By the time you read this Arsenal will have announced the signing of Swedish international Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow as cover for the injured Aaron Ramsey and the suspended Mathieu Flamini. Kallstrom is a 31 year old former Lyon midfielder who has been plying his trade on the frozen tundra of the Russian Premier League for a year and a half.
Known as a tough-tackling (or combative) midfielder, Kallstrom isn’t afraid to get his shorts dirty. In last season’s Champions League play, Kallstrom averaged 3.5 tackles per game and 3 interceptions for Spartak Moscow as they crashed out of the group stages to Celtic.
It was that Celtic match which, for many writing about him today, will be the defining moment of Kallstrom’s career: he was sent off in the 88th minute, while his team were down 2-1, for a high kick on Celtic’s match winner, Commons. It was perhaps a deserved second yellow card but it wasn’t an ugly foul by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t be fooled into thinking Kallstrom is some kind of bull in Arsenal’s china shop. He’s only had three red cards since 2004.
Arsenal have signed Kallstrom because Aaron Ramsey has suffered a six week set back a muscle injury which has kept him out for the last four weeks. The Welsh midfielder had been back to training and was even a consideration for Tuesday’s match until he was scratched off late. Wenger today revealed that Ramsey will miss 6 weeks.
Ramsey’s injury is a huge blow to both Arsenal and the player. The next eight weeks are packed with more booby traps than the trail to One-Eye’d Willie’s treasure. In six weeks Ramsey will miss Liverpool, Man U, Liverpool, Bayern, Sunderland, Stoke, and then either Swansea or the FA Cup quarter final and Bayern again.
If he’s lucky, he could be back in time for the North London derby which is followed by Chelsea, Man City, and if Arsenal progress, the first leg of the Champions League quarter final before basically finishing the season at Everton.
Meanwhile, Flamini will miss the next three matches for his two-footed lunge on Schneiderlin, and with Jack Wilshere suffering a bit the red zone niggle, Arsenal’s midfield is in dire need of a body. Any body. Which is a role that apparently, Wenger has pegged Kallstrom to fill.
It’s almost incredible that Arsenal are in need of midfield cover. If you asked anyone at the start of the season, the answer would have been either cover for Giroud or a fourth center back. Arsenal started the season stocked in midfield and added Özil to the mix bringing the number of world class midfielders at Arsenal to four (Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey, Özil). But injuries have taken their toll and now Wenger is turning to Kallstrom to bail Arsenal out. This will lead many Arsenal supporters to begin the annual keyboard march on Arsene Wenger in protest of: a) not having a deep enough squad b) playing too many players in the red zone c) £70m in the bank d) ticket prices e) the club relying on financial fair play f) where is our billionaire? g) kick greed out of football h) all of the above.
As for the positions folks wanted covered, Arsenal’s deal with Draxler is off because it was never on. Wenger stated this morning that the media made it all up. I’m inclined to believe him because the media do quite love to make things up. Just like that guy on twitter who gets 3/1000 predictions right and everyone thinks he’s “In The Know”.
Transfers, though, are important. They are the game within the game. The clubs fighting for the League title are all busy buying and selling for various reasons and at various abilities.
The money and players thrown around by Chelsea in the last week is incredible. The Blues have sold Mata and de Bruyne and brought in Matic and Salah. This strategy to sell talented players to rival clubs mid-season is a theme for them over the last two years: they sold Sturridge to Liverpool last January and that has made the Scousers much more competitive, just as Mata will do for Man U. They are also rumored to be adding to their incredible list of players on loan, buying Kurt Zouma for £12m and loaning him back to St. Ettienne.
Meanwhile, Man City’s strategy is to continue to spend unabated by the supposed constraints of Financial Fair Play, the 25 man rule, or any other rule which might put a damper on them. The Citizens have already spent almost £100m this season and look set to buy another £35m worth from Porto. In order to offset this spending, City announced the sale of some intellectual property worth £57m whilst announcing losses of £52m, down from the £98m in losses last year.
If the season is the play, then transfers are the play within the play, a device most famously used by Shakespeare in Hamlet. And as Hamlet said, “the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”. The conscience, then, of City is to accumulate at a rate unseen in football history; for Chelsea to do the same but also use the loan and sale system as a weapon of war; and for Arsenal to steer our ship into the eye of the Kallstrom.
How many goodly transfers are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such players in’t.