Monday, 28 May 2012

Yann M'Vila - Arsenal Transfer Target

M'Vila is one of the most sought after players in Europe right now, and Arsenal are lucky enough to be in the driving seat for his transfer, with the latest odds saying he is 1/11 on to join Arsenal this summer. Here is everything you need to know about the 21 year old.

Yann has been outstanding since he broke into the Rennes first team in the 09/10 season. He quickly established himself as one of the leagues brightest talents, becoming an ever present in the team. 

M'Vila first made a name for himself in the Rennes youth team, after being scouted playing for Paris based FC Mantes. He quickly established himself in the youth team side, alongside somewhat of a golden generation for the side in Damien Le Tallec,  Yohann Lasimant, Abdoul Camara, and Yacine Brahimi. With M'Vila leading the midfield, the academy won the 2008 Coupe Gambardella, the equivalent to the French Youth Cup.

The excellent displays in the academy and reserve team at Rennes earned M'Vila - originally of Congolese descent - a call up to the French u-16 side and he went on to feature in every age group, captaining the under 18's at one stage.

M'vila suffered criticism from his manager at Rennes, Guy Lacombe, as he was developing and was not given a chance in the first team squad until the arrival of Frederic Antonetti as manager in 2009. After breaking into the side, M'Vila was virtually an ever present for the rest of the season.

Unfortunately for the young midfielder, he missed out on the 2010 French World Cup squad, but he has been an essential part of the team since its collapse in that tournament. He made his debut shortly afterwards in the game against Norway, and under the new manager, Laurent Blanc, he has become an ever present in the new-look French national team.

As the 21 year old developed his talent in the national side, he also continued his excellent club form in the 2010/11 season, making the most attempted and completed passes out of any midfielder in the division. It was clear now that he was not just a talentless anchoring midfielder, but an exceptional passer of the ball and capable of succeeding at the very highest level. This has earned him very appreciated comparisons with former French internationals, Claude Makélélé  and Patrick Vieira. In fact, Marcel Desailly described the midfielder as having the talent to be "better than Patrick Vieira" in an interview earlier this year. High praise indeed for a player yet to make a major impression on the world stage, but that just shows what a talent Yann is.

The towering 6ft midfielder's fine performances earned Stade Rennais an appearance in the Europa League last season, and Yann made his debut in the competition. He also captained the side for the first time against Nancy on 15th September 2011, highlighting that despite being young, he has acquired leadership skills. M'Vila secured Stade Rennais a 6th place finish in Ligue Un this year. In his 38 appearances he created 2 goals, whilst he also made 111 tackles - the fourth highest in the league - and 91 interceptions this term which highlights the solidity he brings to the side.

After making his debut in August 2010, M'Vila now has 18 caps to his name and has scored one goal for his country against Albania. Perhaps his greatest international performance was against Luxembourg, where he completed 92.5% of his 134 passes, the best rate for any French player since 2006. He has already been named in the squad by Blanc, and is surely destined to start for the French side in Euro 2012.

He would be a perfect signing for Arsenal in helping to solidify the defence. Yann has a great work rate and is a well-timed tackler, which has meant he is a very disciplined player. He is also very mature for a player of his age. Whilst his positioning is sometimes suspect for a holding midfielder, he has definitely stopped trying to be the attacking play-maker for his side, and is now more of a deep-lying player, composing the attacks and dictating the tempo. His role could develop into something similar to Claude Makélélé, as well as Pep Guardiola's role at Barcelona.

Criticism has existed over M'Vila having a bad attitude, and he recently spent a night in jail after allegedly punching a teenager on a night out. However, he is also seen as a very calm and relaxed person who spends most of his time with his wife and 2 children.

