Tag Archives: Edinson Cavani

Transfer round-up: Cavani fizzles, Sanchez sizzles, Schneiderlin suggests…

The World Cup’s round of 16 has already offered a bit of drama, what with host-country Brazil defeating Chile thanks to the woodwork and the heroics of Julio Cesar, and with Uruguay failing to make up for the lost of Luis Suarez. Still, eight of the final 16 hail from the Western Hemisphere: Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, and your correspondent’s home-country, the U.S. For as proud as I may be for my half of the world’s showing thus far, I’m still drawn back to what all of the action means for Arsenal. To wit, I’m thrilled that Suarez is out of action for four months (and may be out of the Prem). I found myself doing double-takes as I at first cheered on the efforts of Mertesacker and Özil before realizing I was cheering against the U.S. Looking beyond that, though, the World Cup does offer Arsène a chance to vet a few players before tendering offers. With that in mind, who’s seizing the opportunity?

“My ‘come hither’ look. Hm? Hmm?”

At some level, we have to admit that it’s a bit silly to look at one World Cup match and judge a player on his performance. If nothing else, he’s probably playing a role very different from the one he plays for his current club or might play for Arsenal. At another level, many of these players are completely worn down, especially those whose clubs were involved in grueling league campaigns, Champions League campaigns, or travel related to their country’s preparation for and competition in this World Cup. That said, Arsène has found time to play some footy on the beach, so surely he’s sizing up the talent as well?

I gotta say, Edinson Cavani, for one, has not impressed. Whether it’s been in support of Luis Suarez or in replacing him, Cavani just hasn’t delivered. Yes, he did score against Costa Rica when Suarez was out, and he also delivered an assist in the defeat over England, but I feel like I haven’t seen enough from him, either in this World Cup or in his time with PSG, to justify the £70m or so we might have to pay to get him. Yes, he scored 16 goals in 25 starts and 5 sub-ins for PSG, but how well would that translate to the Prem? On one hand, he did have to defer to Zlatan, so that might suppress his tally. On the other, PSG obliterated Ligue 1 with a +61 goal-differential, so it’s hard to make much sense of his stats. He might be an upgrade on Giroud, but might that money be better spent elsewhere, especially when we have a fair number of other positions to address?

A better value for our money might be Alexis Sánchez, who has turned in a number of stellar performances for Chile, displaying tenacity and creativity enough to help Chile come within inches of defeating Brazil on Saturday. His play for Barcelona has been drool-inducing, with 19 goals and 10 assists from 27 starts and 7 sub-ins. Like Cavani, his stats might be inflated by Barcelona’s bullying of various La Liga sides, and they might again be suppressed by having to defer to Messi, but he could be had for half of Cavani’s asking-price. A rumored £32m is making the rounds, not bad for a 25-year old who might be poised for a dramatic leap forward after platooning at Barcelona.

Perhaps less salivating but more practical would be Morgan Schneiderlin, who hasn’t dazzled at the World Cup but who has enticed at various levels. Unlike Cavani or Sánchez, we can make a more-confident prediction about his future-performance. Not only has he played in the Prem for the last six years, he’s done so for Southampton who in many ways emulate some of the elements of Arsenal’s style. He’s savvy, a good distributor of the ball, and technically astute. These traits may not seem as sexy as the goals on offer from the likes of Cavani, Sánchez, or other strikers, but it’s possible that he could be had for a bargain-bin price close to £15m. What with the apparent exodus from St. Mary’s, this one might be far, far likelier than other rumors we’ve been hearing.

For those who worry about our scoring needs, consider that we were the fourth-highest scoring side in the Prem. Where might we have been, though, with the likes of Schneiderlin instead of, say, Arteta or Flamini, shielding the back four? There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and considering our multiple needs (keeper, right-back, defensive midfield, striker…), it might make more sense to build from the back than the other way ’round. We could probably address the first three for less than we’d spend for the fourth. While such an approach might feel anticlimactic, it might solidify the squad in more fundamental, substantial ways. The key, of course, lies with Arsène. Whether we’re talking about signing one player or four, regardless of the fees and wages involved, ultimatelly, it seems to come down to the whims of Wenger (I know it’s more like “Venga” but grant me the poetic license).

Let’s face it. He’s far more likely to sign three or four players, each in the £15-20m range, than he is to sign one in the £60-70m range. While practical and prudent, would that prove purposeful enough to see Arsenal climb from fourth (and relieved to be there) to something a bit more?

