Wenger & Gunners 'need to go now'

Friday 14th June 2013 19:18

Arsene Wenger: Ambition will be tested this summer

Arsene Wenger: Ambition will be tested this summer

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FanZoner Harry Moylan hopes Arsene Wenger follows Gary Neville's advice and says Arsenal's recruitment must catch the fans' imagination.

After Arsenal secured fourth place in the Premier League and Champions League football for a 16th successive season, perhaps Gary Neville summed up best the necessary recruitment approach for the summer when he said: "They need to go now".

At risk of hyperbole in the most hyperbolic industry in the world, this could well be the most important summer in the second half of Arsene Wenger's reign.

Support for him from the board is unquestionable, but whether Wenger can survive another barren season with the club is debatable. To appease fans, Arsenal must at least be seen to be attempting a serious push for silverware. As last season's top three can testify, the easiest way to achieve this is by spending money on good players. Simple, right?

Ivan Gazidis has assured fans that after years of paying off Emirates Stadium debts, this summer will finally see Arsenal in a position to lure the biggest names with the biggest wages to north London.

The touted war chest is £70 million and there seems to be an acceptance from within the club that their rigid wage structure may be outdated and change is forthcoming. Names such as Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuain and Marouane Fellaini are being floated as potential targets but, as ever, the buck stops with Wenger.

Wenger's well-documented insistence on getting value for the club's money may yet hinder any dealings for supposedly top quality players. His customary signing of an out-of-contract youngster, Auxerre's Yaya Sanogo, will do little to whet fans' appetites for success though.

Wenger's stubbornness aside, what do Arsenal need?

A new striker must be the priority. Olivier Giroud performed admirably in his first season and will hopefully continue to improve, but if they are to return to their previous glories under Wenger, Arsenal needs a symbol - a 25 to 30 goal man to look to for inspiration; a definitive replacement for Van Persie.

Higuain would be ideal, having been criminally underused by Real Madrid and the player has expressed his desire to leave the club for pastures new. Juventus are also rumored to be in for the Argentinian and Real's president, Florentino Perez, has warned that no club will get Higuain on the cheap.

Rooney is a player Wenger has liked since he curled in that wonder goal for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, but with doubts over his fitness and attitude, I would argue that Higuain would be a better acquisition regardless of Rooney's quality.

Rooney's underperformance this season has parallels to Torres' final year at Liverpool before his infamous £50 million move to Chelsea. Combine these doubts with Rooney's astronomical wage demands and Higuain would appear an even better bet.

Stevan Jovetic is a third candidate, but that speculation has cooled in recent weeks. His goal record is less inspiring than either Higuain or Rooney and I see him as a talented supplementary attacker rather than an out-and-out goal-getter.

Another must for Wenger in this window is a strong reinforcement in midfield. At the moment the most logical option is looking like Marouane Fellaini: a powerful player, equally adept at defensive and offensive sides of the Premier League.

His £23million release clause is rumored to be a moot point for Wenger, but consider Everton paid £15 million plus add-on's when they brought him to Merseyside in 2008, and suddenly £23 million doesn't seem so unreasonable.

The decision also lies with Wenger to add steel to a talented midfield. Jack Wilshere's injury issues and Mikel Arteta's advancing years makes a signing such as Fellaini seem a smart move for Arsenal and a crowd pleaser for the fans.

Clement Grenier is another name that continues to crop up - a 22 year old French attacking midfielder and typical Wenger signing of old. He has been likened to Samir Nasri, and should he be anywhere near as talented, he must be worth a punt. However, if Arsenal really want to push onward and upward, the smart money must be on someone of Fellaini's calibre.

Arsenal are supposedly interested in supplementing their goalkeeping stock too. The dropping of Wojciech Szczesny coincided with Arsenal's resurgence after the victory in Munich. However, when injury hit Lucasz Fabianski, Szczesny returned to the team with his game appearing much more assured.

Names such as Sunderland's Simon Mignolet and QPR's Julio Cesar are being linked too. I would go with Cesar, as while he certainly offers internal competition for Szczesny; his age - 33 - makes him less threatening; and Szczesny a lot less likely therefore to grow disillusioned and leave for more playing time.

Another suggestion could be Shay Given, who wants to leave Aston Villa, which would appeal to Wenger's economic nature. But Szczesny is still young, and in a couple of years, has the potential to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Bringing in Mignolet might be interpreted as a lack of faith by Szczesny and his agent, who happens to be his father, has previously made his displeasure known at Wenger's decision to drop his son.

The final problem is around Bacary Sagna and his loss of form, though, to be fair, successive leg breaks in the 2011-2012 season have not helped his cause. Wenger and his staff must assess Sagna and decide whether he can find the form that earned him two appearances in PFA Teams of the Year. I believe that sadly he will not recapture this form: the damage caused by these injuries, I fear, has permanently damaged him and while regrettable, selling him on now would also be wise.

These are the kind of ruthless decisions Wenger needs to make if Arsenal are to become a force again. Moves for the solid Ashley Williams and exciting Benfica wingback Melgarejo would be welcome additions to the backline.

It would be unrealistic to assume Arsenal will make all of these transfers. Too often fans get carried away with summer transfer links, and we all know Wenger is not that kind of manager. However, from the board at least, there does appear to be a slight change in mentality; whether this will filter down to Wenger remains to be seen.

A strong end to this season combined with management changes at the three teams that finished above Arsenal seems to have led to a real sense in the squad that next year they really could have a genuine crack at the title. Neville also stated that were Arsenal to go on and win the title next year, there is no doubt it would be considered "one of the most magnificent managerial performances when you look back in history".

Will we break our transfer record and bring in a few new top-class players? Or will we wait until the deadline and panic buy the next Sebastien Squillaci? This is the summer where we will discover most about Wenger.

By Harry Moylan.



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