NRM #5: Wenger Looks At Bundesliga Talent...And More
As the opening of the transfer window draws nearer, we are seeing a few persistent rumors gain prevalence in reports worldwide as players reflect back upon their recent season. It's World Cup year and every player will want to be in a position to impress his national coach so expect a lot of movement in the big name category. The question many Gooners will be wondering is where does Arsenal stand in the minds of these big names on the move? Well, the Gunners seem to be topping many wish lists.
The Gunners are looking to make a number of improvements this summer even with a reported £70m war chest Arsène Wenger is going to need to allocate his spending money wisely. Wenger may be best suited to buying one or two "big" name players and a few promising youngsters like Victor Wanyama as mentioned in last week's issue of NRM and it would seem this is his preferred direction.
Arsenal continues to be linked with numerous attackers but I think that Wenger may be better served by signing a few midfielders. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere played a few key parts throughout the season, but we need a bit more experience in midfield from players who still have plenty of youth n their legs. Players who fit the bill perfectly, and seem to be on Wenger's Bundesliga raid list, are Ilkay Gundogan of Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund and Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen.
Players of this calibre would be a welcome sight as Arsenal having seen a number of big names over the years and not receive better, or at the least equal, replacements. Without question there have been some amazing signings such as Santi Cazorla, who has really come into his own this past season, and excellent experienced signings like Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker, but overall Arsenal have seen a drop in quality and this is incredibly disheartening.
Experienced midfielders like Gundogan and Bender would see an increase in quality over any player they may replace and it seems fairly apparent that Wenger is courting both Bundesliga players. However, if he were to secure one he would probably switch his focus to signing players in other positions.
After missing out on Mario Götze to Bayern Munich, Wenger seems determined to sign a world class calibre player and both Gundogan and Bender fit the bill. Realistically, Wenger may find it easier to sign Bender as Dortmund look determined to keep hold of their players having lost Götze. And the fact that Real Madrid is reportedly also interested in Gundogan makes Bender the more realistic target. Bender, 24, has plenty of experience to his name having played numerous times for the German national team as well as becoming a mainstay in Leverkusen's starting XI. Bender features primarily as a defensive midfielder; however, he has great versatility in his game and has also been deployed to great effect in both the right back and right midfield positions. This versatility makes him the better signing as well as the more realistic as Arsenal may require additional bodies in all of those aforementioned positions next season.
And I know you're anxiously waiting to hear about some of the Wayne Rooney rumors, right? We're almost there but we have one more stop in Germany first.
Here goes nothing. Arsenal have also linked to none other than, you guessed it - yes, another unknown youngster, Matthias Ginter. Ginter, 19, currently plays for German side Freiburg and as John Cross reports from The Mirror, Arsenal are in hot pursuit of the defensive midfielder. Ginter has appeared mostly as a centre-back this past season for his club and could be an extra body in defence or even a replacement for Thomas Vermaelen should he depart the Emirates this summer.
Ginter is a defender in every essence of the word - he is solid in one versus one battles, and does not shy away from any tackles so making the move to centre-back permanently would not be difficult. Having played against some of the best talents the world has to offer in the German Bundesliga, the 19-year-old may be ready for a move to the Premier League and at 6'1" he's certainly a physical presence, something Arsenal could do with more of.
Although some may argue that Ginter is too young for a starting position with the Gunners and that Bender may be ready to step into the fold much more readily it's worth noting that Leverkusen may be reluctant to sell especially after qualifications to next terms Champions League.
Arsène likes a player who can play in midfield and defense and this 19-year-old fits the mould. He's also an incredibly natural footballer, with plenty of patience on the ball and could learn a lot from the established partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. With Squillaci being released and the future of Djourou uncertain bringing in additional defensive players could pay massive dividends moving forward.
No week would be complete without the presence of a Gonzalo Higuain rumor and this week he is reported as being desperate to leave Real Madrid and has given up on the idea of trying to continue his career there. Higuain could offer immediate support to the Arsenal front line and while the transfer looks imminent we shouldn't get our hopes up as he could end up in Qatar! I've seen stranger things happen in past transfer windows. At only 25, Higuain has plenty playing time left in his legs and could bring much needed additional firepower to help ease the burden on Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. Higuain is a "tiki-taka" type player with loads of confidence and plenty of strength on the ball. Gunner's fans worldwide should be chomping at the bit to have Wenger sign a player of his calibre. Just imagine the possibilities the combination of Higuain and our midfield maestro, Santi Cazorla, could create in all competitions next season.
When the transfer window flings open in July we can expect to see the Arsenal wish-list a little more clearly. At this point in the summer, nearly every piece of speculation is agent talk or general rubbish but in the coming weeks empty rumors will start to fade and the real stuff will start to come out.
Our final stop is in the Premier League and in the past few weeks Everton's Marouane Fellaini has popped up on the Arsenal radar and reportedly Arsenal want to sign both the Belgian and a sensational swoop for Wayne Rooney. How true either rumor is remains to be seen but the Rooney links can only be a good thing for Arsenal.
How disheartening would it be to United, how much of a blow, if Rooney went to Arsenal just as Robin van Persie left for Old Trafford? It would certainly make for a few interesting headlines.Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?
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Tags: Arsene Wenger, Wayne Rooney, David Villa, Gonzalo Higuain, Santi Cazorla, Matthias Ginter, Arsenal, Lars Bender