I love that I write this blog first thing in the morning, because it’s mornings like this one, where I wake up and see headlines like Gunners closing in on Kalou capture and crack a huge smile. Actually, today, when I read that headline I almost spit my coffee out. After all, it’s a patently ridiculous story, right?
Here’s what we know as fact: First, Arsene Wenger made an inquiry about Salmon Kalou last year: Scolari mentioned it in his pre-match press conference and Wenger confirmed it in his. Second, Scolari said that during Wenger’s inquiry Arsene said he wanted to use Kalou as a Centre Forward. Third, this was at the time, remember, when Adebayor was doing the hokey-pokey with Arsenal. Fourth, the Chamakh deal is falling apart a bit and Wenger seems unlikely to increase his bid of £6m for Chamakh when the player would be available for FREE in 5 months. Fifth, Senderos has accepted Everton and Everton have confirmed that they are in talks with Arsenal over the sale of Senderos for a reported £2.5m – £6m (!) though they are quick to say he’s not intended as a replacement for Lescott. That last bit probably seems a bit like it doesn’t fit but wait a second and you’ll see the logic.
Where was I?
Sixth, Wenger has spoken ad nauseum about how “keeping this squad together” is his most important summer job. Seventh, Arsene convinced Toure to stay after he handed in a dramatic winter transfer request and then sold him in the summer. Eighth, Arsene Wenger purchased Thomas Vermaelen before all this other transfer stuff happened. And lastly, Vermaelen, Kalou, and Chamakh are all known for their aerial ability.
So, knowing all 9 of those things what can we say about this latest Kalou rumor, the latest news about Senderos, and the prospect of Wenger signing the defensive player (either mid or back) that 93% of Arsenal fans want?
I think the Kalou interest is partially real. Last year Wenger saw the 5’10″ Kalou as a legit Centre Forward and direct replacement for Adebayor. He’s a good header of the ball, good with his feet, and has a lot of Premiership experience so he’s used to the knocks that guys like John Terry dole out. That said, Wenger probably wants Chamakh as his first choice and this latest story about Kalou, leaked to the Sun for good coverage, plus the story in L’Equipe where Wenger is quoted as saying that Arsenal will just wait Bordeaux out is simply Wenger playing hardball.
It’s nice to see, I guess. I just wish that Wenger would play hardball to get in some defensive cover!
And here’s the thing about that… Arsenal haven’t lost nor gained in that realm if you think about it. Wenger knew that Toure was leaving at the end of this season, heck I’d be willing to bet he asked Toure to stay just until this Summer, as a favor to the team, so that he could get a replacement. Thus, Vermaelen is Arsene’s replacement for Toure. As we all know, Wenger prefers center half’s with great recovery speed over height and muscle, it fits the high-line-ball-holdery system that Arsenal play. Moreover, Vermaelen is reportedly a great header of the ball. I’ve only seen pre-season matches and YouTube clips but so far he does look the best header on the team.
So, when Wenger said “keeping the team together” he meant “keeping the core players together, and keeping the team playing style together.” Therefore, Senderos doesn’t count. He didn’t figure last year after being shipped off to AC Milan and it was pretty clear in pre-season, with Senderos playing defensive mid, that he didn’t figure this year either. Senderos’ sale is a net gain, if you look at it that way.
I already know what just about every comment will be when I say this but I’m going to say it anyway because I think we need to look at things from a different perspective. Typing finger on standby…
From one perspective the squad is actually stronger this year than last.
Well, first, we have, as Thomas Rosicky points out, more attacking options. I am the first to take the piss out of Wenger for his “like a new signing” stuff, but honestly? Getting Rosicky and Eduardo in this team is actually like two new signings. We didn’t have either player last year, they are both undeniably quality players, and they are both already helping this team. The only question mark is whether they can stay healthy, but on this Arsenal team that’s a question mark for every player. LITERALLY. Name me one player who hasn’t been haunted by the specter of injury every season for the last 4 years. The emergence of Jack Wilshere, while I think he will get limited time, also adds to Arsenal’s attacking prowess. So, from that perspective, Arsenal have gotten much stronger.
In the midfield too, Arsenal have added. Song and Denilson have both gotten an entire year’s worth of Premiership experience under their belts and I doubt anyone would say that Song hasn’t gotten better. Denilson had a great start to the season last year and then seemed to fade so he could be a question mark. But in a 4-3-3 Wenger has a lot of options in midfield. Nasri, Song, Diaby, Chesk, Denilson, Rosicky, and Wenger is talking up Aaron Ramsey.
I’m not trying to take the piss out of my readers, and I know that many of you feel like those options aren’t of the quality that we’d like at Arsenal. I feel the same way! Chesk Fabregas feels the same way! What I’m offering though, is a different perspective. If Wenger doesn’t buy a midfielder, and it’s looking increasingly like he isn’t going to, then Wenger DOES think that those guys are the right quality. We clearly have the money to buy someone. Hell, we could buy Daniele de Rossi if we wanted. And just as clearly, Arsene isn’t interested.
Wenger could still surprise a lot of us and sign someone like M. Diarra from Real Madrid, but I seriously doubt he will. It seems like, from Arsene’s perspective, Arsenal already have the quality in midfield and if anything we’ve gotten better all around; up front with Eduardo, Arshavin, and Wilshere, in the middle with Rosicky and Ramsey and the more experienced Song and Denilson (not to mention Nasri), and at the back with the subtraction of Toure and the addition of a guy who can head the ball and who has proven leadership qualities in Vermaelen.
So, Salmon Kalou in does make a sort of sense all the sudden doesn’t it? I mean if you think of him as a Centre Forward, which supposedly Arsene does, then he’s the logical replacement for Adebayor and Arsene’s just “keeping this team together.”