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Transfer round-up: Draxler, Cavani, and Fàbregas continue to flirt and seduce…

There’s not much actual football being played at the moment as we all hold our collective breath and wait for the World Cup to begin…in two weeks’ time. Sigh. You can bet your bottom-dollar that these days will be filled with all sorts of rumors, from the scurrilous to the sensational, but few if any offering much in the way of substance. It’s at this time of year that I turn to the betting sites—not because I’m a gamblin’ man but because I find their ruthless, cold-blooded assessment of all things transfer-related to be a breath of fresh air, if only by contrast with the click-bait on offer from The Daily Mail, The Sun, Bleacher Report, and others. It’s still early days, of course, and Arsène’s proclivity for leaving things late, whether they be substitutions or transfers, should never be underestimated. Still, though, there are some encouraging signs from the legitimate businessmen’s community…

The betting sites, for better or for worse, will make their money by assessing the collective wisdom of the unwashed masses. This is a step-up from preying on that collective wisdom, but it’s a step worth nothing. Whereas the various tabloids can make their money by getting the gullible to click on any headline that includes words like EXCLUSIVE or SHOCK or various other klaxons, we can count on the betting sites for a somewhat less-cynical approach: they assess the likelihood of a player’s move to another club and offer pay-outs based on how many people see the move happening and are willing to put their money where their mouths are. It’s a little less predatory and sordid than the usual silly-season folderol.

First, a quick primer. The fractional odds you’ll see below work like this: the first number (numerator*) you’ll see is the pay-out. The second number (denominator) is what you wager. For example, with Cesc at 7/4, you could wager £4 on him going to Arsenal. Should it happen, you’d net £7. You’d leave with £7 in your pocket—the original £4 you put down plus the £3 you won. If you’re looking to pay off a mortgage or finance a pricey addiction, you’ll hope to put down see odds expressed as a very large number all by itself, such as 33 (because the denominator, 1, just isn’t listed). These are the long-shots, the unlikely bets that are unlikely to come through but will pay out handsomely if they do. Therefore, for Gooners, what we hope to see is a numerator that is lower than the denominator, implying but not proving that the move is highly likely to go through. With that in mind, here is a quick run-down of the current odds around a few high-interest players…

Odds (source)
7/4 (skybet)
12 (Stanjames)
1/2 (skybet)
7/4 (skybet)
6 (betvictor)
10/3 (skybet)

 As you can see, some of the players we covet the most  still dangle just out of reach. Cavani (12) and Khedira (6)  look like long-shots. Even Griezmann (10/3) looks more  like a money-maker rather than a sure thing. More  optimistically, Benzema (7/4) is approaching a toss-up,  but I’ll reserve judgment on that. Suffice it to say that he  doesn’t “strike” me (ha ha) as a significant upgrade on  Giroud, with whom he competes for time in the French national team. Still, maybe a move away from Real Madrid would rejuvenate the man.

More salivatingly, perhaps, is the idea that Fàbregas is attracting similar odds (7/4). After all, for all of the wanton desire that has followed Cavani, the sentimental, romantic idea of a reunion with Fàbregas is almost incalculable. Yes, we have a glut of creative midfielders, and, yes, we really should focus on a striker. Then again, it’s Cesc. Cesc, scorer of sumptuous goals such as this one against Tottenham or this against Barcelona. The rumors swirling around his return are that much harder to ignore than the rumors around some other, random player regardless of stature. Is he superfluous to our needs? Perhaps. Would our minds be blown if he did return? Certainly.

Last, but perhaps not least, is Draxler. Among the players listed, he’s the most-likely to make a move. Plunk down £2 and win…£1? That’s hardly worth the effort, which suggests that skybet, among others, rates the move as more than likely. Take that with a huge grain of salt. Does this really mean that we’ll see Draxler at the Emirates come August? Meh. Maybe. Talk of his move has been mooted by suggestions that he can’t be converted from a wide position to striker. Other concerns center around the idea that his transfer-fee—some £40m or more at one point—is justified by his performance or his potential. Then again, the same question can be asked about any of these other players.

For now, given Arsène’s habits, we may have to content ourselves with little more than speculation. After all, we’ve again finished fourth in the Prem, which offers a bit of a fig-leaf to cover our shortcomings, and we’ve won the FA Cup, which has taken the monkey from our backs and run that monkey over several times in an SUV rented for just that occasion. Let us hope then that Arsène does not feel content with these accomplishments and instead sees the need to put his money, his well-saved and parsimoniously protected money, where his mouth is.

*if you muttered to yourself that “numerator” is Latin for “number eighter”, please let me know. We’re soulmates.

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£55m for Cavani? Let's go for 60!

