Well, he’s seen enough of his best players go to La Liga. Now we’re told that Arsene Wenger plans to get his revenge and plunder Spanish football.
It’s a headline which is five months out of date, of course. Wenger was asked in a press conference about the qualities of Swansea’s bargain buys, Michu and Pablo, and responded by discussing the possibility of picking up bargains in Spain as a result of the current economic crisis:
“I must say for someone who knows the Spanish market, it is maybe a good period to sign players because the clubs are in trouble financially and you can make bargains there.”
He’s already done exactly that, of course, by snapping up Santi Cazorla at well below the market price in the Summer, and the assumption is that he’ll be looking for similar ball-playing creatives in January, starting with Adrian. It’s a lazy assumption though.
The conclusion is based on the notion that Wenger is obsessed with a slightly naive, technical style of football. As the British perception of Spanish football, based on Barcelona and the national team, is that it’s all about tiki-taka, it’s assumed that it’s the perfect place to pick up his play-makers.
Except I don’t think he’s looking for that at all. Instead, I reckon he’s after the type of player the media doesn’t associate with the Spanish game: a solid defender.
They’ve conceded fifteen goals in their last eight games, and have kept only three clean sheets in their last eighteen matches. The problem isn’t in the final third.
Their back four looks decent on paper, but if you scratch the surface there isn’t much cover. In Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen and Pal Mertesacker they’ve three solid centre backs, but a lack of reliable options means Vermaelen often has to play at left back as the talented Kieran Gibbs is injury prone and Andre Santos simply can’t defend very well.
Logically, a left back will be top of Wenger’s list. If he’s looking for a club in financial melt-down to plunder, a return to Malaga for Natxo Monreal would make perfect sense were it not for the fact that he too is fighting injury at the moment.
Alternatively, if the media think Adrian can be tempted away from the Vicente Calderon, might the same be true of Filipe? He’d certainly be the type of attacking full back Wenger likes, but the next few weeks might ensure the Brazilian wouldn’t want to move away: if Simeone’s remarkable project continues to build momentum, why would anyway want to jump ship?
A smart option would be Jon Aurtenetxe. He’s young, adaptable and talented, but Athletic might be in a position to resist any overtures. After all, their transfer policy limits the amount of players they can sign, so the Javi Martinez cash, plus what they get for Fernando Llorente if they offload him in the window, will hardly be burnng a hole in their pockets.
We’re told Guilherme Siqueira has attracted the interest of some big clubs, but I’m not totally convinced he’d be that much of an upgrade from Andre Santos.
I reckon a Christmas shopping trip to San Mames is the most logical option for Wenger. But maybe the British press are right and it’s Cristiano Ronaldo he’s after!