Who’s coming and who’s leaving?
With the English Premier League only one round away from completion, transfer rumours have inevitably begun to run rife around the Arsenal Football Club this week. I thought it would be appropriate – before things get out of hand - to do a quick assessment of the probable futures of the players who are strongly tipped to be joining or leaving Arsenal in the summer.
Julio Baptista (Prediction – will sign on with Arsenal permanently)
There has been much criticism of ‘The Beast’ in his first on-loan season with the club. I am one of the few who actually wants Baptista to sign on for Arsenal as I believe he will find his feet in the Premiership if given enough time to adapt, a la Didier Drogba. All things considered, there is a fairly even chance of Baptista either leaving or staying, and much depends on the decisions made with regards to Jose Antonio Reyes. Although Baptista himself has previously remarked that he is struggling with life in London I believe Wenger sees value in the big Brazilian and will push for him to sign on permanently.
Jose Antonio Reyes (Prediction – will leave Arsenal permanently)
Despite his miserable year on-loan at the Bernabeu with Real Madrid, Reyes has made it clear that he does not want to return to Arsenal. Whilst Wenger has said that he would welcome him back, I just can not see this happening. I believe that if Reyes did return to the English Premier League with Arsenal, skilfull as he may be, it would be like hitting the reset button; he would need another season to toughen up again and this is something that cannot be afforded. And whilst Atletico Madrid has turned down his services, Reyes talents will not go unnoticed for too long. Several clubs in Spain will soon be buzzing for his signature.
Lukasz Fabianski (Prediction – will join Arsenal)
According to most reports, Polish 22-year-old goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski looks almost certain to join Arsenal with the intention of becoming first-choice goalkeeper at the club within a season. A great move – if it eventuates – which should see pressure being placed on Jens Lehmann.
Franck Ribery (Prediction – will join Arsenal*)
*If his current club Marseille fail to qualify for the Champions League. Ribery has a clause in his contract that stipulates that if Marseille fail to qualify for the UEFA Champions League he is allowed to move on. His comments, “I just want to play, I don’t want to change my club just to stay on the bench” seem to fit with a move to Arsenal rather than Manchester United or Chelsea, the other reported options. I see Ribery’s signature as the most important that Arsenal could sign in the transfer window and I believe Wenger will go all out to acquire it. Ribery boasts the key ability that Wenger has been lacking in his wingers - directness. There’s just the problem of that pesky clause preventing this from being close to a certainty.
Henry to Barcelona?
When transfer rumours get a little out-of-hand, it is sometimes important to take a reality check and remember that some headlines are utter bollocks. Whilst the news will no doubt say otherwise, I’ve refused to include such ridiculous rumours like the possibility of Thierry Henry moving to Barcelona or Gilberto Silva heading over to Juventus. As I mentioned in the previous post, William Gallas will not be moving onto Real Madrid and neither with Cesc Fabregas. Neither will Arsenal be signing Samuel Eto’o. Football journalists (can we even call them that?) begin to circulate these sort of rumours around this time of the year because there is little football to discuss and they have to make their money somehow.
In the words of the Arctic Monkeys, “Don’t believe the hype.”