Arsenal rearrange the deck chairs to make room for Villa?

Good morning everyone. I have changed the theme again, because I think the last one was causing problems with comments. “Change” is how things are going to have to be for a while until I can research a new, more stable, theme, buy it, install it, and customize all the files. Sorry if this looks plain or ugly but at east you can reply to comments and it doesn’t crash every time I post an article.

Anyway, news… Arsenal have a number of players in the news this morning as Chamakh and Djourou have both been sent out on loan. Chamakh has been picked up by West Ham and Djourou has gone to Hannover.

Chamakh to West Ham makes a lot of sense. West Ham play route one football and Chamakh is pretty good at that. Or at least he was. One of his best matches for Arsenal was when he scored two against Wolverhampton: one in the first minute from a long cross by Alex Song and one in the 90th minute on a counter attack. That game was particularly memorable because Arsenal struggled in the game prior, “lacking a bit directness” and came out balls to the wall and it was Chamakh who benefited from Arsenal’s change in style.

One odd wrinkle to this loan deal is that the Hammers are starting Carlton Cole in the forward position right now and I’m curious to see if Chamakh can win a starting place over Cole. Remember, Carlton Cole was one of the players that Arsenal were linked to before they bought Chamakh and I savaged the idea here on my blog. Now that they are competing head-to-head we will finally know: which one is the bigger loser.

As for Djourou, I’m actually very happy that he’s taking this chance to go somewhere and compete for first team football. Hannover will be a good place to do that, the pressure is off, and their starting center back pair include a fellow Swiss player, the 31 year old Mario Eggimann. According to sources, Djourou’s loan deal has a permanent transfer clause in it and again, none of this is bad news for Arsenal or for the player. I’m just glad that he hasn’t decided to end his career at Arsenal as Mayor of Deadwood.

Arsenal have two other players who are interesting clubs on the continent: apparently Arshavin turned down a chance to play for Reading, but continental sides like S.S. Nazio are strongly rumored to be on the case. And Squillaci is talking openly (albeit in the French Press) about contact from clubs like Ajaccio.

It’s pretty clear that Arsenal have decided to get some money off the books in order to fund some kind of move. Personally, I’m concerned about the center back position and losing two players there. I suppose I shouldn’t be too worried, Arsenal have three viable starters and Miquel to plug in if needed. So, as much as I’d like to fantasize about Arsenal buying Ettiene Capoue or someone like him that can fill multiple functions in Arsenal’s defense and midfield, I’d be surprised if defense is Arsenal’s target area. Except to say that we could see the club go for a young English player, a Nathan Baker or a Luke Shaw. Someone to cover left back so that Vermaelen doesn’t have to.

All this clearing of salary space looks to me like Arsenal want to sign a high wage player and those are normally forwards. That’s why I’ve come around to the conclusion that the rumors Arsenal are in for David Villa have some truth to them. It seems quite incredible on paper: he’s 31, he’s only ever played in Spain, he’s been injured for the better part of two years, he was the 17th highest paid footballer in the world (€7,000,000 a year in 2011), in a country where the tax rate is lower than England, and Barcelona want £16m in transfer fees — though much of that might be offset by money Barcelona owe Arsenal for Song’s transfer. If David Villa cost that much and demands the salary I imagine he would demand it would break Arsenal’s transfer record (though they might play that down because of the Song money) and Arsenal’s salary structure.

David Villa has great touch and goal-scoring vision which he has proven at the highest level. He has been struggling a bit since coming back from injury but as we have seen with Jack Wilshere that’s normal. Regardless of how you feel about the player and his recent form he is an upgrade on Podolski (whom I like) and a major upgrade on Gervinho who may have tripped over his last dribble for Arsenal.

If Arsenal can pull this transfer off, it’s going to be a bit of a coup and will certainly energize the team and fans. But I want to send out a word of warning: he’s 31 and will be Arsenal’s highest paid player who will probably demand a 4 year deal. That means in 4 years he’s going to be 35 and still one of Arsenal’s highest paid players but probably not contributing much. In the parlance of 2013 he will be “deadwood”. But the optimist in me prefers to think of those last two years as a “signing bonus” because in the next two years he’s going to score… 35 goals? Something like that, yeah!

