Thursday, 5 January 2012

News on Walcott's contract plus transfer targets Sow and Granero

More transfer news today in most of the UK's major papers as long term targets Granero and Sow have been linked with transfers.

Sow had a fine season and helped Lille to the French Ligue Un title last year. In the process he formed a great partnership with current Arsenal winger Gervinho, as well as other long standing target Eden Hazard. During that brilliant season he scored 25 goals and assisted 3, a remarkable record in any league. This season he has been in decent form with 6 goals and 3 more assists in his 18 appearances.

The Senegalese International is versatile and can play out wide as well as down the middle. His main qualities are his pace and finishing, whilst he also like to dribble and cut inside onto his preferred foot. At 180cm he is more than capable of facing up to the physical battle of the Premier League, and has featured in a similar formation to ours over the last few years.

Today, as we look to widen our forward options, apparently Arsenal have stepped up their interest in the 25 year old forward. But in the same article, so to have our North London rivals. Sow is said to welcome the opportunity of linking up with his former teammate Gervinho and last month said:

"I have a contract signed until June 2013 and Lille want me to sign another one but the negotiations have stopped. I don't accept the conditions or the silence from the club."

He also talked of a possible move the the Premier league, and mentioned Arsenal as a possible destination:

"My dream is to play in the Premier League because you progress as a player with the atmosphere, goals and game. I watch the games with envy on TV. I desire to play there one day. Arsenal are a big club but we will see."
Sow is a quality striker, although the likelihood of him joining this January is probably low, especially with his jetting off the the African Nations Cup for a few months. His price tag is meant to be close to £20 million so he is probably just out of our price range too.

Esteban Granero of Real Madrid has also been linked with Arsenal for a while. He is very much an Arsenal player and is currently out of favour at Real having only made 3 substitute appearances for Mourinho's side. This is definitely possible, whether on loan or a permanent transfer which is believed to be in the region of 5-10 million pounds. Blackburn and Qatari owned Malaga are also said to be looking at the Spaniard.

He is a versatile midfielder who can play in wide positions as well as in the defensive or attacking roles in midfield. His strengths are his cultured passing and shooting, and he would be a great addition to our depleted squad. Granero was very successful at Getafe and earned a big move to Madrid, who exercised their buy back clause of 4 million euros. In his first two seasons, he was a regular for Real with 36 appearances in 2009-10 and 32 in 2010-11. 

The main issues are whether Wenger is planning on promoting our younger players into the squad, as at 24 Granero could easily halt the development of some players. Also, if we are in the Gotze, Hazard or Marvin Martin at the end of the season he may want to wait until then. Moreover, it is very probable that the boss will see Wilshere's return at the end of January as a reason not to strengthen in midfield.

Never say never though.

In possibly the biggest news today, we have begun talks with Theo Walcott over a new contract. Theo is in the same position as Van Persie in that his contract expires at the end of next season. He has been linked on numerous occasions with moves to Chelsea (who made an enquiry this summer) and teams from Italy.

However, the preliminary talks are said to have gone very well between Walcott's representatives and Arsenal's chief contract negotiator Dick Laws. He is very happy at Arsenal and just this week has spoken about the positive mood in the Arsenal camp:

“The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic — the best it’s probably been for a long time, we are a bit more of a team, we work harder when we haven’t got the ball.”

A possible stumbling block has been the demands from Theo's camp, who are looking to secure in excess of 100k/week, a 40k increase on his current salary. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will break their currently strict wage structure in order to keep their key players like Walcott (and more importantly Van Persie) at the club.

Moreover, despite starting the season in sizzling form, recently his form has dipped dramatically. As we enter the new year in a tricky position, and at a key part in the season without Gervinho for a few months, Theo needs to up his game which has seen him score 4 goals and set up 5 assists this season.

Does he deserve 100k/week? Well his consistency is still almost non-existent so no. But he needs to earn that money and an upturn in his form could see him easily offered sums around 70-80k/week. Another thing to consider is that can we afford to lose another key player this summer, especially with all the talk surrounding Van Persie's situation. The answer to that is probably no, which does put Theo in a strong position regarding negotiations.

Apparently contract negotiations are set to halt as we looks to add new talent to our depleted squad this January. but we can definitely expect to hear more on this story in the next few weeks and months.

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