13 July 2013

Transfer Updates: Higuain's fade, Cesar's signing, Williams's surge...

There's a queasy feeling that I just can't shake, and I'm going to blame Suarez. Ever since the news that we may have put in a bid for him, our pursuit of other players has faltered. Thankfully, the oddsmakers still rate Real Madrid as his most likely destination, and the probability of us signing him(as rated by transfermarkt) has never risen above 35%, my arbitrary threshold for including a player on my little chart. In fact, that probability has sagged to 25%, which I take as a good sign. On to the current Top Three Players Most Likely to Become Immediate Arsenal Legends at the Stroke of a Pen.

What's that shiny thing Williams has?
There are rumors to the effect that Julio César may have agreed to sign with Napoli, but there's no official verification. Should that turn out to be true, this would be a setback, to be sure, although not a disaster. The website oddschecker.com shows no betting sites taking bets on him going anywhere, but that's happened with players before only to change. I've argued that we should sign him, but if he prefers to take a pay-cut to return to Italy, there's not much we can do about that. We've been linked to him a little but not seriously, so it's not as if someone has snatched him from under our noses.

News regarding Higuaín, however, is a little more troublesome. For the first time since I've started tracking him closely, the odds of him signing have fallen, from a high of 80% a week ago to 73% today. Along similar lines, the betting sites have started taking bets on him again, with us at 5/4 and Chelsea at 4/6, meaning that Chelsea has somehow emerged as favorites. By contrast, transfermarkt still rates this as a ?, so there's still hope. All the same, I worry. I tell myself that Higuaín wants no part of playing for Mourinho after shabby treatment at Real Madrid, but, for all I know, they're besties and can't wait to join up at Chelsea. Mourinho makes me nervous, I'll admit. Such is the way my paranoid mind works. We've been linked with Higuaín for so long and we've come agonizingly close. Once the club left for the Asia tour, though, I gave up on there being any news this week. With hope, the change in his status simply reflects an absence of any other real news.

Along similar lines, I'm hoping that all of the talk of Suarez is a smokescreen meant to distract us from the real behind-the-scenes dealing that will result in Higuaín's signing next week. I've dubbed it Wenger's Law: the more headlines there are around us signing a player, the less likely it is we'll sign him. Under this law, the Suarez story was meant to gobble up all of the headlines like they're so many Serbian defenders. Then, when everyone's obsessing over whether or not we should sign Suarez (something I swear I haven't done at all), Wenger calls a press conference to announce that we've signed Higuaín. Presto! Wenger's Law strikes again. I'm crossing my fingers.

In more-optimistic news, the likelihood of our signing Swansea's Ashley Williams has surged dramatically, almost doubling at transfermarkt from 24% to 42%. The betting sites agree that we're favorites for his signature with a betting line of 2/5. He'd be a nice addition, but I'm not feeling a huge tingle in any parts of my body when I hear his name. We already have three solid center-backs, and squad-depth is usually a Good Thing. This would be a good signing, but not the kind of paradigm-shifting addition that Gooners crave. He's only played two seasons of top-flight football (helping Swansea earn promotion, it must be said) but has done pretty well. However, whoscored rates him as weak in aerial duels and tackling. On the other hand, Swansea play an Arsenal-lite kind of football, so he might bed in more quickly than other center-backs we might consider.

Other players still on the peripheries are Fellaini (28%), Papadopolous (22%), Grenier (18%), and Rooney (17%). We'll continue to track these and others with the hope that something dramatic and exciting and, above all, factual, can be reported. Until then, this is the silly season in all of its, uh, glory.

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