Having being scouted by Madrid, Munich and Man Utd, the 21 year old is well reagarded accross Eurpoe and is recognised as one of the greatest midfield talents in the world. Another quote from the Rennes manager is that he "reads the game like Makélélé, has the presence of Vieira and can pass the ball like Yaya Toure." If he can become as good as any of those players, he will have had an exceptional career, but he has the chance to eclipse them according to Marcel Desailly who declared that "you will see he is the best midfielder", He also stated that any ambitious side should break the bank for his signature.

Talks are rumoured to have started between Arsenal and Stade Rennais over M'Vila's transfer, with some stating that a deal has already being agreed. M'Vila is certainly poised to leave Rennes this summer, and has spoken of a desire to play in the Premier League before. Just this weekend his international teammate Bacary Sagna gave his views on a possible transfer to the Gunners saying "M'Vila can make a great impact. I'm not sure about his English but it took me time to learn. But I think he would suit us as well. Arsenal is a French-speaking team and it will help him settle."

Hopefully a deal can be agreed soon, although it seems any transfer is unlikely to happen until after the European Championships now.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Transfer news on Dempsey, Giroud & M'Vila

Not the most news has emerged from Arsenal in recent days. With the international scene starting to take centre stage, it is not highly unlikely that any players that will feature in Euro2012 will be signed or sold before the tournament. However, I doubt this will stop the endless stories on Hazard, Kagawa, Van Persie and M'Vila devouring our minds.

In other transfer news, the Fulham attacking midfielder Clint Dempsey has highlighted his desire to leave Fulham and play in the Champions League next season. We are just a number of clubs linked with the 29 year old, but there are few others in the Premier League.

The London connection, which may mean he won't have to move house, as well as the need to bolster our squad with an experienced, consistent, versatile midfielder to our squad could mean than we are very likely to make an offer for the American. His determination is clear in his comments, and would definitely help the make up of our squad. He said to Sports Illustrated:

"I want to play in Champions League. I want to play at the highest level possible.
I want to do as much as I can and look back and say I made the most of all the opportunities I’ve had."

In other news, the latest striker Arsenal are targetting is Ligue Un top-scorer and title winner Olivier Giroud, who has had an exceptional season for surprise title winners Montpellier. The 25 year old striker scored 25 goals this season and looks certain to move on and challenge himself at the highest level, but whether he leaves this summer remains to be seen, especially since he would not be a guaranteed starter for us.

A proposed enquiry has been made about the tall 25 year old, who has 3 caps. His release clause is at 16million euros, but it seems Arsenal are prepared to table a bid of 8 million euros + Chamakh. Any bid which involves getting rid of the Moroccan seems like good business to me, but with his wages about 4 times larger than any Montpellier player there may be a stumbling block down the line.

Overall he'd be a good back up signing, especially since we have missed out on Matias Suarez, whilst it remains to be seen whether Joel Campbell will secure a work permit.

Another Transfer rumour has picked up steam over the last 24 hours is over the holding midfielder Yann M'vila, who is on the verge of leaving Rennes this summer. The 22 year old has been heavily linked with us recently, with some claiming that the transfer was almost complete. Yer right now it seems unsure as to whether he'll sign before the Euro's. Speaking about the rumour, Sagna said:
“M’Vila can make a great impact. I’m not sure about his English but it took me time to learn. But I think he would suit us as well. Arsenal is a French-speaking team and it will help him settle."
M'vila would be a brilliant addition to the midfield, giving us a secure cover for the defence. Let's hope he does sign. Sagna this morning tweeted that Arsenal were not on the verge of signing M'Vila, but the other players Bacary has talked about before them signing have been Gervinho and Chamakh, which could show that talks are developing between us and Rennes.

The Frenchman spoke himself about a possible transfer but said that nothing will happen until after the European Championship, he told RMC Sport:

"I think my future will be resolved after Euro 2012, I do not think about it. I am only thinking about the France team. If I have to sign in August, I will. The France team comes first.”

