Two important things happen this week: the transfer window closes Friday night and subsequent to that, Arsenal have to submit their 25 man squad to the Premier League. Until then, Arsenal’s official squad still names the usual suspects on everyone’s clear-out wish list: Squillaci, Park, Fabianski, Lansbury, Chamakh, and Bendtner.
Actually Lansbury is just an example of how the League’s 25 man rule could effect teams with a robust academy like Arsenal. Teams are allowed to name as many u-21 players to their official squad as they like (prompting much outrage among the tabloids when Arsenal named a 46 man squad) but once that player turns 21, the club now has to make a choice: to name or not to name.
With limited spots available any player over the age of 21 who is not getting significant playing time in the Arsenal first team is going to be shopped around pretty heavily this week, I suspect, because Arsenal can’t afford to take up a roster spot naming a bit-part player to their official Premier League or Champions League teams, right? Goalkeepers aside, because clubs always need a backup keeper, if you ain’t playin’ you’re walkin’. Lansbury, Watt, Shea, and Leastmond could all be gone.
Or… You’re sitting around collecting a paycheck and maybe getting in on some great cup action.
Mannone represents the other half of this equation. Teams get to have up to 17 foreign-grown players. And since Arsenal will almost always have that many foreign grown players, that leaves 8 roster slots for homegrown players, so the logic goes. Since Mannone counts as a homegrown player, and he’s a goalkeeper, and Arsenal don’t have eight homegrown players this season, he’s probably going to stay with the club. They don’t have any reason to sell him, he’s probably content as a backup, and he’s making up home-grown numbers.
Bendtner is similar to Mannone in that he’s a homegrown player. Bendtner almost certainly would have secured a roster spot at Arsenal this season, if he’d have kept his nose to the grindstone. Instead, his alleged alcohol abuse problems have seen him fall out of favor at Arsenal. Still, if the club can’t sell him because of his proclivities for getting drunk and shooting his mouth off about what a great person he is, you could see Bendtner make Arsenal’s 25 man squad. Like I said, the club has precious few over-21 homegrown players.
I am probably wrong about this, but from what I can tell the Arsenal over 21 homegrown players listed on the first team page are: Szczesny, Mannone, Djourou, Gibbo, Ramsey, Coquelin, Walcott, and Bendtner. By the way, the picture that Arsenal are using for Bendtner’s profile is hilarious and absolutely must be intentional. I also love the irony of a “homegrown” rule which is intended to produce “English” talent and for which Arsenal have 5/8 of the spots reserved for non-British homegrown players.
But this brings me back to Lansbury. If Arsenal sold Bendtner, and I’m right in my calculations as to who is over 21 on which dates and whether they count as homegrown, then Arsenal could actually keep Lansbury because they would have an open roster spot for a homegrown player. Not only that, but homegrown players can take one of the 17 foreign-grown spots if they are available.
Or I’m wrong and Jack Wilshere and a few others need his spot. In which case, see you, Mr Lansbury and thanks for scoring against Tottenham.
As for players coming in that’s a bit tricky. The first question you have to ask is what do Arsenal need? And the second question is do we have a roster spot for him?
Let’s answer the second first: emphatically YES — there is no way that Arsenal could not have a roster spot for any type of player we so choose to bring in. Why? Because even if you can’t sell say, Squillaci, you simply don’t name him to the 25 man squad. It sucks and you are paying a premium for bringing in this new player but sometimes you just have to pay for past mistakes and take the penalty.
By my calculations, Arsenal only have 13 non-homegrown players who we couldn’t afford to not name to the full squad: Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Santos, Diaby, Rosicky, Arteta, Cazorla, Arshavin*, Podolski,
DjourouGiroud**, and Gervinho. Remember, just because you pay a player’s salary doesn’t mean you must name him to your 25 man squad (ahem, Man City). And, also remember that you can keep the player around and if there’s a problem with injuries or something, name them to the squad in January.
That means whether Arsenal can sell Bendtner, Chamakh, Park, or anyone else is somewhat irrelevant. There are plenty of roster spots available for new players at Arsenal.
So, who should Arsenal bring in? Everyone seems to think that the club need a defensive midfielder but there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that might not be the case. The first is that Arsenal have Coquelin who counts as homegrown and I don’t think he is going too leave the club any time soon. If the club are looking for a midfielder who will play backup, why not use the backup we already have? Second, Wenger pretty clearly doesn’t believe that having a specialist defensive midfielder is necessary. If he did, I’m pretty sure the club could have had one by now. However, if Arsenal do look at this position I would suggest Joel Matip of Schalke. Baring injury, he will be the breakout player of the Bundesliga this season.
I wouldn’t have a problem with a right back coming in to the club or a versatile player who can play across the back line but personally, more than any other position I want the club to bring in a backup goalkeeper and think that Arsenal should raid Major League Soccer to find him. Tell me you weren’t struck slightly cold when you saw Mannone in the starting lineup against Stoke? He did well, but still, it would be nice to have an experienced backup in this position.
As for raiding MLS for a keeper, the logic here is that the USA has produced several fine goalkeepers over the years and the league is actually as, if not more, physical and aerial than the Premier League. The only problem with this is that securing a work permit will prove to be difficult owning to the fact that both of team USA’s main keepers already play in the Premier League. Still, it can be done, right?
Either way its certainly not places in the 25 man squad that are preventing Arsenal from buying players.
*I’ve said it before, Arshavin will be with the team this season.
**Did you know that Djourou and Giroud are homophones?