Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is not a manager who is widely identified as being a shrewd user of the January transfer window. However the Frenchman has broke from history to confirm his interest in an unlikely target – Napoli’s prolific forward Edinson Cavani.
Winter 2009 was the last time that the Gunners decided to dip into their pockets to secure the services of an important first team player who can make an immediate impact. That was Andrei Arshavin, who joined from Zenit St Petersburg for a sizeable fee of £15m. The Russian’s influence was apparent as he turned in some dazzling performances in the Premier League run-in.
With Arsenal seemingly vying for the fourth qualification spot for the Champions League for the rest of the season, as well as holding hopes in Europe and the FA Cup, Wenger looks to be keen to attract a player capable of producing an Arshavin-like dynamism to propel them to success. That man, it has been suggested, could be Cavani.
But the confusion around the potential deal concerns the financial implications. The Uruguayan will be expensive – extremely expensive. Along with Radamel Falcao and, somewhat ironically, ex-Gunner Robin van Persie, Cavani is one of the planet’s three outstanding out-and-out centre forwards at the moment, having scored 25 goals in 24 games so far this season. Therefore, Napoli will rightly hold out for a big fee, believed to be in the region of at least £30m.
There is no doubt that Arsenal have that money available. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis has asserted many times that funds are available to Wenger and it is up to him how he sees fit to spend them. But the Gunners are so often reluctant to finger through their wallet to any great extent and any recruitment this month would signal a shift from history.
But there are factors which may have forced Wenger’s hand. Arsenal have been far from convincing in front of goal this season – an observation that Wenger himself has made in many post-match press interviews.
The summer buys of Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla were expected to light up the Emirates Stadium in this Premier League campaign, but only the latter has shown any signs of living up to the hype.
Giroud has blown hot and cold and is currently out of the starting line-up as Theo Walcott is preferred in a central role and Podolski’s form has been patchy at best. The German is a million miles away from his performances for his national team over the years – somewhat confirming the worries of some that Podolski is inconsistent on a week by week basis.
There is no doubt that Cavani would be a welcome new face Arsenal. Whether he would be interested in swapping Naples for north London, and whether Wenger will be bite the bullet and dig deep into the club’s coffers, are very different matters indeed.
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