Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Midfield Targets for Arsenal This January

Arsenal's troubles this season have been well publicised, especially after the depressing home defeat to Swansea at the start of December, where it seems like the majority, or at least a vast amount, of Arsenal fans started to turn on their almost celestial manager Arsene Wenger.

Many of our troubles have been at the centre of the side, where Arteta and Cazorla have been forced to fight their fitness issues and feature in almost every game this season. Since his return from injury last month, Wilshere has also probably been used much more than Wenger would have preferred, but it only serves to underline how depleted the Arsenal squad is right now.

The reliance on Diaby after the exit of Alex Song this summer has been a catastrophic decision from the manager, and is certainly something he has to rectify in the coming transfer window - as well and the much maligned forward line. Whilst the rested midfield three of Arteta, Wilshere and Santi did perform well against West Brom, they do seem to lack the balance that was there when Diaby started the season in fine form. They aso lack strength, which is a key attribute in this league, and has seen our midfiled become overrun at times this year.

Arsenal need new additions, and here a 6 possible transfer targets for the January transfer window.

Mohamed Diamé - The West Ham midfielder has been in great form this season since his free transfer from Wigan in the summer, and has helped propel Sam Allardyce's side up the table. The French-born Senegalese international adds dynamism and drive to the midfield, with his robust defensive play all across the pitch.

Yet he is not merely a defensive anchor man. Diamé has also impressed this season with his attacking, technical play. The 25 year old already has 2 goals this season in his 15 Premier League starts, and has contributed to much of the great attacking play from the Hammers this season with surging runs through the midfield.

He is 6ft 1in which would add the power into our midfield that has been lacking recently, as we've seen the diminutive trio of Cazorla, Santi and Wilshere being overplayed for much of the season. He also adds the energy and drive which provides a link between defence and attack; something Diaby did excellently before his injury earlier in the season.

Despite his hamstring injury, he is expected to be fit by January, and has a clause in his contract which Arsene could easily exploit. The free transfer - possibly one of the signings of the season so far - has inserted a buy out clause in his contract, expected to be less than £5 million. Allardyce revealed on Sunday that "there's always a situation where you're powerless to keep a player because of the size of the price," hinting at a possible exit for Diamé in January. Arsenal have been heavily linked with him recently and he could prove to be a a great bargain buy.

Yann M'Vila - The French defensive midfielder was subject to much transfer speculation this summer, but eventually all possible transfer deals broke down and the French international had to stay at Rennes.

The lack of any move has had a very negative impact on the midfielder, who has since been involved in a number of contentious issues over the last year, and has subsequently been dropped from the French national side. Representing the under 21 side, he was involved in another incident, and has since been banned from all international appearances until 2014.

However, despite the question marks surrounding his temperament, there is no doubting M'Vila's quality. His tall, solid frame provides a stark reminder to the Arsenal great Patrick Vieira, and the Rennes manager has previously talked up the comparison, saying that M'Vila "reads the game like Makélélé, has the presence of Vieira and can pass the ball like Yaya Toure." High praise indeed. Before this season, where his form has declined dramatically, he was one of the most sought after young players in Europe, and had made a stark improvement in the past few years.

With 22 appearances for the French International side already at the tender age of  22, he certainly has the talent. Wenger could take a gamble on the player whose value has recently plummeted to around 10 million euros. If we did deal with his personality, he could certainly develop into a world class player.

He is probably not the finished article that Arsenal are in need of, but would certainly add something to the squad. He is tall strong and possesses a great passing ability that would fit in with our style and with his 6ft 2in frame, he would not need too long to settle into the physical rigours of the Premier League. It is certainly a gamble, but might be on worth taking.

Moussa Sissoko - Another great young French talent is the Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko. The 23 year old has been admired for a long time by Arsene Wenger, and could be available for a cut down price this January.

The 6ft 2in midfielder has a swift dynamic style, and is very strong in the tackle. With 5 international caps already, he has been more involved this year and looks set to become a regular name in the squad. He is predominantly a box to box player, but is adaptable across the central midfield positions. His game is suited to the Premier League, and he is one of the most coveted defensive midfielders in Europe right now.

