For the last couple of years, as the “cheap replacements for the invincibles” were realized to be just that, there has been a cry from outside the club to “get rid of the deadwood”. When money became a serious issue for the club, we tried out a few players to fill in gaps – these were up and coming players who – if they fulfilled in their potential could have been greats. With every youth system and every trial with younger players, some work, some don’t. At Barcelona, for every Messi, there is a Giovanni Dos Santos. For us, for every Wilshere, there is a Denilson. Some work, some don’t.
For a moment in time, when we’d signed Vela, Bendtner, Denilson, Diaby, Djourou and Walcott, things looked very exciting – they all came on the scene and showed sparks of what they could be – in fact they were our amazing Carling Cup team that everyone called for to be play instead of the first team regulars. But form is temporary and class is permanent and with the exception of Walcott, none of the above have got anywhere near making it.
But, in the last few years, they could have all been amazing and who was to say 5 years ago that they would all fail at the last hurdle. Where we are now, with the recent departures is a clean(ish) sheet and where we can go is determined by our new team, not by our old team. This summer, there has been another concerted effort to move out the dead wood and bring in new players. Let’s take a look at who could be leaving this summer:
Chamakh, Fiorentina, £4m
Maroune had an excellent start to his Arsenal career, but unfortunately for him, his stint at the Arsenal coincided with Van Persie’s greatest ever season. What this has meant for the Moroccan, is that he hasn’t had much game time at all. He’s not quite the player we all thought his was before he joined and to be honest, he’s not the player that the papers make out he is. He’s a decent footballer who found himself at the wrong club at the wrong time. His off the field antics leave much to be desired too. He could have offered us something, but Arsene complete and public lack of faith meant the player had his days numbered. Rumours that Fiorentina have made a £4m bid could be off the mark, but in some circles, the quotes are attributed to Sir Arsene Wenger himself… so maybe there is an element of truth in there somewhere.
Denilson, 12 month loan to Sao Paulo
Denilson has already joined Sao Paulo on another years loan. This was most likely due to the South American team agreeing to pay the boy’s obscene wages, which I’m told not many other clubs have got anywhere near doing. We did try to sell him to other clubs and we tried to make the move to Sao Paulo permanent, but with only one club interested, it’s not an easy deal to do. Apparently, we do have a clause in his new loan contract allowing us to sell him to another club if they do become interested. It’s a shame that we can’t shift him off our books permanently, but who knows, if he has a good season, maybe someone will come in for him.
Vela, £6m to Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad want to pay less, but we want more. However, they want the player and for that reason, the Arsenal board and trying their best to get a decent amount for him. He’s young and had a decent season last year, so if Sociedad want him and are serious in their offer, then we could see him permanently transferred to the Spanish outfit in the next week or so. Only 3 league starts in 7 years means that he’s a definite failure at the Arsenal, but in his Carling Cup runs, he has shown that there is a decent amount of ability somewhere in the Mexican.
Bendtner, £8m to Schalke
Niklas Bendtner, ahem, the world’s greatest striker has really struggled to win over the fans and the manager. He spent last season on loan to Sunderland where he underwhelmed massively. A slightly better end to the season and a decent Euro outing has supposedly made several “big European clubs” interested in his services. As things stand, he’s still on our books, but Shalke are rumoured to be the only club who have actually talked to us about the striker. He does seem like he would be suited to the German league, let’s see what offers come in for him over the next few weeks.
Squillaci to Bastia (free)
If newly promoted Bastia can afford the Frenchman wages, then I hear that we’re happy to end his contract and allow him to move to them for free. Considering we forked out £5m for the player 2 years ago, surely this can only be classified as an epic fail. You win some, you lose some, and looking back at it, he was brought in as a 4th or 5th choice centre back. Injuries to Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Mertersacker saw him play much more than we wanted to – and unfortunately for us, it was an expensive arrangement. Talks are ongoing, but I don’t expect him to be playing at the Arsenal next season.
Manuel Almunia was eventually released by the club this summer and as I was saying at the beginning of the article, a cheap replacement for an invincible in Jens Lehmann, never quite made the grade and eventually was let go on a free. Let’s hope this is the end of the cheap replacements and the start of a new era.
If we can get rid of these player who despite being on our books will most likely never play for the Arsenal again, then we will really help our transfer and wage budget going into the new season. We’ll see what happens, as you can never say never in football.
The season has officially started, with Andre Santos the first back to training, and having not been told about Benayoun’s loan end, you think he’ll probably be surprised not to see Van Persie, but instead to see Podolski and Giroud. It’s going to be an interesting summer and pre-season. Let’s hope we sort things out sooner than later.