Sagna, who is continuing his recovery from his broken leg picked up against Norwich, also spoke about the captain situation saying he hopes to play with Robin next season, which I'm sure is something we all want to see. The right back said:

“I’m confident Robin will stay. He was a complete professional from the beginning until the end and helped us into third.  We want to keep him. Everyone is so grateful to him for what he’s done for the club and how important he is."

The thing is whether Robin will be here next season isn't really up to him, as we are well within our right to hold on to him till the end of his contract. Preferably we would like him to sign, but if he doesn't sign a new contract we may well see Robin playing next season.

Lastly, it seems like Chamberlain is going to make his England debut at some stage tonight at the tender age of 18. He has really excelled in his development since signing for us last summer, and is destined to have a long illustrious career for both club and country. Speaking about his involvement in the Euro's he seems eager to learn from the experience players around him:

“Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are players I’ve been watching for years and idolise. I’ve got great respect for all of them and to have the opportunity to be with them, train with them and learn from them is something I’m really looking forward to, There’s so much experience in that team so it would be an added bonus to play a few games.”

Alex seems as level headed as any player at his age, and will hopefully only take out good experiences from his involvement with the national team.

Anyway, That is all, more news to follow.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Goal of the Season - videos

Goal of the Season 2011/12.

Arsenal have a history of scoring great goals, and this season we scored a grand total of 94 in all competitions, with 37 coming from a certain Dutchman.

Here are 5 of the best, you can vote for your favourite on the poll in the right.

A. Robin van Persie vs Everton. 10th December 2011.

B. Thierry Henry vs Leeds United. 9th January 2012.

C. Robin van Persie vs Tottenham Hotspur. 26th February 2012.

Hard to find full highlights, so enjoy the whole match highlights again.

D. Robin van Persie vs Liverpool. 3rd March 2012.

E. Mikel Arteta vs Aston Villa. 24th March 2012.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Five PL players to ponder

A long summer in stall for the Frenchman

Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's transfer approach has mainly been centrered around recruiting players outside of the Premier League, where the transfer fees can be easily distorted. This mainly stems from the failed summers of 2000 and 2001 where Wenger splashed out a total £11million on Jeffers and Richard Wright, which did not end up being great value. Instead our main shopping ground has been in France, whilst recently we have been looking at Germany and Holland to buy players that can become Europe's best.

But last summer, an awful summer by any stretch of the imagination, Arsene slightly changed his policy. Signing the experienced Spaniard Mikel Arteta from Everton. Arteta instantly fitted into the Arsenal side, becoming an integral cog in the fluid attacking machine that makes up Arsenal; in fact until the last day of the season, we had yet to win a match without Arteta in the side.

With another long summer of transfers set to begin, will Arsene revisit the Premier League for more talent this summer? Here are 5 top targets he could go for:

Clint Dempsey - Dempsey is clearly a great talent. The American has been in stunning form over the last few years, and I've been somewhat surprised that a bigger club hasn't picked him up already. This season has seen the Texan go into another gear though, with an amazing 17 goals and 6 assists, and it seems that he is destined to leave Craven Cottage this season for pastures new.

His versatility would be very helpful in bolstering our squad, as Benayoun looks set to depart after concluding his loan deal. Dempsey is equally capable on the left or right of midfield, with his deceptive pace and ability to beat players, cut in and shoot or put a cross into the box, he certainly seems to have everything in his locker. He can also play centrally as he has done for Fulham in recent seasons, both upfront and in midfield. His finishing is as good as any of our wide men, whilst he is also capable of scoring from dead ball situations too.

Having signed a contract until 2013, he is in a similar position to Van Persie, although apparently talks have stalled with the former New England Revolution player. If we were to bid for him, the price should be around 10 million pounds as outlined by the Daily Mail. Is it worth a pounce for a 29 year old who has never played in the Champions League? His contract demands shouldn't be over 60-65k/week, which fits in with our current wage system, but with other teams lining up bids will he be able to get more game time elsewhere.

