Make no mistake, Alexis Sanchez is a fantastic footballer. One who has been coveted by the best teams in the world ever since he caught the eye with his performances for Udinese and the Chile national team prompting a move to Barcelona back in 2011. And it could be argued that Arsenal have seen the very best of that talent having signed him as a 25-year-old back in 2014. A haul of 80 goals in 165 appearances for the Gunners certainly backs up this claim.
July 2005. The month and year that Patrick Vieira left Arsenal to join Juventus. The deal was a reported £13.75m and left many Gunners’ fans in shock. The central lynchpin of the Invincible team had been cast aside with no replacement seemingly on the way.
For many, the Frenchman’s departure is a symbol of everything that followed for Arsenal over the next 12 years. A dominant, all-round midfielder who was a genuine leader. Gone. The Arsenal midfield hasn’t been the same since. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. To suggest Vieira was never replaced is a little misleading. In the last 12 years, Arsenal have had a selection of world-class midfielders, albeit of a different ilk from the towering Frenchman.
Gunners winger passed on his condolences to some loyal Arsenal supporters following the death of their child, whom they had named after the Arsenal star, Theo.
Traditionally, the January transfer window is a quiet time in terms of player trading, but all that can change when a major tournament is on the horizon. We’re heading into World Cup year and those who are on the fringes of their national squads are eager to get as much game time as possible in order to increase their chances of making the plane.
One of those players is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. Back to fitness after a catalogue of injuries, the midfielder continues to be overlooked by Gareth Southgate as younger, untried men are used in Wilshere’s preferred slot. A move away from the Emirates is a possibility but given Arsenal’s mixed start to the season, Arsene Wenger should really be looking to bring this considerable talent back into the fold.
It seems like the dust has only just settled on the ‘will they, won’t they’ speculation regarding Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leaving Arsenal in the summer. Yet, here were are less than two months before the January transfer window opens, and Arsenal fans are getting ready to jump back on the emotional rollercoaster ride.
Twenty-one years. Normally when you reach such a landmark there is nothing but celebration and enthusiasm for what the future may hold. It couldn’t be more different for Arsene Wenger, 21 years now at the helm of an Arsenal ship that is seemingly listing more as each season passes.
We are now a quarter of the way through the season and again the same patterns seem to be arising for the Frenchman. So how have the first two months of this campaign shaped up? What to make of the new signings at the club? Was he right to let Oxlade Chamberlain leave? And what of Sanchez and Ozil?
Even whilst Chelsea manager Antonio Conte tells press conferences that he remains confident with the situation at hand despite the season opener loss to Burnley in the Premier League, and the Italian says he is not worried about the lack of more signings this summer, Chelsea are doing everything in their power to land Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The defending champions have spent around £130 million to get four players so far this summer, but more players from the title-winning squad have left, and the 3-2 shock loss at Stamford Bridge increased the pressure for the manager to add players.
Despite Arsenal having some great success in the transfer window so far, it has lacked the impetus expected from Arsene Wenger in what could be his last couple of seasons at the Emirates. They signed Sead Kolasinac for free to shore-up the defence and left-back position and spent a club-record fee to bring in Alexandre Lacazette to finally give Arsenal a true striker.
Now, reports from Italy claim that the Gunners are in pursuit of one of Juventus’ prized centre-backs, Daniele Rugani. With Arsenal’s last two games showing Arsene Wenger utilising the three-at-the-back formation to great effect, defeating Chelsea in both of their last competitive matches to win two trophies, they could do with a centre-back who is more experienced in the role.
Juventus can’t afford to lose Rugani
Daniele Rugani has been in the Juventus system since February 2015, and the club has been moulding him into their next centre-back star. Having been blooded into the first team over the last couple of seasons, the Italian champions have effectively put their trust in Rugani for the upcoming campaign.
This comes after the huge-spending AC Milan managed to claw top centre-back Leonardo Bonucci away from Juventus and the champions decided not to sign a replacement following the transfer. They did get Medhi Benatia from Bayern Munich during the Kingsley Coman negotiations, but since Bonucci left, Juve haven’t signed and kept another centre-back.
This puts the 6’3’’ 23-year-old in a prime position to get a lot more game time, and that appears to be the way in which Juventus are going with him. So, losing him this late in the transfer window could be catastrophic to the team. Due to a fantastic summer of signings, AC Milan have closed in to 13/2 in the Serie A betting. Juventus are still clear favourites, but given the immense talent fluxed into AC Milan, perhaps the odds should reflect a closer race as the challengers certainly have the tools to have a good run at the title.
It’s hard to ignore both Juventus’ six-season winning streak of Serie A and the immense team that AC Milan have built, so this could make for the most competitive campaign for years, which Juventus will not want to be pulled into. Keeping their future star Daniele Rugani is a must if they wish to remain dominant, so they’re very unlikely to let him go.
Arsenal heading in the right direction
The fact that Arsenal are being linked to centre-backs, especially someone as talented and tactically-sound as Rugani, is a great sign and will hopefully bear fruit before the end of the transfer window. Unfortunately, however, it seems extremely unlikely that the Italian giants would let Ruagni leave – they simply need him too much this season.
Much of the other transfer talk surrounds attacking players such as Thomas Lemar, Lucas Moura, and Ousmane Dembele, most likely because of the Alexis Sanchez situation. But, if Arsene Wenger wants to continue down the three-at-the-back route, he will want to sign a central defender experienced with the tactical structure of the formation, instead of relying on full-backs to get the job done over the long season.
If the Gunners do end up getting Daniele Rugani, it would be a fantastic signing, but it looks rather unlikely at this point.
It looks like we’ll have a comletely transformed strike-force next season, with the press going wild with speculation and rumours!
Arsenal are reportedly close to completing the signature of Alexandre Lacazette from Olympique Lyon this summer. The 26-year old was a prime candidate to join Atletico Madrid but after the La Liga outfit lost their transfer ban appeal, things changed. Reports in England and France say the Gunners could complete the deal for Lacazette in the next 48 hours. Le Progress claims the French club president Jean-Michel Aulas has approved of the deal and it could be completed soon.
Another rumour of players joining the club (this time by Calciomercato) is that the Gunners are close to announcing the deal for Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez. The 26-year old Algerian had an underwhelming season at the club last year and seems intent on exiting the Kings Power Stadium this summer. The Gunners wanted him last year but he opted to remain with the Foxes after their fairy tale season.
As we approach the official start of the summer transfer window, all the talk at Arsenal seems to be concerning players who may leave the club. Both Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been linked with the exit door in recent days and it’s certainly true that Arsene needs to trim some of the deadwood at the Emirates as the 2017/18 campaign starts to appear over the horizon.
More importantly, the squad needs some fresh faces and that was clearly evident throughout a disappointing league season so who is in the frame at this stage?