Another warning is that Villa is not the kind of player who can make his own shot and isn’t a wide player who puts in lots of deadly crosses. He’s a lot like Podolski in that regard, he’s more of a poacher than a creator. That’s not to say that he can’t but rather that he never has. He also won’t play defense like a winger so don’t look for much in terms of tackles and “tracking back”.

I’m basing that analysis off the stats from his most successful season at Barcelona (2010/2011) and Valencia (2009/2010). In terms of league stats, he averaged .75 dribbles per game over those two years, around 19 passes per game, averaged four assists, and had just 7 successful crosses out of 67 attempts — in two years. He drifts off side a lot, has the ball taken from him a lot, generates a lot of turnovers, and doesn’t offer much other than goals. As if that’s a bad thing.

If Arsenal do get him, it’s an interesting acquisition and makes me wonder if Arsene isn’t contemplating a change in formation to accommodate two up front. Seems unlikely at this point in the season, but who knows? I mean, would you play David Villa as the lone striker in the Premier League? Maybe, Arsene did with Theo Walcott.


37 thoughts on “Arsenal rearrange the deck chairs to make room for Villa?

  1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1davi

    David Villa is (or was) an absolutely world class forward, as good as anyone in the world, and could absolutely play up front in Arsenal’s system, as long as he’s still close to his best. He IS the sort of player who can score a goal on his own; he can dribble as well as anyone and can score from outside the box as well as inside it – far more than just a poacher – but the main thing he would offer is excellent movement off-the-ball. That said, I don’t think it makes sense to sign him permanently because he’s 31 and has clearly had major problems over the past 2 seasons. To pay 16m for any 31 year old is a bit stupid imo, but to spend it on one who is struggling with form due to a major injury is unthinkable. A loan move might be ideal and could include an option to buy at the end of the season.
    If we were lucky we *could* get an Arshavin-style end-of-season blitz out of him to get us into the top 4, but it would still be a huge risk to sign him permanently on the basis of that possibility.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      “Poacher” might be an overstep on my part. My point is that he’s not a dribbler like Suarez or like many of the wing players who like the ball at their feet. He doesn’t. He’d rather play a one-two than dribble to break down an opponent.

      He’s like Podolski, but better, and I say that knowing full-well it will rile people because there’s some kind of hatred out there for Podolski but I happen to think Poldi is a good player. Limited in some ways but clinical in others and like Villa (but to a lesser extent) he can score great goals.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Agree with Tim.

      Happy to see Djourou move on for first team opportunity elsewhere.

      I suspect it may be permanent with pressure from Miquel through the academy and likely in the summer another revamp in defense albeit mainly focused on fullbacks.

      If Vermaelen is moved to LB, then possibly someone like Yanga Mbiwa who has great flexibility to cover us in various positions.

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1shaggy

    The only negatives i see here is age and price. But in the same breathe i can see a positive feeling coming back in the fans and team through a Big Name Signing.Even if he has no sell on price at the end of his contract. £14million is cheap for a player of his quality and he has 3 yrs of his best form to give. So if you look through it on a positive it could make sense. Players would learn from him.There would be more understanding between midfield and him as he has played for Barcelona as well as Spain who play the Arsenal current system. Arteta and Santi are Spaniards and would get an understanding with Villa faster coz of this. Santi has played with him for Spain.So it has With Merit that they have a good understanding between each other already!!
    But then you have to look at the other available strikers and their is Adrian Lopez 24 yrs old good player and has room for improvement.but has the years with him to improve and without doubt he will under Wenger’s Guidance.I think we could get him for £11 million a player that has a sell on price.Also is a Spaniard, he has played with Santi before with
    Spain, Areta will understand him. he know our style of football as well as Spain play it !!
    I think i would have Lopez over Villa for the reason s i stated at the start age,price on sell on price… Fact
    but Lopez and Yann Villa now that is the business we need at Arsenal !! to make us feel proud and the players will get strength from it !! as will the Fans !! it could make this season bareable !! and who knows we might even get a cup :)

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Ray

    Arsenal will get Villa for about £8m – Barca will take the cut ‘cos of the way they got Fab on the cheap and the Song deal which is outstanding (and accumulating interest daily!)

    But what’s more interesting is the whisper that Arsene will revert to an all out attacking 4-2-4, with Villa-Giroud-Theo rotating for the front 2 positions – Cazorla switching to the wings with Pod and The Ox rotating around him, and Jack-Arteta-Diaby rotating for the middle 2.