Overall he'd be a great signing to back up our squad if we want to produce a title challenge, his determination has made him one of the best players outside the top 6, and probably the best if you take Liverpool out of the equation. I'd love to have him, but we may have our eyes on other talents this summer.

Rumour rating 7/10

Moussa Dembele - Next on the list is another attacking Fulham player. This time the 24 Year old Belgian Moussa Dembele. It is fair to say he did not made an instant impact in the PL but his technical ability was always on show.

Like Dempsey he has really improved this season, and has contributed to Fulham rising to 9th place with 2 Goals. Similarly he is quite versatile too, playing down the middle of the forward line, as well as either side of midfield, being able to launch left footed strikes in at goal from all over the pitch, as well as lay on 2 assists for his team-mates. This season he has played more than a dozen times in central midfield, and has improved the defensive aspect of his game significantly. He is 5 years younger than his American teammate and is part of a Belgian squad that has a lot of potential to make a big impact internationally in the next few years.

Having signed only 2 years ago for 5 million he would not come cheap. But would represent value for money in the long term.  The Belgian has attracted interest from Manchester United, who may be set to make a £10 million bid, yet Arsenal are also monitoring him and may rival United if any movement is made.

Overall, likewise to his Fulham team-mate he would be a good addition. Not a stellar signing like Hazard or Podolski, but someone who is proven at Premier League level and can fill in for the side in a number of positions. He would be expected to raise his contribution in terms of goals and assists though.

Rumour rating 6/10

Gylfi Sigurdsson - The ex-Reading midfielder has been a stunning signing in January by Swansea. He complimented their beautiful attacking football, and weighed in with an extremely impressive goal tally of 7 in 18 appearances. It is no wonder that Brendan Rodgers is keen to secure his services permanently next season, but it may be out of his hands if Arsenal want to bid for him.

The Icelandic struggled for Hoffenheim in Germany this season, but settled in easily in the Premier League. His passing style at Swansea would very much suit Arsenal's attacking style, whilst Wenger is a known admirer of the 22 year old. He even managed 3 assists during his time at Swansea with a pass success rate of 84.5%.

Unlike the other players, Gylfi is not versatile but he will certainly add depth to the central midfield position, whilst his eye for a goal may single himself out form the rest of the competition. He is also a dead ball expert which is something Arsenal are lacking, and could enable our talismanic captain to score more from set pieces.

Having signed for Hoffenheim for over £6 million, and being their player of the season for 2010/11, it is likely that they would wish to at least recoup what they paid for the 22 year old, especially after his good performances for Swansea.

Overall he would be a good signing, but there is a lot of competition in central midfield already at Arsenal. I think a return to Swansea is probably the most likely destination for him, but dont expect to see this rumour disappear as Wenger is a strong admirer of the Icelandic international.

Rumour Rating 5.5/10

Stephane Sessegnon - The mercurial attacking front man gave some stellar performances for Sunderland this season, his rise to form coinciding with the arrival of Martin O'Neil to the North East club. He was quite slow in adapting to the rigours of the Premier League, but his talent is surely regarded as up there with the best after this season.

The Benin international has exceptional technical ability, and we have seen him develop his strength to suit the toughness of the Premier League. At 27 years old he is certainly in his prime, and that showed through his 7 goals  in the league, equalling his highest tally of his career. The Sunderland forward has great pace too, whilst his passing is superb, shown the the 9 assists he has this season.

He is very versatile too, playing in a number of positions this year, when Steve Bruce signed him he gave some stunning praise, describing his as a player who "can play on the left, on the right, through the middle – he's lightning quick and he's a match-winner". He probably favours playing behind a front man, but at Arsenal he could take up a similar position to Nasri did previously, or Arshavin on the left; being an attacking midfielder played out wide, an integral position in the modern game.

