Again it’s fairly quiet. I’m assuming this is because every single person at the club is tied up with transfer related business in order to complete the myriad deals we have lined up before the Thursday night deadline. In the absence of nothing else to talk about, I thought I’d rate our chances of signing the players we’ve been most strongly linked with.
David Villa – Barcelona say they won’t sell, but then every club says that about every player they don’t really want to sell but would sell if the price was right. Similarly, Arsenal have flat-out denied that they’re in negotiations with Barcelona, which is exactly what Arsenal would say when asked by the press if they’re negotiating with a player.
It’s long been our methodology – deny everything in relation to transfers. So, even if Arsenal were in talks with Barcelona over Villa – and I’m not saying they are – they’d say they weren’t. Of course, if they weren’t in talks with Barcelona they’d also say that, so we can glean absolutely nothing from this denial.
What I would say is that I am aware there’s some interest, on both sides, but whether it’s enough to make a deal happen before the deadline, I just don’t know.
Likelihood rating: Not impossible but not likely either. In fact, I give it 0/10 – because I badly want it to happen and I used up all my juju on Charlie Nicholas all those years ago.
Mohamed Diamé – There’s plenty of talk that the West Ham player has a release clause of £3.5m. There was also talk last week about how he was going to go to FIFA because the Hammers refused to acknowledge this. Now there’s more talk that the release clause is £7m.
All of which stinks to high heaven to me. He either has a release clause or he doesn’t. If it’s that difficult to activate, or to work out how much it is, then he must have a particularly crap agent.
As for our need for the player, it’s hard to see how he would significantly strengthen the squad. The manager has Arteta, Coquelin and now Aaron Ramsey (not to mention Diaby and Wilshere), who can play in that deep midfield position, so it’s not as if we’d be fixing an area of the team which is badly in need of it. Not like a striker, for example.
Likelihood rating: 1/10 because anything is possible but if he was that much on our radar why weren’t we all over him when he left Wigan on a free. Actually, make that 2/10 – I’m adding a point because it’s a signing that would be so underwhelming it might just happen.
Florian Thauvin – He’s a 20 year old attacking midfielder who plays for Bastia (Alex Song’s old club) in Ligue 1. I imagine only seasoned Ligue 1 watchers will know much about him. I certainly don’t, so can’t really comment on him as a player.
It’s hard to see how we need another attacking midfielder, unless he can be deployed out wide and has blinding pace or mad skillz. He’s got three goals in the league this season.
Likelihood rating: 9/10 – Never heard of him, young, French, unlikely to cost much, will allow people to make joke about ‘super, super’ or ‘exceptional’ quality, possible makeweight in a Squillaci move, did I mention young and French and unheard of? Ticks so many boxes we’ve run out of boxes.
Cavani/Jovetic: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. Hahahaha.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahaha. Hahahaha. Haha. Hah. Ha.
Likelihood rating: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. Argh.
Aside from that lot, I don’t know who else we’ve been linked with really. I’m sure there are more but even the newspapers have more or less stopped making stuff up because they know that there’s little credibility in the stories – even by their fairly dismal standards when it comes to transfers.
And it seems to me like there’s a sort of weary acceptance that we’re going to have a ‘dry January’. Many people give up hooch in this month, Arsenal have given up transfers. The difference, of course, is that many people had overindulged on hooch beforehand. And look, I know it’s more difficult to get the players you want in January, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the players you need.
Should Thursday come and go with no action, it will be a risky strategy for a manager, and a club, under real pressure. I’ve long maintained that it’s not so much the lack of trophies that cause the frustration, but the feeling that we don’t really use everything within our power to compete for them. If we finish outside the top four this season, with a pile of money in the bank which could have been used to strengthen the team, then there’s no hiding place for the manager or, indeed, those above him.
That said, I also think this is a group of players capable of more than we’ve seen from them this season. It all comes back to consistency and not being able to follow up great performances (like the one at West Ham), with another one (see Brighton for comparison). If we can add even a little bit of that to our game, I think a top four finish is within our power, but I still find it odd that we wouldn’t try and tip the odds a little more in our favour by bringing a couple of faces in.
Anyway, the manager has got a pre-Mugsmashers press conference this morning. I’m sure we’ll all be illuminated further by the end of it.