    That whisper came from a Bo(u)ld source……….

  4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin

    A san serif font looks much cleaner and is a lot easier on the eye for digital content than a serif font. I like this one and when you make your final decision I hope you keep it to something similar!

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    There was this one movie dialog I can not pin to the movie, which I simply loved as I young(er) man, because it resonated with me at the time on some emotional level, and it went verbatim like this:
    Not now…then. Now is no good. Now it’s too late.
    (If any of you guys remember where this was from, I would be very appreciative if you would let me know, it’s been eating me up for the last 5-6 years)

    My point being, I was over the moon when I heard David Villa proclaim his love for the style of football Arsenal play…in 2008.

    At the moment, with the money being mentioned, along with his age everything, I can not see this happening.

    And to me, signing a 31year old player who has never played in the English league and has been injured for more than a year is the same type of nonsense stupidity as missing out on a player like Xavi Alonso for a 1 mil difference.

    If you plan spending money, why not go after someone like Higuain, whose contract is also about to expire (if I’m not mistaken), and even though would cost slightly more, should be able to offer slightly more as well?

    Tim also mentioned that Vela striker from the Primera, also not so bad, but I say if we are risking of losing 30 million on missing out on the Champions League, why not splash big on a player that can make a difference?
    I’m saying there’s this guy in the PL, absolutely on fire, who goes by the name of Van Persie, and if we could get him, I’m sure we wouldn’t have to sweat over qualifying for the Champions League.
    Just my two cents.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Higuain is a possibility and a good choice. Clearly a talented player but no longer commanding the sort of pedigree he was once so finely cloaked with.

      There is a bit of flux at Real at the moment as their season has gone unexpectedly concave.

      What happens vis-a-vis Mourinho/chairman/Cronaldo may determine some possible bargains there. Pity Benzema is unavailable.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I have a feeling had we wanted to go for 31+, we could have gone for Berbatov in part exchange for the deal on RVP.

      Ah well.

  6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1createstrain

    villa? sounds exactly like a wenger gamble to me. if it worked then he could fill the purse void adequately. 31? hmmmm. 8 mil? hmmmmaybe. higuain? lopez? i’ll have to googlem.

    off the top tho, i think id still pick villa for 8mil. not 16.

    if theo stays great. if not then i look forward to seeing lopez among 3 other Spaniards.

    if we still cant create consistent chances after that with jack or mozart also then wow.

  7. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1caribkid

    Not certain I like this gamble, and considering his age, recent injury history and lack of EPL experience, it’s a huge one. Having not picking up either Ba or Rossi, I am very meh about anyone else outside of Cavani, Falcao and Damaio (pipe dreams I know).

    Can’t figure out how Arsene compared Ba with Giroud when they have so few similarities. Bah to Ba, he not only started, but scored 2 goals for Chel$ki after training with them for one day.

    In Arsene I T-Rust, can’t figure out which applies.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      What he means is Ba and Giroud are relatively similar types of players. He wasn’t talking about who was more effective presently.

      Both Ba and Giroud (like Llorente) are more traditional bruising Centre forwards that offer strength and aerial ability.

      Could we do with another one? Of course if you have an unlimited budget but do we need another? No.

      We need variation in approach up top to combat different types of defenses.

      Giroud represents one approach Walcott can provide another. where defenses are more ‘open’ and when his speed can create maximum havoc through the middle.

      But Walcott still lacks craft and guile + awareness.

      critically, we would benefit from someone with speed and guile up top.

      Unfortunately, there is a very limited supply of top top players with both these attributes.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1createstrain

    quick google and if we can get villa for 14 or under then get him. class act. if he can stay fit. higuain at 25 doesnt look like he’s going anywhere. and if theo goes well…lopez seems to have better tech and guile, not as fast as theo but who is. pretty quick tho.

    a double spanish coup in jan? would lift the gunner spirits for sure. honestly tho. cant see either one. theo and zaha if were lucky.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Only one striker.

      Wide man only if Walcott does not renew. Likely not any of candidates mentioned, we need someone who can offer trickery and keep possession (technical skills) out wide.