Stephane would probably be the most expensive out of all 5 players described. He signed 18 months ago for 6 million pounds, and his contract doesn't expire till 2014, which means he would probably be priced at at least £15 million. But he is a quality player.

Overall Sessegnon is a great player, something we found out when we played Sunderland this year, and he would be a quality addition to the squad as we look to strengthen the side and possibly mount a title challenge. He is quite unlikely to leave the North East though as he seems very happy under O'Neil.

Rumour Rating 5/10

Junior Hoilett - Playing for recently relegated Blackburn, Junior Hoilett has been one of the only shining lights for the North West club in the past few years. The Canadian has come up with some stunning and integral goals which could have helped keep up Rovers.

His pace is extraordinary, and at only 21 he is in no danger of losing it any-time soon. He is also an excellent dribbler and pops up anywhere around the pitch, very much suiting the Arsenal style of play. Hoilett has amassed an impressive 7 goals and 5 assists this season, in a very poor Blackburn side and you'd expect he could get much better stats at a club like Arsenal. 

Yet there are some negative aspects of his game. He tends to drift in and out of matches quite easily, and shoots from all angles with many of his efforts ending up right at the back of the stand in row Z. Similarly his crossing is no better than the options we have at the club, which makes it pretty poor to be honest.

The Canadian is available for a nominal fee since his contract is about to expire, which is much cheaper than any of the other options and may endear him to Arsenal's scouting team. He is also unlikely to demand high wages, so could turn out to be a very shrewd acquisition. We would definitely have to fight for his signing with many teams interested in him, including Tottenham and Newcastle.

Overall, preferably I'd like to see Dempsey or Dembele join us as they are closer to the finished article and seem to have a more rounded game than the 21 year old. Yet the fact that he is available on the cheap may convince us to pounce for him, especially as we may not have much left in the bank if other rumours are to be believed.

Rumour Rating 6.5/10

In conclusion, all 5 of these targets would be viable transfer targets for us this summer. Sessegnon and Dempsey in particular have had stellar seasons and would give us versatility and quality for a reasonable price. Dembele and Sigurdsson are also very attractive, playing centrally in midfield and still getting and creating goals. Sigurdsson probably just edges it for me, and may be a cheaper option the the Belgian, as well as being younger. Lastly Hoilett may well be the most likely transfer. In my eyes he is not as good as the other 4 players here, but he is available very cheaply and could add depth to our squad that we need.

It just shows you dont have to shop in other leagues to find exceptional talent. But if we are more concentrated in recruiting players like Podolski, Kagawa and M'vila, I don't care where Arsene spends his cash.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sol Campbell - Legend.

Legend is a word often overused in football. But in regards to Sol Campbell there is little else to describe a man who has achieved so much.

Two league titles, Four FA cups, 73 England Caps, England captain, Champions League final scorer, and many more achievements encompass an outstanding career that sadly came to an official end yesterday. For me he is the greatest defender to play in the Premier League.

Announcing his retirement, Sol said it was "hard to let go, especially when you have been a top sportsman".

He reiterated that despite 409 days since his last game, the decision wasn't easy, 'To say that I am not going to play professional football again is difficult because I've had a long time at the top and I've put in a lot of work and it's taken a lot of dedication."

Strong in the tackle, imperious in the air, Campbell had many amazing traits to his play. Perhaps the best was his athleticism; noone ever got the better of Campbell in a one on one. His 6ft 2in frame gave him his ox-like strength, and a background to challenge for every ball, and win. Even his reading was fantastic, and led to countless Maldini-esque interceptions throughout his career. During his time at Arsenal he forged partnerships with different defenders, yet most notably the back four of Lauren, Toure Campbell and Cole which provided the base for the greatest club achievement in Britain in the modern era.

Campbell, born to Jamaican parents was always obsessed with football, he found it hard to release his character, but as he says, "my expression was football." After signing for Tottenham he quickly rose through the ranks and into the first team, making his Premier League debut at the blossoming age of 18. His exceptional ability shone through the cracks of a struggling Tottenham side - Sol never finished higher than 7th during his time at Spurs - but even after being made captain, it was clear that Campbell had to move on.

