If reports are to be believed, the Gunners are on the verge of signing the highly rated Gervinho from Lille – who has averaged just under a goal every two games with the French side – but also look to be leading the race to secure Gary Cahill from Bolton Wanderers. However, with clouds of uncertainty lingering over Captain Cesc Fabregas and fellow midfielder Samir Nasri, it seems more eyes are on the Emirates exit than the entrance.
Although many Arsenal supporters are preparing for the gut wrenching news of Barcelona and Arsenal agreeing a fee for Fabregas, they should remember, history illustrates that big players have left big clubs before, and the latter generally recover. This is not to say Fabregas would not be missed, but Liverpool are surviving without Fernando Torres, Manchester United without Cristiano Ronaldo, so on and so forth.
His departure would change the Gunners’ aesthetic, but in fairness there must be Arsenal supporters who want closure on the whole irksome affair. In hindsight, when such an influential player leaves it often ends up bittersweet. The burden he carried must then be spread across the rest of the squad with other players inevitably stepping up, and it is this notion that bolsters the importance of keeping Nasri. On last season’s evidence, his departure would create a bigger void, especially if it meant rivals Man Utd were strengthened by Arsenal’s loss.
Wenger became the target for despondent Arsenal supporters at the closure of the last campaign. Their weakness of not winning games at defining moments, as champions elect do – see Man Utd’s 2-3 away victory at Blackpool last season – again saw them come unstuck. He must invest wisely to ensure his club are seen to be making genuine strides this year, with or without their captain orchestrating things.
There have been extensive debates concerning products of the transfer rumour mill, with names such as Scott Parker and even Joey Barton linked with a north London move. These two are the brand of player Arsenal maybe lack, characters to bring some bite to a team who currently epitomise fluidity and elegance. The West Ham captain may be seen as too old to fit into Wenger’s regime, but is it this stubbornness that will ultimately cost them success?
The fact the club are willing to spend money makes this an even more critical period in Wenger’s tenure. Following a repeated lack of material success throughout the past six seasons, Wenger deflected criticism with ideas of a masterplan to nurture a title winning side – but the pure nature of that excuse becomes staler year on year. If the club do re-invest this summer, then the expectation will surely weigh even heavier on Wenger’s shoulders.