Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Transfer deadline incoming!
Plenty to write about after a busy Bank Holiday weekend, including my double bill at MK Dons and Watford, and the story of the week - the 8-2 thrashing Arsenal received at the hands of the reigning champions. But its about to get a whole lot busier with just under 36 hours left of the transfer window. With multiple clubs looking desperate to complete the makeup of their squad at this late stage, this is where the focus lies.
Clearly the game's most desperate character today is Arsene Wenger. Since the post published on 15/08 ('You Are What You Spend'), Wenger has signed two players for definite: young Costa Rican striker Joel Young and also
Park Chu-young, a striker from Monaco. However, this last deal hijacked a bid from Lille, who may now be too peturbed to let an agreement come to pass over Belgian winger Eden Hazard. Fenerbahce left back Andre Santos is also to join them for £6.2m, abandoning the troubled ship dealing with match fixing allegations. Great news for Everton who get to keep hold of Leighton Baines for the time being.
It was reported on Friday that Bolton had turned down a bid of £6m for Gary Cahill, apparently insulted by the offer. Wenger has refuted the quoted figure, but in any case, he would have to be a good deal more serious to convince Bolton to sell. It makes sense to start low in making offers, but Arsenal's dire need for a quality defender is obvious - they are far too thin on the ground to last the season and compete for the top four. Gartside doesn't need to sell, Arsenal must make an attractive offer to push this deal through. They might be looking at £12m minimum.
The current theory, however, is that Per Mertesacker is more likely to sign at around £8m. A little surprising actually, given that Mertesacker is not the most mobile. With him partnering Vermaelen though, we could be looking at a different Arsenal, certainly featuring a serious threat from corners, and with Koscielny another option, guarenteed height at the back and finally, at long last some serious defensive cover.
QPR have another kind of urgency. Despite being off the mark with their first win, it has been a shakey start to the season. There is clearly the need for improvement, and it seems quite feasabile that they can. With the Fernandes takeover, funds have been made available to Warnock, and he cleverly snapped up central midfielder Joey Barton. Rangers' physical presence in midfield has been reliant on one of Warnock's right hand men, Shaun Derry. Derry has a great engine on him and has signed a new contract today, but is aging and not greatly experienced at this level. Barton can provide for all of this, and add extra drive to create the chances QPR need. Initial reaction from onlookers had mostly addressed the famous personalities of Barton and Warnock, but it should work well. Barton is far more mature and professional now than he was three or four years ago, and a relentless drive to overcome odds and critics to succeed will be shared between them.
Luke Young from Villa should be another astute signing to shore up a defence in shock with more valuable experience. Warnock has declared a hunt for another 'four or five players at least', so expect to hear more news from Loftus Road by tomorrow. Who else could be on the shortlist? Surely Shaun Wright-Phillips is a potential target, being on the far end of City's conveyor belt of talent. His reserves teammate Roque Santa Cruz is out of the picture after sealing a loan move to Betis, but whether Craig Bellamy is a possibility is unclear. Certainly a player in need of a new home, but one has to wonder whether his joining forces with Barton and Warnock would be cramming too many giant personalities into little Loftus Road's home dressing room. Still, watch this space.
There is much more likely to happen. M'Vila to Arsenal? Possibly, certainly a central midfielder is required there. Benayoun and Malouda remain possibilities, if Chelsea are willing to sell, and another longshot is Mario Goetze. Arsenal are lodging massive bids for him, but Dortmund would need to be pushed an awful long way to sell a young star that made them such a great force last season.
Stoke are likely to be making positive moves (Palacios deal still on, Lukaku on loan more likely than Peter Crouch), Newcastle (Santon from Inter a great potential replacement for Enrique), perhaps Sunderland too (Papiss Demba Cisse from Freiburg for a brave £14m?). Tottenham are always, always active, and one of the latest wealth hotspots of Europe, Anzhi of Russia, might just throw a few spanners in the works - a £25m offer for Vidic has been rumoured!
Either way, keep your eye on this for the next day and a half!