He has previously discussed his admiration for the English game, saying ‘To play in the Premier League would be a dream come true, it’s a fantastic league and I enjoy it,’ He has recently been linked to Newcastle and Liverpool, but with Arsene Wenger at the helm and the attraction of Champions League football, if we were to move for the midfielder we would certainly be first choice. In fact he has previously said that “If I had to chose a club, it would be Arsenal.”

With the midfielder available at a cut down price since his contract is on the verge of expiration, he would help add quality depth to the midfield that we are in desperate need of.

Victor Wanyama - The 21 year old Kenyan has been the shining light of Celtic's Champions League exploits this year, particularly impressing in the two fixtures against Barcelona. The Kenyan international combines his power and drive to an almost unstoppable level, as well as being imperiously strong in the air.

Whilst he remains quite a raw talent, Wanyama has certainly progressed over the last few years since his move to Celtic. It is not only his tough tackling and energy that has impressed, but the smart distribution of the ball, which makes him seem much more experienced than he is. With a defensive nous and powerful surging runs being sorely missed in Arsenal's midfield this season, the potential £7 million signing could be smart business from Arsene.

At 21 years old, Victor will certainly improve in the future, and certainly has a long career ahead of him. He may not be the ready-made player we need right now though, with some lapses in concentration and a lack of consistency in his performances. However, when he is on his game, he is almost unstoppable.

Wanyama has 7 goals in his 27 matches this season, and is constantly improving. The Premier League could certainly be a likely destination for the Kenyan in the future, and Arsenal could make a move for him this January.

Kevin Strootman - The 22 year old Dutch international is becoming one of the brightest prospects in European football. Strootman has been watched by Arsenal scouts in recent weeks, including the chief scout Steve Rowley. In a nutshell, Kevin endears himself as a truly old fashioned midfielder, someone who is versatile enough to do a number of roles in the centre of the pitch and never look out of his depth.

The 22 year old has not become a household name throughout Europe yet, but his constant improvements mean he is now trusted as one of the key players in Holland's national side. Former Netherlands's manager Bert Van Marwijk is a particular fan of the PSV midfielder's vision and ability to retain possession. In addition to these skills, Strootman has bundles of energy which he uses to unsettle the opposition, as well as amazing timing of runs on his attacking forays, which has helped him contribute to 7 goals this season.

But i is hard to deny that his main expertise lies in passing the football. At times, Kevin is a joy to behold with his metronomic passing range leading him to be the heartbeat of the PSV side. Last season he managed an impressive 17 assists, and would undoubtedly settle into the possession based Arsenal style, but also provide something extra which has been lacking so far this season.

The Arsenal midfield has been in desperate need of more depth, and Strootman would add to the options in central positions. moreover, he probably provides more defensive nous than the other midfielders at the club, with Mikel Arteta currently occupying the defensive role with mixed results. similarly, At 6ft 1, the Dutch international provides a certain strength and power which the Gunners have missed since the injury to Abou Diaby and sale of Alex Song this summer.

However, PSV sporting director Marcel Brands has recently declared that "Kevin Strootman certainly will not move in January, Without a doubt, he will stay at PSV."

Considering their reluctance to sell, it would probably mean a large effort would have to be made to secure Strootman this January. However a bid around 20 million euros would certainly test their resolve, and would be hard to turn down. With Strootman seen as one of the improving talents in Europe, he would certainly be an impressive coup for Arsene Wenger if he were to make a move for him.

Marouane Fellaini - Despite his inflated transfer fee, Arsenal may be dark horses to sign the Belgian international . The all action midfielder has shone for Everton and has been widely regarded as one of the best players outside the top four. He has been deployed by Moyes in a number of positions around midfield, earning a bumper 5 year deal last year. Tenacious in the tackle, imperious in the air, as well as possessing an eye for a pass, Fellaini has all the qualities to succeed at the highest level, and has been amazing for Everton this season.

Playing in an advanced role this year, Fellaini has demonstrated his creative guile, and the 24 year old Belgian managed 5 assists in his 40 appearances for Everton last season. But this year he has also added goals to his repertoire, with 8 goals in 15 Premier League games. This creativity and attacking drive have helped Everton mount a serious challenge for the top four, But the tall midfielder's aerial dominance, tough tackling, and determined attitude will be his greatest addition to the Arsenal midfield. 

The lure of Champions League football, and a chance to reignite a partnership with Mikel Arteta could see this transfer go ahead, if Arsene is willing to possibly break his transfer record on Marouane.