Arsenal: Nasri and Fabregas two possible departures with Gervinho and Alvarez heading in

The rumoured departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas have dominated the summer for Arsenal, in direct opposition to what Gunners supporters would have been hoping for in pre-season. Far from righting the wrongs of the last campaign that again saw the Premier League title challenge of Arsene Wenger’s side falter, losing the two midfielders would deliver a hammer blow to the Emirates Stadium club.

With Fabregas again spending the summer doing the expected and eternal dance with Barcelona, whispers of Nasri’s possible move came as much more of a surprise. The Frenchman has 12 months remaining on his contract and in an interview with Canal Plus said at the end of the 2010-11 season: “I know how much I owe to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, and I want my future to be at Arsenal.” On the surface, Nasri’s statement is a declaration of his intent to stay in north London, but, on closer inspection, is a classic example of ambiguity, a study in weasel words. Rather than saying his future will be at Arsenal, Nasri merely expressed his hope it will be at Arsenal. The two are very different: the former is a cast-iron guarantee, while the latter lacks authority and leaves just enough wriggle room, a way out if Nasri does leave Arsenal this summer to do so without going back on his word. Manchester United, Chelsea and Roma have all been linked to the 24-year-old, with a fee upwards of £25m discussed.

Wenger has said on French radio that even if Nasri does leave, it will not be to join United. The manager does, however, have a history of selling important players when he deems it most beneficial to the club. Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry have all risen to stardom under Wenger’s tutelage, and all been sold for a substantial fee, with the player themselves having peaked while in an Arsenal shirt, but that could not be considered the case with the younger Nasri. There is also the added caveat of the strongest interest in Nasri coming from one of Arsenal’s great rivals, United, as the aforementioned quartet all moved to new countries and at a later stage in their career. Even if Sir Alex Ferguson does not swoop for Nasri, new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has reportedly marked the player as a second choice should the Blues’ move for Luka Modric fall through. Roma, meanwhile, under new American ownership, may be the most palatable option for Wenger to sell to, but also the most unlikely.

As for Fabregas, should Wenger condone his return to Barcelona, the reasons may be tactical as much as any other. In June the Guardian wrote: “[Wenger]…is conscious that Fabregas…does not fit easily into a 4-4-2 and is deciding how best to…structure his squad.” The newspaper also noted: “Wenger is aware that Fabregas…is firmer than ever in his intent to depart for his home club.” The combination of the two factors – one tactical, the other personal – could finally bring an end to one of the longest-running sagas in football. The Guardian also reported that the futures of Nasri and Fabregas are inextricably linked – if one goes, the other will stay – but suggestions from elsewhere deny that is the case. Jack Wilshere may appear the natural replacement for Fabregas, despite his tender years, but coping with the loss of both the Spaniard and Nasri, tagged by many as Fabregas’ successor before he too agitated for a move, would test even a manager of Wenger’s renowned resource.

If talk of outgoings from Arsenal is still murky at best, there is perhaps even less definite news about players moving in the other direction. Argentine midfielder Ricky Alvarez is one well-stated target, but the Velez Sarsfield player is also interesting Palermo and Inter. Left-footed and standing over 6’2”, Alvarez would offer an alternative to the ranks of diminutive right-footed midfielders currently at Wenger’s disposal. Gervinho, the Ivory Coast forward currently with French side Lille, is another heavily-linked target, with some sources expecting the deal to have been completed already, while a host of centre-backs, including Christopher Samba, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, have been frequently mentioned. With the likely departure of Fabregas, the possible departure of Nasri, and the strongly-rumoured departures of first team regulars Nicklas Bendtner, Andrei Arshavin and Gael Clichy, this summer could be one that deviates from Wenger’s policy of slow evolution into a more drastic revolution.

In

Carl Jenkinson DEF – Charlton Athletic, undisclosed

Out

Mark Randall MID – released

Interested in

Phil Jagielka DEF – Everton

Christopher Samba DEF – Blackburn Rovers

Gary Cahill DEF – Bolton Wanderers

Jose Enrique DEF – Newcastle United

Stewart Downing MID – Aston Villa

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain MID – Southampton

Ricky Alvarez MID – Velez Sarsfield

Eden Harzard MID – Lille

Gervinho FWD – Lille

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