From Joe Murphy : A defence of Wenger’s (so-far) strikerless summer, and why Mahrez would make sense
Longtime reader (since 2001) and inspired by the spirit of forum I figured I’d contribute some thoughts:
I. Arsenal need a centre-forward.
The fans know it, opposition fans know it, the players know it, hell even Giroud’s agent knows it. We’ve gnashed our teeth for years now as a revolving door of strikers ranging from abysmal to mediocre have huffed, puffed, sulked, plodded, and stumbled (ahem Sanogo…never mind) throughout matches.
Sure, it might have been criminal that we didn’t sign a striker (or any outfield player for that matter) last summer but at least we could fool ourselves into thinking things might not be so bad, after all we had a supposedly imminently returning Danny Welbeck, and a Theo Walcott who had been begging to play at CF for ages, itching to prove his worth, and that had yet to start playing like a man who’d been involuntarily cuckolded (though some would argue he’s always played like that).
So that bring us to this summer.
Surely now, following a season that’s seen fan discontent mount to perhaps its highest levels under Wenger, the club would splash the cash on a top-class goal-getter, right? Failure to do so would be perhaps the most negligent move Arsene’s made involving transfers, and could only be fueled by hubris, stubbornness, or just plain old incompetence.
Needless to say that the anthem for many fans heading into the next season is: SIGN A STRIKER OR GET OUT!
2. The Vardy saga is old news by this point and only worth discussing for a singular reason, and that’s because it showed us something we don’t normally see: Wenger played his hand early.
We know a few things about Arsene Wenger in the transfer market from the past two-odd decades:
1. Wenger is a serial ditherer who is content to let the market pass him by, picking up the pieces he can fit into his puzzle as they come along…
2. BUT when he identifies what he considers a “bargain” or a “special talent” available in the market he’s willing to pull the trigger.
The fact that Wenger, a man who probably has more contacts and connections in football than most of us have synapses in our brain, and as a result undoubtedly has a better view of the overall landscape of the transfer market than most of us could dream, was willing and eager (almost uncharacteristically so) to cash out on Vardy so early in the summer tells us something else:
Wenger’s already surveyed the market and concluded Vardy was the best/most reasonable option available.
For all of his strengths Vardy is hardly what one would consider a “special” talent and I have no doubts that if the likes of Benzema or Lewandowski were attainable then Wenger would have been willing to pay double what we would have paid for Vardy.
Since he was so quick to jump on the Vardy ship, we can assume he had already assessed the market and determined that those “special” talents simply weren’t realistic. And this isn’t a slight on Wenger, as the striker market is dead at the moment and there’s not much he can do about it.
Need proof? Look at Man Utd’s operations in the last two windows. They’re one of the most attractive clubs in the world with bottomless pockets who have also been crying out for a genuine goal-scorer for a couple of years now. Yet in the past two windows they’ve wound up signing a raw Martial (who’s hardly wound up playing as a CF) for an outrageous sum on deadline day, and a year later an aging Zlatan on a free transfer in a deal that will probably be as beneficial to the marketing sector off the pitch as on it.
This is what makes interest in Mahrez (or another wide right man who can score goals) more likely than any superstar striker.
Giroud is a 15 goal a season striker.
Ideally you sign a 25-30 goal a season man to improve on him and everyone is happy. However if the 25-30 goal man isn’t available you can add those goals from another area, and wide right is an area ripe for improvement in the squad in terms of raw output of goals/assists.
We lost a 30 goal striker in Van Persie and replaced him with Giroud, yet through a bit of restructuring in the team we scored virtually the same amount of goals in 2012/2013 (72) as we did in RVP’s 30 goal 2011/2012 (74).
I have no doubts Arsenal will sign a striker but I rather expect it to be another Giroud-level 10-15 goal man who is flying under the radar right now. Someone who will be willing to rotate with Giroud and, like Giroud, will be happy enough to be given the privilege to play for Arsenal that he’ll never question or yell at Arsene.
My memo to Arsenal fans would be: expect the club the spend big on a goal scoring winger before a big name striker, and know that that may not be such a bad thing.
Or, if you’re smart, don’t expect anything at all.
Signing Mahrez would be an admission that Walcott and Oxlade have totally failed.
They’ve been a complete waste of time & money
I was recently told that Wenger hardly talks to any of the top agents.
When he obviously needed a striker, and there was talk of Higuain going for £70 million, Wenger went for Vardy because of his £20m release clause.
And well done Vardy for saying no to the Colney Creche. I doubt if a former factory worker would enjoy it there.
Higuain of Napoli signed for Juventus for £70m yesterday.
So Juve now have to unload Pogba to Manchester United for £100m to play for Higuain.
His agent Mino Raiola wants £20m out of the deal and Juventus have asked United to pay that as well.
No wonder Wenger doesn’t talk to the top agents.
He needed David Dein to do that, just as he needed Dein to have fights with the board to get money for players.
PS. Mino’s first client was blond Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved, who signed for Juventus in 2001, when Zidane was sold to Real Madrid.
Nedved is now a vice-president of Juventus.