Saturday, 28 May 2011

No Benzema? - Alvarez negotiations begin - Arshavin/Vela surplus to requirements

Morning Gooners.

There is a frenzy of stories about strikers being linked with Arsenal today. It's certainly whetted my appetite for someone who can become our fox in the box next season.

We'll start with Karim Benzema who is under the impression he'll be playing his football with Real Madrid next season despite being "honoured" to have been linked with a club as grand as Arsenal. However the French international is set to stay in Spain according to the Daily Mirror as he believes Jose Mourinho doesn't want to sell him.

He said:
"For me it's an honour that big clubs and big coaches are interested in me. That shows I have increased my level as a footballer.
"But I have spoken face to face with Jose Mourinho and I don't believe he wants to sell me this summer."
There certainly seems like they'll be movement in Madrid striking department this summer. It doesn't appear Real will be taking up the option to sign Emmanuel Adebayor and there is a real possibility Sergio Aguero will be moving across town.

So where does that leave Benzema? On his way to north London. It sounds like a nice idea but something which won't come off. Unless there is no room for him in Mourinho's squad.

The second striker we're linked with today is Lille striker Gervinho. The Guardian is close to this one. They suggest we have to sell someone in the squad - Andrey Arshavin - before we can make a move for the Ivory Coast international.

Gervinho appears to be highly rated and there is interested also from Liverpool and Newcastle. The Daily Mail report that Toon boss Alan Pardew has met with the striker. Well that will have certainly put him off moving to the north east, so Mike Ashley won't be concerned his millions will be spent on this particular striker. Plus have I missed a few decades of football because Newcastle haven't qualified for the Champions League and I know players love their high wages, but to have the chance to play with Lille against Europe's best or with Newcastle... I know which one I'd chose.

We'll move back in midfield for our next rumour, although I think this one has legs and could be a goer. Arsenal have held preliminary discussions with Velez Sarsfield for Ricky Alvarez.

The Argentine midfielder, 23, holds an Italian passport as well so a move to north London wouldn't be impossible.

Alvarez's representative Marcelo Simonian said:
"Inter Milan and Arsenal interested in him? We are in talks with some clubs, but Inter Milan haven't ever called me.
"Roma? I know that (sporting director, Walter) Sabatini knows him very, very well.
"I believe that in front of an important offer, Velez will not prevent Alvarez taking a step forward for his career."
There certainly appears to be some smoke with this one as Young Guns go on to report that Dick Law has been in Argentina talking with the club and the player's agent. We'll watch this space.

We'll now reopen the File Of Uninspiring Possible Signings (FOUPS) to dig out the name of Christopher Samba who has been again linked with a move to Arsenal, this time for £8m in the Daily Mail. Booo.

Andrey Arshavin has been telling anyone who'll listen that he'll be back at Arsenal next season.

The Russian said:
"Don’t believe the rumours. Everything is good with (manager) Arsene Wenger. I’m not going to leave Arsenal.
"Compared to last year we dropped from third to fourth place in the championship.
"We were in the League Cup final, which we should have won. So you have to admit the season was a failure."
From what I've heard Arshavin is one of the players we'll entertain offers for. If a bid which matches Arsenal's valuation of the player comes in, the Russian will be sold. Personally I'd like to see us keep him, but he certainly needs to do more to fight for his first team place.

Last season I was told that Arsene Wenger was seriously considering Arshavin's request that the team practice for less than the 90 minutes they spend on the training pitches at London Colney. I never found out what came of it, but I can only assume the manager knocked Arshavin's idea on the head.

Another player who we'll welcome offers for is Carlos Vela, however is agent is obviously unaware of our intentions towards the Mexican.

Vela's agent Eduardo Hernández said:
"I spoke with the people at Arsenal. There are many rumours going on about the player but the reality is that he will return at Arsenal.
"He was called by Mexico for the upcoming Copa America and the instructions I received is that Carlos must report back to Arsenal immediately after holidays.
"Carlos is an Arsenal player and at the moment there is no transfer movement."
Vela might have fulfilled their potential if he'd put the effort in on the training pitch and adapted to English culture a little better.

A few quick matters of business I should get through. Arsenal have announced a pre-season friendly with FC Cologne on July 23.  Zak Ansah has signed a professional contract with the club - doesn't he look thrilled!
And Jack Wilshere has been voted player of the season by fans on the official website poll. A very deserved accolade.

Finally, well done to Aaron Ramsey who captained Wales to a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in some pointless friendly. The midfielder played 89 minutes in front of just 529 supporters and scored his country's opening goal.

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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