Friday, 4 January 2013

Arsenal training ground bust-ups -We want Messi! -Holtby scouted -Walcott latest

Morning Gooners.

It seems the media have gone into meltdown over the pictures of Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini's training ground bust up, when they should be talking about the decision of the AC Milan players to walk off the pitch because of racist abuse aimed at their black players. But that would mean concentrating on something that really mattered.

Training ground bust ups are not exclusive to Manchester City. They happen everywhere, including at Arsenal. But because there isn't a public footpath which runs through London Colney, the hedges are heigh and security tight, photographers can't get anywhere near to take pictures of what goes on.

And remember players don't get on with one another just because they are team mates. Remember there was a long running feud between Samir Na$ri and Willam Gallas, which started before they both played together at Arsenal. Then there is Kolo Toure and Gallas.

All this Balotelli vs Mancini action happened after Arsene Wenger's press conference yesterday so the Arsenal manager wasn't asked about it. What he was quizzed over was what business he'd be doing in the January transfer window.

Wenger is always cautious when it comes to talking about signings. And he's admitted for the first time it's more difficult than ever to bring in the type of players he was signing at the start of his time in north London.

He said:
"It is now very difficult because the level of expectation is very high. 
"People don’t want to see a promising guy, they want to see Lionel Messi. 
"First of all, the name gives hope. When a guy has not made a name for himself people are already sceptical so it’s much more difficult for us."  
When you think of the players he signed when he was in his early years as Arsenal manager, the likes of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Nicolas Anelka, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry. Those sorts of high quality players are no longer available at a price we can afford to pay.

A telling point the manager also made was that the French aren't producing the high quality players they once were. The markets Wenger says he's currently watching are Germany, Spain and Japan.

Personally I'd rather see a promising youngster given their chance - a player who will give their all for the team - rather than a footballing journeyman handed another pay day at Arsenal. And that's where the manager has got it wrong in recent years in my opinion.

The likes of Sebastien Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh aren't bad players. But they haven't progressed to the level we expect at Arsenal. The manager has taken a punt on them which hasn't worked out. But financially it's not cost us that much. Squillaci was £3m and Chamakh came on a free. Their wages were probably £5m a season combined,  money which the club can afford but could have been spent elsewhere.

Anyway, it looks as though both players will be on their way out of the Grove this month. The Frenchman is talking to Marseille, Nice, Monaco, Ajaccio and Bastia, while Chamakh is a target of both West Ham (Daily Mail) and Reading (The Sun).

Meanwhile The Sun claim Lazio are running their rule over Andrey Arshavin.

Elsewhere the manager has claimed his decision not to sign Demba Ba was down his preference for Olivier Giroud. For me, they aren't exactly the same type of centre forward and I would have found room in the squad for Ba, if we knew his knee injury wouldn't have kept him sidelined for most of his Arsenal career.

Lewis Holtby is a name which came up in the manager's press conference yesterday and he's someone we're keeping tabs on. Don't expect any movement to happen until the summer though.

And finally, the Theo Walcott contract situation seems to be still as we were. The manager says he's still hopeful that Theo will sign. All the noises I'm hearing are more positive then they were a month ago. So lets keep our fingers crossed.

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow.

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