07 July 2013

Transfer updates: Higuain, Fellaini, Rooney, Suarez. Oh yeah, and Cesar.

Another week has passed without any noticeable movement around key players. There's been some talk of a £30m bid for Luis Suarez, which I flat-out wish I could veto. The man's a time-bomb waiting to go off. Yes, he scored more than a few goals, but scoring hasn't necessarily been a problem for us. If we are set to sign Higuain (as I believe we are), I think any bid we did or did not make is more about the poker game between us and Real than it is about actually landing Suarez. After all, the toothy Uruguayan says he wants away from the British press. Shame on them, after all, for noticing his transgressions. Does he really want to come to London proper to escape the scrutiny? More to the point, do we want to splurge that kind of cash on a guy who will miss six games after biting Ivanovic and who is one missed snack-time away from biting someone else? Happily, his move barely registers at transfermarkt or the betting sites, so we can dismiss that for now.

Instead, we can turn our attention to other, more likely and more interesting targets. Despite reports that our pursuit of Higuain has hit a snag, with Real Madrid now insisting on something closer to £30m (a figure I've actually suggested is closer to his market-value), it looks like Higuain will finally and truly be a Gunner. If this doesn't happen by week's end, however, I cannot be held legally responsible for my actions.

So Real wants to extract maximum value for Higuain. Fine. He's under contract until 2016, so that gives them a bargaining chip. However, transfermarkt has continued to upgrade the chances of his move to Arsenal from 75% a week ago to 80% today (Sunday). Sanogo was at 93% when Arsenal announced his signing, so we draw ever nearer. I'm not sure what the point of no return is—the magic percentage that marks a confirmed signing—but I don't feel I'm going too far out on a limb to suggest that we'll see something significant before the end of the week.

Julio Cesar has become a bit of a forgotten man even as the chances of his signing grew from 50% last week to 62% today, and odds went from 1/3 to 1/4 as news of Barcelona's interest came out. In other words, we could very well see his addition sooner rather than later. It's a shame that a treble-winning goalie's signing rates so much less attention than that of bizarrely-coiffed Belgians, even if that keeper is 33 years old. There's been little news of movement around Cesar, but his experience and skill and mentorship, as I've argued, could go a very long way in realizing the talent that Szczesny displays only in fits and starts.

In dimmer news, the likelihood of Fellaini joining Arsenal seem to have faded a bit as transfermarkt now only rates his signing at 33%, down from 40% a week ago. I'm not necessarily disappointed, having previously argued that we should approach this signing with caution. With the emergence of Aaron Ramsey and his partnership with Mikel "minifig" Arteta, I feel very comfortable about our defensive midfield and certainly don't feel that Fellaini would be an upgrade on our current batch of attacking midfielders: Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Wilshere, Rosicky. If we can nab him, great. If not, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The buzz around Rooney continues to grow, although not enough to warrant me redoing my nifty little graphic. Transfermarkt rates the odds at only 22%, and the betting sites give us a narrow edge over Chelsea, giving us a 2/1 to Chelsea's 5/2. There's the rub. With noise over Rooney's potential departure getting louder, can we afford to let Chelsea get him? Should we pursue him more aggressively than I've suggested if only to keep him from Mourinho? Other clubs, like PSG, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid, are in play to varying degrees. but it's us and Chelsea who seem to have an inside track. I can't blame the man for potentially wanting to stay in England, but I would certainly prefer he do so with  Arsenal than with Chelsea.

To come 'round full-circle then, let's let that bid for Suarez stand as a shot across Real's bow: stand down on Higuain, or we throw down on Suarez, if only to get petty. Then, once that's done and over, we can turn around and pursue Rooney with greater force. The potential additions of Higuain, Rooney, and Cesar would certainly meet if not exceed my call for two or three signings. Assuming we do land these three, the question then becomes: is this enough? Will those signings re-establish us as legitimate contenders in the Prem (and the Champions League)? Offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Last but not least, Monday marks the final day of voting in the YAMAs 2013 Best of... Awards. Woolwich 1886 is nominated as a "Best New Arsenal Blog", and I hope you'll cast your ballot for me in question #3. Click here to get to the survey—there are seven questions, so it should only take a minute or so. Thanks!