It’s 25 days into the January transfer window and Arsene Wenger has been as fustrating as ever. Despite the fans pleas for additions this new year, there have been no new arrivals. The beginning of the transfer window saw Swiss defender Johan Djourou swap the Premier League side for Bundesliga outfit Hannover, but up until now that has been the only movement of the window. Rumours have spread daily on who Arsene is eyeing up, but nothing thus far has come to fruition. There is no doubt that Arsenal must improve their squad to achieve the coveted fourth premier league position, but where exactly do they need to improve?
This season I have watched Arsenal more than ever and it fustrates me. Their main priority, in my opinion, should be bringing in a top class defensive midfielder, and to do this they do not need to break the bank. Someone along the lines of Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Mohammed Diame (West Ham) or Youssouf Mulumbu (West Brom) for example. Mikel Arteta currently occupies that position, but I think it’s fair to say that Mikel isn’t quite the player he was when he played in Everton blue. By no means is Arteta a bad player, but for a team targeting the top four and subsequently Champions league, Arteta will not be able to play 40 games plus. In Arteta’s recent absence through injury, Francis Coquelin has taken up the defensive midfield role alongside injury prone Abou Diaby – despite working well with each other occasionally, they both enjoy getting forward and aren’t exactly the defensive foil Arsenal require. If you look back to Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ season 2003-04, Patrick Viera and Gilberto Silva were the perfect midfield double act, if one went forward – the other would hold, it’s simple. These days Arsenal lack real discipline in the central areas and a new face in that position may make all the difference.
Yann M’Vila – Rennes
Yann M’Vila has been on Arsene Wenger’s radar for a number of years now, but nothing has ever really materialised. Last summer the bookies were convinced that M’Vila would be an Arsenal player by the start of the new season, but to no avail. However this January M’Vila is almost certainly on his way out of Ligue 1 with a number of clubs across Europe declaring their interest, most notably Premier League strugglers Queens Park Rangers and Russian side Rubin Kazan. Both teams undoubtedly will be offering enormous wages that Wenger will not be sucked into doing, but if it’s progression that 22-year-old M’Vila is looking for, football should always come before the money.
Mohammed Diame – West Ham United
Since joining West Ham from Wigan last summer on a free transfer, Mohammed Diame has shone for Big Sam’s men. With some strong performances and popping up with the odd goal, Diame has settled in very well. There has been no interest from other clubs this January for Senegalese’s signature but with a reported £3.5 million release clause, I am sure if Wenger doesn’t take his chance, someone else will. We all know Wenger’s pockets are tight and he’s not the biggest spender but £3.5 million for big Mo looks a steal.
Youssouf Mulumbu – West Bromwich Albion
The Congolese international has been in great form for an impressive West Brom side so far this season. He and summer signing Claudio Yacob have grown a great understanding of eachothers play, which allows Mulumbu to do what he does best. The Baggies midfielder is an old school defensive midfielder, he plays simple football at all times. He picks up the pieces, breaks up play – Everything you’d want a natural holding midfielder to do. Mulumbu cost West Brom £175,000 from French side PSG in 2009, I’d expect around £5-6 Million would need to be paid to secure the 25-year-olds signature – Money well spent on this seasons performances.