What amazed everyone was where he moved. The move down the road to Arsenal, Tottenham's greatest rivals, showed amazing courage and belief that Campbell represents. It may not be the most loyal thing to have done, particularly after stating in the official Tottenham magazine that he would never do such a thing, but a double, two other FA cups, and the invincibles season which came in the middle of a 49 unbeaten run is exactly why he made the move.

After winning the double in his first season with the Gunners, he went into the 2002 World Cup with England and was voted in the best team of the tournament, signifying his ability to shine on the biggest stage, and the recognition of his exceptional defensive abilities from around the world. 2003 brought an FA cup to the trophy cabinet, but a disappointing league run-in saw Arsenal pipped to the title by Manchester United. But in the final two games of the season, Arsenal and Sol Campbell started a journey that few - if any - had thought possible.

Arsenal were the best team in the world in 2003/4. Going the 38 match season unbeaten scoring  goals and playing with exceptional attacking flair and beauty is unthinkable, but they had the quality to achieve it. Campbell helped provide the solidity and bite in defence, as well as chipping in with the occasional goal. Arsenal actually secured the point they needed to win the title at White Hart Lane against Campbell's former club, the title was Sol's second during his 3 years at Arsenal, equalling the two won by Spurs in their history. 

The unbeaten run went into the next season, and much of the Arsenal squad simply forgot what it felt to lose a game. It was this winning attitude, which brought so much success to the team. After 49 games Arsenal finally lost, after Rooney dived over Sol's leg to earn a penalty and secure a 2-1 win for United at Old Trafford. The squad was dismantled far to quickly in the years afterwards.

Sol kept up his record of winning a trophy in each of his seasons at the club, with another FA cup medal in 2005. Yet the "unbeaten" aspect of Arsenal was slowly fading away, and the Gunners only scraped 4th place the following year, pipping Tottenham in the last game of the season. In what turned out to be Campbell's last game for Arsenal (in his first spell) Arsenal faced Barcelona in the Champions League final. Yet again rising to the occasion, Sol gave Arsenal the lead. A powerful header summing up his strength and desire to win. Yet is was not to be, after excellent defending throughout the game, the introduction of Henrik Larsson led to a heartbreaking quick fire double for the Catalans, and took the trophy away from 10-man Arsenal. He made 197 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 11 goals, in all competitions.

Unlike other invincibles, Campbell's career did not fade into the twilight after leaving Arsenal. At Portsmouth, under the gaze of Harry Redknapp he formed a strong defence that went on to win the FA cup in 2008, with Campbell leading out the side at Wembley.

A brief 2 month spell at Notts County in League Two followed in 2009, but Sol cancelled his contract and went back to Arsenal to maintain his fitness. This culminated in him re-signing for the club and filling in during some important games. Featuring in the Premier League meant that he joined the elite group of players that had played in the 18 seasons of the Premier League - the others being Ryan Giggs and David James.

Campbell proved he could still cut it at the top level, making his 200th appearance for Arsenal against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, although he was undoubtedly a shadow of the great player he once was. Campbell made his final appearance for the Gunners on Sunday 9th May 2010 in a 4-0 victory against Fulham. Yet another clean sheet to add to his collection.

Sol signed for Newcastle on the back of his time at Arsenal, but struggled with injury and form. His final match in football was a 4-0 defeat to Stoke on Saturday 19th March 2011, he was at blame for some of the goals and was substituted after 60 minutes.

He left Newcastle at the end of the season. After failing to find a suitable club, and struggling to regain fitness, for almost a year, he announced his retirement from football on 2 May 2012.

Campbell made 646 appearances for five different clubs between 1992 and 2011, as well as playing 73 times for England and taking part in six successive international tournaments.