By Richard Popple
Bacary Sagna’s recent interview hits at every Arsenal fan’s worst fears…the club currently don’t look like challenging for the premiership next season. Sagna also hinted that losing Hleb would not be such a blow as the possible departure of Adebayor. The Togo striker has said some very intriguing things this summer, but as always with the British press, it is hard to gauge how much is the truth. So with Hleb’s transfer to Barcelona imminent (well it wouldn’t be the summer if at least one Arsenal player didn’t move to the Catalan giants), it looks as if AW will be using the funds to generate a deal for reportedly Andrei Arshavin.
Arshavin has been built up hugely by the media after his performances in Euro 2008. His current club, Zenit also seem to have gotten a little carried away by it all, having slapped a 24m price tag on his head! Surely AW will not spend anywhere near that much money on a 27 year old who has yet to play in one of Europe’s biggest leagues? Well maybe, just maybe, the gaffer is realising that his current Arsenal squad is simply not strong enough to challenge the wealth of Chelsea or Manchester United. Wenger knows that some fans are starting to get frustrated not only by the lack of trophies, but by his stubbornness to buy potential rather than established talents. I myself am very sceptical that a deal for Arshavin will take place. It would simply be a complete policy change from Wenger and nothing over the last 12 years of his management suggests that he is ready to throw in his morals and opt to take on the big boys by investing as heavily.
It remains very interesting however that AW is waiting until after Hleb’s proposed move has been completed, before he himself announces any transfers or indeed completes any. Sagna also mentioned in his interview that Samir Nasri is still expected to complete his move to the club, which I expect would be announced early next week after Hleb’s departure. I should also mention Gilberto Silva, who looks like he is on his way out of the club. Flamini has already left and now his first choice back-up looks set to leave. I personally don’t think Wenger will bring in a defensive midfielder, but in Gilberto he will also loose another defensive option as the Brazilian as often played centre half for the Gunners. This worries me greatly and has always been my own personal barb with Wenger. He consistently seems to neglect improving our defence. It is fairly evident that we need further options at the back, if anything to keep those in the team on their toes. I think our lack of defensive options could ultimately be our downfall next year if we don’t improve them over the next two months.
So will Andrei Arshavin be an Arsenal player next season? I for one doubt it, but then I am still waiting for the signings that will reassure the fans (something Wenger mentioned in May before Euro 2008). Signing Arshavin would certainly reassure me that the club are intent on challenging next season. Letting Flamini, Hleb, Lehmann, Gilberto and possibly Adebayor go, makes me worry that our glory years under Wenger are a thing of the past and that we have become, as Le Professor said, ‘a selling club’.