Saturday 18 August 2012

Arsenal's alternatives to Sahin

I'm quite distrubed to hear that Liverpool are in pole position to land Nuri Sahin as, although I haven't seen him play that much, he sounds like the sort of player who will be just what the doctor ordered. Especially as Alex Song is probably heading to Barcelona for around £17m. If we can get Sahin on loan, that sounds like an excellent piece of business.

The story goes that Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid boss, would prefer Sahin to join Liverpool. Of course, 'The Special One' knows Reds manager Brendan Rodgers well, so wants to do his old buddy a favour. It sounds a bit far-fetched. But maybe Sahin thinks he'll get more playing time at Anfield, so I can imagine him making a choice based on that.

So if we don't get Sahin, what are the other options?

1. Yann M'Vila - Arsene Wenger has been distancing himself from the France international, so I'll be a bit surprised if we swoop for the 22-year-old Rennes midfielder. With 22 caps for his country, he's got to be a good addition. Then again, Abou Diaby has got 15 caps, so how difficult is it to get in the France national side nowadays?

2. Etienne Capoue - On paper, this sounds more like a Wenger-type signing. He's a bit more off the radar and has only been capped once by France. Maybe he could develop into a better player at Arsenal, but at the age of 24, he's running out of time to improve.

3. Victor Wanyama - I can't see this happening at all. The Celtic midfielder is a bit on the clumsy side, although he's great in the air.

4. Lucas Biglia - We saw the Argentina international at close quarters in the recent friendly versus Anderlecht at St Mary's Stadium. I wasn't impressed, so I'd be surprised if we make a bid for the 25-year-old.

5. Kara Mbodj - I can't believe that ex-Gunner Lee Dixon has said that a central midfielder from the Norwegian top-flight will be a midfield panacea for Arsenal, as has been reported on some websites. I've not seen the 6ft 3" Tromso star yet, so I'll reserve judgment for now on the 22-year-old uncapped Senegalese midfielder.

So who would I choose from the above? None of them. I would have tried to bring Mathieu Flamini back, but he's re-signed with AC Milan. Failing that, I would have gone for Miguel Veloso, but he signed for Dynamo Kiev last month.

Another overseas alternative could be Athletic Bilbao's Javi Rodriguez. The 23-year-old Spain international is 6ft 3" and Barcelona wanted to sign him before they'd turned their attentions to Alex Song. How ironic it would be, if we ended up using the Song money to get Rodriguez! Barca would be green with envy! Bilbao might have put the price up for Barca, as they are playing in the same league, of course. Just a bit of wishful thinking, but stranger things have happened in football!

Slightly more realistically, I'd be tempted to look closer to home and try to sign Marouane Fallaini from Everton. But now the Toffees have sold Jack Rodwell, they're unlikely to sell another one of their stars. And if they did, they'd want a lot more than the £15m they shelled out for him in 2008. He signed a new 5-year deal less than than a year ago, so we can forget any ideas about getting him on the cheap. I'd break the bank to get him, but Wenger and the board are not going to do that, unfortunately.

The cheap option is to give the youngsters a chance. I reckon Francis Coquelin could become every bit as good as Alex Song eventually. I'm not sure if Coq-au-vin is ready to play in every game this season, but you never know. Aside from a marquee signing like Fellaini, I think Coq's our best bet.

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