With no meaningful football to write about for another week at least, I think it's time I took a look at the prospects of the current Arsensl squad this summer. The general consensus among a lot of Arsenal fans is that quite a few of the current squad have had enough chances in the team, and it's time for them to move on. I'm not sure I totally agree with those sentiments, but I have decided to take a look at the possible candidates for an exit from the Emirates this summer. First of all I'll have a look at the players who are rumoured to be unsettled, but I certainly would like Arsenal to keep.
The most high profile player Arsenal have at the moment is Cesc Fabregas, and he is coveted by all of the top teams in Europe. He has proven to be invaluable to Arsenal over the past few seasons, and it's difficult to imagine how they could possibly replace him if he left. Last summer his exit seemed imminent, but Arsene Wenger refused to sell him to Barcelona despite their best efforts to unsettle the player. His roots at Barcelona are well documented, and if he ever leaves Arsenal they are the most likely destination.
I still think Arsenal will do all they can to hold on to Cesc this summer, and I hope they succeed. Barcelona's lack of money has been well documented, and so has their unwillingness to pay the going rate for Cesc. Fernando Torres joined Chelsea from Liverpool for £50 million in January, and Cesc has a lot more to offer than Torres in my opinion. When you consider Andy Carroll cost Liverpool £35 million, then the price for Cesc should be at least £70 million in my opinion. I would of course prefer if Cesc stayed at Arsenal, and he has stated his desire to win trophies as their captain. The current squad could possibly deliver a league title this season, but if it doesn't I think Cesc will make his decision based on what players Arsenal sign this summer. If he decides he wants to leave I would be surprised if the boss was able to stand in his way again.
Another played who could possibly leave this summer is Andrey Arshavin. He has not been overly happy since he joined Arsenal, as the tax regime in England meant he actually took a pay cut rather than the rise he expected. Added to that his form has been up and down all season, and some Arsenal fans are of the opinion he doesn't try hard enough all the time. There are rumours his old club, Zenit St. Petersburg, are interested in re-signing him, and I think he would seriously consider a move if an offer was made. The big question will again be whether the boss would be willing to let him go or not, and I have a funny feeling he might well be on the move.
There have been consistent rumours of Gael Clichy joining Juventus for the last couple of years, and I have no doubt they will emerge again this summer. Like quite a few other first team regulars Clichy has come in for a fair deal of criticism over the last couple of seasons. There is a school of thought which thinks his best Arsenal performances are in the past, and it might not be a bad thing to cash in on him now. That same school of thought would probably have Kieran Gibbs installed as the first choice left back at the club.
While I think Gibbs has potential, his performances this season have been far from impressive, and he seems to have inherited the injury prone status of so many other Arsenal players. If Clichy was sold, and he was installed as first choice, I would imagine Armand Traore would return from his loan spell at Juventus to act as cover for Gibbs. The main reason for wanting to play Gibbs ahead of Clichy for many Arsenal fans is because he is English, but I don't think that's a good enough reason. He still has a long way to go to take Clichy's place in the team, and I think a top class replacement would have to be purchased if Clichy was sold.
Samir Nasri has only one year left on his Arsenal contract, and he is reported to be holding out for a massive pay rise before he signs a new one. If Cesc was to leave in the summer the most likely candidate to take his place is Nasri, and I would be very surprised if Arsenal allowed him to leave. However, with only one year left on his contract the ball is firmly in his court, and it's quite possible that he could decide to see that contract out, and leave next year on a free transfer.
I'm sure there are rules concerning some sort of reimbursement for Arsenal if that happened, but I'm also sure it would be nowhere near his market value. In the past both Mathieu Flamini and Edu left Arsenal at the end of their contracts, with no fee involved, but they were different to Nasri. When their contracts were allowed to run down they were not integral parts of them, even though they played a significant role during their last season. I think it's vital for Arsenal to keep Nasri, but if his wage demands are too high Arsene Wenger will not break the wage structure either.
There is also a train of thought among some Arsenal fans that Robin Van Persie may be a great player, but he misses too many games through injury. If it was possible to sell him and bring in a top class goalscorer who is not injury prone, a lot of fans would be very happy. Who that player might be is another question altogether, and I certainly couldn't nominate him. There is no doubting RVP's importance to the team, and how the team suffers when he is missing, and I would prefer to keep him. Maybe it would be possible to buy a better back up for him, who could fit easily into the team when he is injured. I wouldn't dare suggest his injury problems are behind him, as that would be tempting fate..
If it was up to me I would keep all of those five players, but I suspect at least one of them will be gone this summer. It's anyone's guess which player or players that will be, but I sincerely hope Cesc, Nasri and RVP stay. There are players who cannot be easily replaced, and if all three of them left I don't know what state it would leave the team in.
Those five players are all integral parts of the first team, and if any of them left they would have to be replaced by players of a similar nature. There are other players who of course have not been so important to Arsenal this season, and a few of those fringe players are in danger of being sold whether they want to leave or not. I'll look at the possibility of any of those players leaving this summer in tomorrow's post.
That's it for today.
Here's a look at some of Ray Parlour's best goals for Arsenal.
See You Tomorrow.