With Barcelona once again declaring any movement for Fabregas is dead and buried, one can only assume that they are organizing a bid as we speak. The Spanish giant has been trying in vain to prize the Arsenal playmaker back to his spiritual home for years and with Xavi not getting any younger their desire for Fabregas can only be fermenting rather than floundering.
Even with such talent as Wilshere and Song, the huge fee demanded by Arsenal would give Wenger the license to make an uncharacteristically expensive signing in order to attempt to fill the void left by the Gunner’s talisman. So, in no particular order, let’s have a look at the talent on offer:
Sunderland’s young player of the year has gone from strength to strength in the past two years after impressing on loan at Coventry. With Man United’s interest public knowledge along with a reported “host” of clubs keeping tabs on the 20 year old it would be optimistic to say that he will still be at Sunderland come the start of next season.
Described by FIFA as “composed, athletic and powerful” he was listed in their 2011 shortlist of 13 players to watch. A tireless performer he can also be utilized on the right side of midfield but prefers to play through the centre. A perfect candidate for Arsenal’s coaching staff with their tremendous record of cultivating young talent.
He’s struggling with form as of late but there is no doubt that the old cliché rings true when it’s said of Henderson that his class is permanent. The problems arise with the transfer fee Sunderland would demand – rumoured to be north of £20 million. The endemic inflation in value of domestic talent within teams of the same league may prove too much of a stumbling block for Wenger’s frugal personality as well as the lack of Champions League experience.
The two time young Slovak player of the year plies his trade in Italy at Serie A club Napoli and has impressed since joining in 2007. An extremely gifted playmaker he has an eye for goal and has already chalked up 8 league goals this season for Napoli. He is known for his fascinating ability to read the game together with his sound anticipation.
Probably one of the favourites to sign for Arsenal if Fabregas goes, he would paradoxically be one of the most expensive after signing a contract extension keeping him tied to the Azzurri until 2015. His valuation is reportedly around the €40 million mark (£34 million) which seems extreme but given that Arsenal would be likely to receive the same amount, if not more, for Fabregas it would be a good deal.
The 23 year old is the most like for like replacement on the market but with Napoli performing well in the league Hamsik may intend to lead his club into the Champions League next year. If he does indeed sign for Arsenal he would be a great addition not only to the London club but also to the Premier League – plus he is fantastic on Football Manager so he has to be amazing, right?
Lille’s 20 year old midfield sensation has been on the Gunner’s radar for some time now and the sale of Fabregas would act as the catalyst upon which interest would evolve into action. A member of the 2010 Ligue 1 Team of the Year as well as the first international player to be voted the best young player of the season, Hazard has exciting potential.
Zinedine Zidane said of Hazard: “he will be a major star in the future”, adding that he would buy him “with his eyes shut.” Not bad coming from one of the greatest midfielders the game has ever seen. He has 17 caps already for Belgium and is known for the accuracy of his passing and the mesmerizing skill he possesses. Definitely one for the romantics of the game, he would fit into Arsenal’s ethos on the pitch beautifully.
Another player who recently signed a contract extension Hazard has another three years on his existing contract and wouldn’t be an easy target with Lille desperate to hold onto him. Sitting top of Ligue 1, Lille look set to qualify for the Champions League next season and Hamsik may wish to gain some vital experience whilst in France before moving on to pastures new.
Signed by Lyon Last year the former French player of the year has been hailed as the new Zinadine Zidane for his playing style. The reasons for this may lie within the fact that he took over the role of playmaker for France – the first player to do so since Zidane retired back in 2006.
Loaned to Bordeaux by AC Milan, Gourcuff went on to win the double with the French side and was instrumental in the success. That was enough for the newly crowned champions to trigger the 24 year olds’ release clause of €15 million much to the disappointment of his parent club. Christophe Dugarry said that he had been “cured” by watching Gourcuff play since feeling sick since Zidane retired.
Last season was disappointing for Bordeaux and they failed to qualify for Europe which, and Arsenal should take heart from this, led to his departure to Lyon for €22 million. With Lyon struggling in the league this year and European Qualification again hanging in the balance Wenger would have a good chance of getting his man if they fail to earn their place on the European stage. Somewhere around the €30 – 35 million mark should be too tempting for both Lyon and Gourcuff.
Not exactly a name you would expect to find on a Russian mans birth certificate; the 20 year old is a technically sound midfielder who enjoys getting forward and scoring goals. He was voted the best young player of the year by the Russian Football Union in 2008 and is currently turning out for CSKA Moscow.
A vocal presence on the pitch Dzagoev is an enthusiastic, encouraging player and happens to be the youngest outfield player ever to play for Russia. When Real Madrid came calling three years ago he distanced himself from rumours insisting that should he move he would like to go to his favourite club, Chelsea. Might playing in the same league as them do for Dzagoev?
With Champions League experience under his belt he would be a solid signing for Arsenal and would be pleased to be working with fellow Russian international Arshavin. With his contract set to run out in 2012 Dzagoev would also provide the cheapest option should Wenger wish to pursue that route. Just for a bit of random trivia good old Alan shares the same birthday with fellow shortlister Jordan Henderson.
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