17 July 2013

Transfer Round-up: Higuain, Cesar, Williams, Suarez in limbo

This has been a difficult, trying week for Gooners who are paying any attention to transfer-talk. The one shred of good news we can cling to comes thanks to Atlético Madrid and a laughable rumor that they'd agreed to terms with Santi Cazorla and that owner Miguel Angel Gil Marin was in London to negotiate. Those fools think that they can bid £17.5m on a man whom we brought in for £12m and who is probably worth £25m. Fine. With Arsène and Santi in Vietnam, I'm not sure how far this rumor can stretch. Such are the times in which we live.

However, as I said, that's the good news so far this week. Everywhere else we look, those ninnies from Napoli seem to be botching things for us. There's been talk of them bringing in Julio César for some time, and newly flush after their sale of Edinson Cavani, they're now looking to spend. A move back to Serie A might make sense to César, although Napoli were docked two points in 2012 for match-fixing. They may not yet be implicated in the current tax-evasion and money-laundering scandal (which I covered here), but it's hard to resist the impression that the league itself is a bit of a festery pool. Be that as it may, Napoli did finish in second place this past season, so César would be trading up from the Championship to the Champions League. Transfermarkt has pegged the likelihood of him going there at 80% as our chances sag again to 53% from 62%, and the betting remains closed.

If only that were the end of Napoli's meddling. They're now "in talks" with Gonzalo as they seek to replace Cavani's 29 goals. It's maddening to think of how long we've pursued his signature, only to see the odds sink to 71%, down from their high of 80% on 7 July. Worse, Napoli are now rated as a more likely destination by skybet, putting the line at 4/5 and us at 2 (meaning that if you bet five on Higuain to Napoli you win four; if you bet one on him to Arsenal, you win two). C'mon, Napoli. Be a friend. Just finish signing Damião and leave it at that. He's a decent striker. I don't think Brazilians and Argentinians like each other. Uruguayans and Brazilians, however, are like peas and carrots. Or so I hear. Go get Luis, leave Gonzalo alone, and we promise to root for you to overtake Juve. Deal?

The other possible glimmer of optimism comes concerning Ashley Williams. Despite being named Swansea's captain earlier this week, little has changed as his odds remain at 42%, and skybet still sees us as the odds-on favorites to get him. The captaincy is a nice honor and recognition of his importance to the squad, but I'm not sure it changes much as far as availability. I seem to remember some other club whose captains had little trouble departing. With Vermaelen out for the first three or four games of the season after aggravating a chronic back problem, we may see the club pursue Williams or another center-back with more urgency. Vermaelen's injury highlights the need for a fourth center-back as we're one injury away from having only two in the squad.

Further off on the edges of the radar but still registering at transfermarkt are Suarez (32%), Papadopoulos (22%), Fellaini (20%), and Rooney (18%). Until that number climbs above 35%, the chances seem too remote to entertain.

With the club in Asia until 26 July, it seems unlikely that we'll hear of any news before then, as desperate as many of us are. With Arteta, Wilshere, and Walcott recently making public statements about the importance of some new signings, however, perhaps we'll see something sooner than later. Arteta, as vice-captain, and Wilshere, as a club talisman, surely have Arsène's ear when they speak publicly and did so just days after Arsène spoke of "secrets and confidentiality." In that same press conference in Jakarta, Arsène said that "we want to give happiness to all of our fans". Well, Arsène, seeing the current squad in the flesh is a well-deserved thrill for the fans there, but I'm sure I speak for everyone in the Gunner family when I say, please announce a significant signing, and soon! <S'il vous plait, Monsieur Wenger, je vous en supplie!>

That about does it for today, then. If you have a moment and haven't done so already, go on over to the YAMA awards and vote. This blog, Woolwich 1886, is nominated in the Best New Arsenal Blog category, and I hope to earn your vote. Thanks!