Arsenal fans the world over woke up this morning to some festive cheer. According to various reports the normally parsimonious Arsène Wenger is set to splash £70m to bring in World Class center forward Edinson Cavani and a much needed defensive midfielder/center back William Carvalho. And whether you believe the rumors are true or not it’s the kind of “news” that should bring a smile to your face.
Arsenal have been linked to Edinson Cavani now for a few years. Rumors first emerged that Arsenal were interested when his camp grumbled about leaving Napoli in 2012/2013. He scored an impressive 29 goals that season, and secured a big-money deal to play for the Oil Barons at Paris Saint-Germain.
There is no question about Cavani’s talent and industry. I retweeted a stat from Optajean today that “14 – Cavani has missed the most big chances of any player in Ligue Un.” And the stat is true. But so are all the other stats that Cavani has compiled in his career: between Napoli and PSG and just counting League and Champions League appearances (the top competitions) Cavani has scored 122 goals in 181 appearances. Even at PSG where he has been dubbed a “failure” and where he has been shunted off to the wing to make room for Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s ego, he is still a goal every other game player, scoring 32 in 62 appearances.
He’s not a target man center forward. He’s not winning you a lot of headers, less than 1 per game, but he does score goals with his head — had 6 headed goals in his best season at Napoli. He also doesn’t dribble a lot (less than 1 per game) and rarely picks out a teammate for an assist (just 15 assists since 2009). Also has twice as many yellow cards (34) as assists!
He’s also on £300,000 a week salary right now and would cost Arsenal somewhere in the range of £50m in transfer fees. Arsenal have spent lavishly in the last two years and the money is available for this kind of transfer. But years of conditioning by Wenger — saying that Arsenal don’t have money, that we don’t buy players we make them, and that a transfer like this would break the salary structure — have left me skeptical of these kinds of rumors.
Still, has a jaw like Bruce Campbell and I figure if we give him a chainsaw hand he could rip apart those teams that like to sit back in two banks of four.
In other news the William Carvalho rumor won’t go away with papers reporting that Arsenal are prepared to meet Sporting’s £20m valuation. The Daily Star has Arsenal literally on the verge of signing him.
Carvalho is a player, like Yann M’Vila, who has captured the imagination of Arsenal fans. By that I mean, most Arsenal fans have never seen him play and they have to imagine that he’s a £20m player.
In today’s press conference, Wenger said that Arsenal are prepared to buy a midfielder “if the right player comes along”. I have a friend who has a similar philosophy with women. He refuses to talk to women but, he says, if the right girl comes along he won’t pass up the chance. He’s been happily single our entire friendship and I have been miserably in love and trying hard to make square women fit into round pegs. Perhaps there is something to this philosophy.
Whenever Wenger makes this statement about “if the right player comes along” I can’t help but think that Wenger has a specific target in mind. Wenger is not a panic buy kind of manager, one time in 18 years is an anomaly. He is a patient man and willing to wait a year to get the players he wants at the price he wants. Cazorla is the prime example of Arsene’s buying philosophy — the Gunners let him go to Malaga for a season before buying him the next at a cut price when Malaga ran into financial trouble.
If Wenger is after Carvalho then he has a price in mind. If that price is £20m then I guess Carvalho will be a Gunner next month, because that’s the price Sporting reportedly want. If that price is less, ad Sporting won’t budge, then I guess Arsenal will use Coquelin for the remainder of the season.
Either way, I don’t see Arsene spending £70m in this transfer window. I’ve no reason to believe that, other than the conditioning I’ve received over years of January transfer windows, and the sound logic of my single friend who is still waiting for his Princess Charming.
Wait. I guess those are good reasons.
Here is a list of all the transfers Arsene Wenger has made since the January transfer window became a thing in 2002-03.
You’ll note that he’s really only splashed the cash three times. With the exception of the Reyes purchase in 2003-2004, the other two were times when Arsenal were in a bit of a crisis and faced “relegation” from the Champions League. Another odd thing is that I wouldn’t consider any of these players an unqualified success at Arsenal. At least not since they made the move. Henry and Campbell are legends and their contributions certainly helped keep Arsenal in the Champions League but they didn’t go on to have successful careers at Arsenal after these moves.
It’s easy to argue but I would say that the best three buys were probably Walcott, Adebayor, and… Henry. Other than that this is a list of busts.
Beware the Ides of January.