‘Tis the season to be jolly and Arsenal, for the moment, are embracing the festive cheer. Monday’s thumping of Reading can hardly act as an accurate measurement of the current mood at the Emirates Stadium but that 5-2 victory, combined with the securing of five of the club’s most promising young British players, has distracted from the recent on-field woes.
With the January transfer window now just around the corner, attention turns to how the Gunners will add to their squad. Arsene Wenger, normally so thrifty with his transfer dealings, much akin to a pre-teen child smothering his piggy bank, has said he could be in the market for “one or two exceptional players” over the next month. But which players might these be?
The priority for Arsenal certainly seems to be in the striker department. Olivier Giroud is settling in north London but, due to the club’s lack of recognised centre-forwards, has had to play lots of football in his first six months in the English game and seems to be suffering from fatigue.
Theo Walcott deputised admirably against Reading and is a useful, exciting option for Wenger to have at his disposal, but getting another specialist striker would be preferable – especially since another makeshift option, Gervinho, departs for the Africa Cup of Nations soon, as does misfit Marouane Chamakh.
There are players who would be available in January. Much has been made of Demba Ba’s release clause at Newcastle United, which would reportedly allow him to leave the club if an offer in the region of £7million was made.
Ba has been in excellent form this season, with 11 goals in 17 Premier League appearances so far but his injury proneness is a worry. Senegal have failed to make the Africa Cup of Nations though, meaning Ba would be available straight away, should he sign.
Another option would be Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal have opened talks with Schalke over a £6m move for the Dutch striker but Huntelaar is apparently insisting he is given a contract worth £100,000-a-week.
With Wenger continuing to haggle with Walcott over a much lesser salary, whether the Gunners would bow to the 29-year-old’s demands is highly questionable. And with Sky Sports reporting that Huntelaar is close to agreeing a new deal with the German side, a deal looks even less likely.
One thing is for certain – if Wenger cannot see a deal out there which is both financially viable and could improve his squad, he is not going to be pressured into pushing it through. The Frenchman has proved this in previous windows to great effect. The one time he arguably rushed transfers through was in August 2011 when the likes of Park Chu-Young and Andre Santos were hurried through the doors of the Emirates Stadium.
However if Wenger does choose to stick with his current hand, it is vital that he follows through on his insistence to keep Walcott. The contract rebel’s versatility could be extremely valuable over the next few months.
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