Hulk smash, Beckford class, Chamakh (something that rhymes with class)

Not a lot going on ahead of the FA Cup clash with Wet Hams. There isn’t anything concrete but the papers have linked us with a few folks today, you know, for a change.

First off, there’s all the guys that Arsenal aren’t signing, which if I had a dime for all the guys that were linked to Arsenal who we didn’t sign, I’d have enough money to pay off Iceland’s bank debts.

Today’s first “player who Arsenal aren’t signing” is Andre-Pierre Gignac. Meh… I mentioned that I didn’t think he was good enough when he was first mooted and now it’s being reported that Arsenal are saying that he’s not up to Arsenal’s high standards. Of course, I famously was wrong about Andrei Arshavin so, like I always say, “what the hell do I know?” Wenger’s transfer record is pretty fabulous so if he does sign Gignac, I will be ecstatic, though that’s looking very unlikely today.

Another player who Arsenal aren’t signing is Marouane Chamakh, though the player seems intent on keeping his name in the papers with all kinds of foolish talk about Arsenal “pressuring” him to sign. Gingers for Limpar has an interesting piece about how all this negative talk reminds him of the failed Adebayor experiment. I agree with Gingers, and suspect that after the way Adebayor left and the way Flamini treated us Wenger will be very cautious about signing a player who is so openly courting tons of clubs. And make no mistake, that’s what this is. This player is keeping his name in the papers by talking about how much Arsenal want him in order to drive up his value, his signing on bonus, and his weekly salary. He all but admits as much when he mentions Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton, Sunderland, Sevilla, and Milan all in the same breath.

The only player that today’s papers are linking Arsenal to is Porto’s Hulk. Hulk’s an interesting player and again, while I don’t think he’s up to Arsenal’s standard, “what the hell do I know?” I do think that he’s not a realistic January signing, he’s got a £100m release clause in his contract and irregardless the “source inside the club” who says that he could go for £20m, I have to think that the huge release clause gives Porto too much power. Arsene never likes paying over the odds for a player and that release clause could put him in a pickle.

One player who’s not being linked but who I thought reminded me a bit of Ian Wright (because he’s a great finisher and he’s come from relative obscurity to being linked to big clubs) is Jermaine Beckford. I just watched the FA Cup match between Leeds and United and Beckford did a decent job playing as a center forward and even got the winning goal. He’s tall, he scores tons of goals, he’s English, he’s got bags of pace, he’s mature, and his finishing showed real class today. All of which means Arsene will never sign him!

Right, that’s pretty much it for today. Got to get down to Doyle’s for the Arsenal FA Cup match and right after I’ve got our Sunday kickaround so, I won’t be back to defend myself for several hours. Have at me!

£40m for Jesus, £3m for Moses, and the Lord Wenger’s transfer kitty exposed?

L’Equipe is reporting that the Spanish press have put a £40m valuation on Arsenal midfielder and backup to the Lord Jesus Christ himself, Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal supporters are realistic, we know that one day Jesus will leave us and go back to his homeland. But on his current form, Cesc Fabregas is the best player in the Premier League and would command far more than £40m, if he was even for sale. Which he isn’t, nor does he want to leave, which makes Marca’s £40m valuation worth about as much as the toilet paper it’s printed on.

Speaking of crappy papers, (in it’s ongoing bid to supplant The Sun as The World’s Least Reliable News Source) is reporting that Inter Milan wants to sell Maicon to Manciti in order to have the money to make a cash plus Balotelli deal for Cesc.  I like this story for the sheer balls it took to print such utter fiction. Maybe it’s true that Inter wants Cesc, what team wouldn’t want Cesc? But to then jump to the conclusion that Cesc wants Inter and that Arsenal wants Balotelli and that Balotelli wants Arsenal and… I could go on.

Audacity I tell you, sheer audacity!

If he did leave this Summer (not gunna do it), how much would you value him at?

There is one other transfer story this morning, one with a little more legs; Victor Moses is potentially an Arsenal target after alerting everyone that Crystal Palace was late on his salary, again.

Let’s look at the facts: talented, young (19 y/o), African/English, bargain price (£3m for a talented English kid?), 5’9″ (read, SHORT), midfielder, speedy, currently plays in London.

I think that all adds up to an Arsenal player if I ever saw one. Wenger’s probably already placed the call.

One last intriguing wrinkle is that the Independent is reporting that Wenger has £30m+ at his disposal for incoming transfers. It’s not news that Wenger is often linked to some type of real or imagined transfer kitty, that happens every transfer window. What’s different is that the Independent is reporting that the board and the banks are explicitly setting aside a stash of money for Arsene to spend on transfers and wages.

The Independent quotes the “Latest Arsenal Annual Report on Page 14″ as saying:

All proceeds from player sale transactions are made available to Arsène Wenger for re-investment back into the development of the team.

The May 2009 report is the latest official report from the club and sure enough, the quote is there, albeit on page 15, not 14. Regardless the small error it is an interesting and valid point for the Independent to make and it does look like Wenger has some money to spend.

Of course, the board has all along maintained that Wenger has money to spend and Wenger has spent money where he felt necessary. Last season he brought in Andrei Arshavin which Wenger credits for keeping Arsenal in 4th place. So, you can rest assured that if he doesn’t think we have the parts to make a serious title challenge, and he can find someone to fit the bill, he’ll go out and get him, tout de suite.

Right, that’s all as far as Arsenal transfer news today. Enjoy the silence as Wenger engineers another master stroke!

What happened to the “magic of the cup?”

What happened to the “magic of the cup?”

Watching the Middlesbrough v. Manciti match with the cavernously empty Riverside stadium is actually depressing. I can sort of understand where Arsene Wenger is coming from when he talks about how English football is in serious financial trouble. When I first clicked the program on, I actually thought that maybe they were being forced to play behind closed doors.

I understand that this is the FA Cup and that Boro have had a bad season and that maybe Boro fans are tired but there are probably more Manciti fans at this game than Boro fans and that can’t bode well for the finances of this old club.

Credit to the Boro players who gave the Manciti multi-millionaires a real game, just a shame no Boro fans were there to see it.

The FA Cup has always been one of my favorite tournaments and it’s sort of odd to see so many clubs rotating so heavily this year. Man U is going to rotate heavily against old foes Leeds, City played a more weakened team today against Boro than they did in the Carling Cup against Arsenal, and expect to see Carling Cup or nearly Carling Cup sides for the rest of the top clubs.  Arsenal are the only ones who have a legit reason for so much rotation: injuries have hit Arsenal very hard this term and Arsene Wenger has to be looking forward to the game against Bolton on Wednesday. The much talked about “Arsenal game in hand” which could see Arsenal rocket to 2nd place in the league just 1 point off league leaders Chelsea.

Maybe that’s the point. It seems like the financial incentive of a 4th place finish and thus Champions League football is driving the decision to rotate so heavily. After all, FA Cup matches are scheduled in such a way that teams could be playing their first team if they wanted. So, something is driving this rotation and if it isn’t the two leagues then what is it?