      Otherwise other priority will likely (MUST) be to back up Arteta. Diaby’s return to training looks again ominous in this regard and it will be foolish to bank on him but we’ve seen it happen.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    There is a paucity of choice at the moment in terms of strikers that can offer both pace and working knowledge around the box, particularly for pricing needed.

    Villa :

    As mentioned, he has bags of know how and experience, a massive plus. But at 14m possibly expensive considering depreciation in coming years. Best option of Barca is agreeable is for a loan IMO. He isn’t particularly pacy and @5’9 may struggle to impose himself against some of the more robust teams. Also as Tim mentioned, not sure our current system with him deployed as front man might help, particularly as we have been scant with possession on the deck.

    This has to be weighed against what Lopez may represent for value at close to similar price but with a better age differential. Albeit ostensibly, Lopez will also face similar issues with regards the physicality in the league and he will lack the experience Villa has.

    Then there is the possibility of perhaps bidding slightly more for the likes of Leandro Damiao who possesses the pace we need plus technical awareness without compromise to physical presence. @23, he is in the right age ballpark in close to entering his peak years.

    On the negative, he may cost (likely 22-24m) but with injury this last season curtailing Internacional’s performance, we may be able to negotiate aggressively to 18m (plus add ons)

    Timing is also important. Walcott will be watching proceedings in this regard carefully.

    There is also a possibility say if Walcott decides nnot to renew and if Liverpool offer the best money for him, with Chamakh on loan at West Ham, Liverpool might be able to recall Caroll for the physical role in the middle and we may be able to throw in a cheeky bid for say Suarez who is a known operator in the PL and @25 better value than an aging star at 31.

    So again, it isn’t as simple as just splashing money (unless you are City or Chelsea). We will have to weigh the value each may represent to price/cost carefully and I am sure Wenger will bench mark one opportunity against the other.

    But the list is likely very short for players who can come in to add that certain variation to Giroud.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1arsonwenger

      Agree somewhat. Striker market is tight and likely we will have to see how other teams move to fill in their requirements.

      but we should have ammo to (IMO) pay a little higher than we are used to for a marquee name. I like Villa but if say Higuain comes on line or Leandro is reduced in price, may be better to get someone younger.

      OTOH, plenty of French/French speaking ‘DM’s at around 23/24 who are pretty good at the moment.

      Aside from Capoue as you so often mention, there is his colleague Sissoko (also 6’2) and Gonalons at Lyon who is having a good season.

      All reasonably physical players. If Diaby is fit (a bonus), we will be able to also push Santi wide.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Incidentally an excellent podcast on Arseblog yesterday with Philip Auclair.

    What he says makes a lot of sense.

    Particularly the lack of dynamics/ variation with regard Wenger’s tactics/substitutions/rotations (general management of Arsharvin)

    The additional player(s) will help but what needs to be worked on goes beyond merely the transfer window alone. That would be to lose track of some of the deeper rooted issues which can be tackled and will make positive impact with minute but crucial adjustments.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1santori


    We cannot get Ba if Chelsea are in for him. It is as simple as that.

    For starters, they will offer a better wage package.

    Secondly we will enter a bidding war we will be unable to win.

    Hope that clears things up. just the way things work at the moment.

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1iamjalive

    Remember in 2007, when Henry was 30, he went over to Barcelona, and he was just on the decline from his prime. Still provided some class and well need finishing for Barca

    2013..David Villa, 31, potentially over to Arsenal, he is just on his decline from his prime.. Can he still provide the same class and finishing that Arsenal need?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Although as mentioned by teampossible above, if Higuain comes on market and is price slightly higher, he may be a better option @25.

      Aside from good finishing, Higuain affords plenty of pace and play outside the box which Villa will likely not give.

      We musn’t jump the gun either.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1arsonwenger

      I think you have to weigh it against opportunity cost.

      Wenger likely doesn’t just plan for this window alone. he is also projecting what/who may come on market in the summer.

      If we load up with Villa, as Tim mentioned, he may give us one/two good seasons and then if he slumps, we will have difficulties making space for another striker (say a Higuain as mentioned or Benzema or Cavann ori whoever) if they are suddenly available for cut price for whatever reason.

      Considering the difficulty we have had getting rid of surplus strikers, this must be weighed carefully. Thereby a younger player may be a better option.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerVance

    I’m finding it hard to imagine David Villa on the wing. He does have a hell of a right foot bending shot and coming in from the left is perfect for that, but I don’t see him enjoying his defensive duties and those crossing stats pretty much speak for themselves.

