Brother, its just for 2 months. I hope this will be a great return.

    I believe there could not be a better January signing than this trio.

    May God see us through. AMEN!

  37. Byo says:

    I have always enjoyed reading thoughtful pieces like this. It lays out the various intricacies of the transfers. I hope readers really take note of the complexities.

    The point about Vertonghen is well taken. I have never cared much for Samba or Cahill. How are the defences of Blackburn and Bolton doing with them in there? It seems like every season, you get calls from morons for Wenger to buy this player or that, without any understanding of what it entails. The same people call for Wenger’s outster after a drawn game, or god forbid a loss..

  38. Confidentgoner says:

    Walcott doing his best to deny himself the 85k pay day

  39. […] key. I strongly believe Wenger needs to find a way to strengthen the squad in the Winter. And while I do understand the difficulties involved, it’s hard to see the current group achieving the desired level of consistency. Arsenal might […]

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