    It would be nice if we could move Cazorla to left wing, play Giroud at CF behind Villa, and let Jack and the other holding/defensive midfielder distribute and stay back to protect the back 4.

    What concerns me is the play from Sagna at right back. We get on Walcott for being one dimensional, but he has no easy option and he is not a dribbler so of course he looks bad. You need a full back that can generate something on the overlapping run to take pressure off the right wing player. You can see a better understanding with Jenkinson when he goes forward, and for that reason I prefer him to Sagna. It’s nerve racking watching Jenkinson defend because you sense his nerves, but he has proven he can perform despite those nerves and he can only improve in my eyes.

  14. Vote -1 Vote +1Gerry Lennon

    I’m Late in joining this speculation … and that is all it is folks.
    As I see it, the only thing fueling this move is that Villa is quoted as saying he wants the move to Arsenal? Everything else about does not have a Wengeresque ring about it. Perhaps if Villa is at today’s Swansea game it might give it more substance, but I think it is a distraction ruse.
    Several things against it happening: They want to sell, not loan; £14-16m or £8 if that includes money owed, is probably the same thing; Four year contract?? Unlikely in the extreme; Injury record. A broken leg is one thing, but how the recovery goes may mean he is damaged goods and unlikely to recover 60% of his previous ability for only 50% of the time?
    A few DM names are floating about too. Capoue and Sissoko, who both play for Toulouse I believe. They will only let one go in this window, and with Spurs rushing about with some new found optimism, I can see one ending up there. M’Vila, a popular choice with some, but I see the Rennes management being the problem here. They want an auction to bump up the price. So if a club makes an inquiry they quickly allow M’Vila to talk to the press … thereby opening the player for other bids. Don’t hold your breath on that one.
    Walcott? I think the ‘elephant in the room’ here is good old ‘Red Nose’? If Nani is out of favour then Theo make a sensible option. But he is not going to get stung with another big bid, he doesn’t have to. If Theo is angling to go there, and just waiting on our next two league games to declare his availability, then I don’t see a bidding war happening. The problem for us will be, we lose him for nothing in the summer, or we take Nani as part-ex(I nearly wrote ‘pratt’ -ex then, which might be more appropriate?), or we have little time left to get an alternative.
    I say that the alternative should be in place now, and Theo is told in no uncertain terms that if he wants to be a striker that does not have to do any defending(which I suspect is what it is partly about?) then he ain’t going to play every game, nor will he play down the middle every time, and if he doesn’t sign our final offer .. NOW!… he can go forth and multiply.
    But that is just my opinion …
    Today’s game will suit Walcott if Swansea come out in an all out attacking mode. The line up will show how we intend to proceed, as indeed will the bench? I hope there will be a place for Eisfeld this time, and used as a positive sub. They are no mugs, but at least we know more about them, so if we are on top of our game we have a good chance to be interested in the 3.30pm draw?

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1Mohd

    If Villa arrives and helps to win games,nobody will give a damn about his injury record. For that matter whoever Wenger buys scores goals and the gunners win,everyone will be happy.
    The most important criteria is winning. If you have a good track record of scoring or goal assists,then all fans will be happy.The important thing is for Wenger to go for the finished product rather potential.We have had enough of potentila. Time to deliver.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerVance

      Of course, but when making a decision to sign someone you don’t plan for the best case scenario. In Villa’s case there are a few reasons not to sign him at THAT price.

  16. Vote -1 Vote +1guneralan

    Just a word of warning here, hes 31, yep he probably does not fit the mould of the current barca style, if we buy him we probably wont see him till feb cause his bird is expecting, and who was that great goal scorer that chelsea bought? On the positive side it will stop the trend of top players coming here, perhaps we could get shnieder (who can go on a free due to his wage packet, if he halved his wage as a signing on fee to us), the shirt sale would pay for themselves for those two. An look what the likes of walcott and the others could learn!!!!! :-) so thats the up side!!!!! isco, lopez, m’villa would also all be positive signs of intent. Or a llorente, but he we can all dream of one or two of them, cause they are needed as is a Luke shaw of southhampton as a like for like replacement for gibbs when he gets injured next,or as a rotation as the january fixture pile up.

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