Why not? If we were willing to offer £40m for Luis Suarez (yes, yes, plus one), why not up the offer just a touch for Cavani? Unlike that other Uruguayan, Cavani brings with him no baggage of the racist, bitey, divey, variety. What’s more, he’s apparently not happy with his role as second-fiddle to Zlatan, having to play wide instead of his preferred central position. Despite deferring to Zlatan, he’s still found time to deliver 25 goals in 42 appearances. The fact that this represents a drop from his delivery while with Napoli should make the prospect of his moving to Arsenal all the more drool-inducing.

Hmm. He’s got the proper sponsor

First, of course, the financials. His move from Napoli to PSG came with a fee of around £65m, with weekly wages certainly crossing the £200k line. To pry him from PSG would probably require something similar, although this might be a rare case when a player’s market value may have flat-lined or even dipped (which may reflect a certain glass ceiling to transfer-fees that only the biggest buffoons dare break. Florentino Perez, I’m thinking of you). If it reflects any doubts about Cavani’s ability, so much the better for us. The transfer-fee might gobble up most of our reported £100m kitty, leaving us precious little to spend on other needs. I’m not a big fan of papering over deficiencies, but if Cavani were to rediscover the form that saw him scoring upwards of 30 goals a season, we might be able to get by with only three centre-backs for another season, for example. If Cavani can rediscover that form, we would have a legitimate shot at progressing ever-deeper in the Champions League while also contending for the Prem title as well, and the earnings from such achievements is not to be sniffed at.

As to form, a fair amount of whatever “dip” he may have suffered derives largely from where he plays, not how well. At Napoli, he was the number-one option, and deservedly so. At this best, he’s easily among the most-lethal strikers in the world. He may not be at Zlatan’s level, but few are. Put Cavani back at center, and maybe we’ll see him contending for the Golden Boot. Even Cavani himself has admitted to some dissatisfaction with his role at PSG, saying the following:

I’ve been playing in a position that isn’t mine for the year now. I’ve waited until the end of the championship to bring this up. I will have to sit down with the club and discuss the issue…I am a striker and I would like to play in that position.

As long as Zlatan rules the roost at PSG, Cavani will almost never get a chance to play striker, at least not regularly.  Should Cavani make the switch to Arsenal, he’d immediately become the #1 striker, reprising the role he played to such acclaim at Napoli. Heck, he might even relish the prospect of besting Suarez for the Golden Boot and establishing himself as Uruguay’s #1 striker in the process. It may be too late for Brazil 2014, but Brazil 2016 is after all just two years later (if my math is to be trusted). If Cavani wants to prove himself for his country, switching clubs might be his best bet.

Would Arsène consider such a move? It’s hard to see it, to be honest. Just eight months removed from shattering his previous transfer-fee record, would he loosen the purse-strings for a second summer in a row? In his own words, Arsène has said, “”For me, for £60million a guy must take the ball at the kick-off and score every time he touches the ball.” Now, that’s a bit of a lofty standard. Fábregas more or less pulled it off once upon a time, but it’s hardly realistic to pull that off more than once in a while. Still, Cavani’s haul of 26, 23, and 29 league goals while playing striker for Napoli in the cynically defensive Serie A suggest that he could go a long way towards convincing Arsène of his value.

With Chelsea apparently zeroing in on Costa, and Man City and PSG both sweating FFP sanctions, we alone might be able to entice Cavani to make the switch. Champions League football? Check. League title contention? Check. A chance to lead the line? Check. Ambition enough? Ummm….maybe.

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EXCLUSIVE SHOCK TRANSFER as Arsenal swoop for stars [satire]

LONDON – In a stunning series of moves designed as much to strengthen the Arsenal squad as to hit out at critics, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger announced a stunning number of transfer-signings, besting rivals Chelsea and Man City to a number of them, outspending them in ways that seemed motivated by spite more than strategy.

“Is it a little bit ambitious on our part? I don’t know. Are these players signed to display top, top quality? I don’t know about that either, and it is too early to talk about that,” Wenger, grinning, said as he spoke to a crowd of reporters who had hastily assembled outside of the club’s training ground.

As stunning as the number of moves is the calibre of players signed. Nowhere among them is a heretofore undiscovered French ingenue for the backwaters of Ligue 2. Indeed, none of them even speaks French. “Is it little bit true that some of them did not speak French? I cannot speculate, only that each offered a certain je ne sais quoi. Did the player say this? I believe no. Perhaps he exuded it instead. Overall, there is top, top quality in a footballistic sense that we shall soon see.”

Indeed, among the raft of signings announced were none other than Diego Costa, Edinson Cavani, Toni Kroos, Julian Draxler, and Ángel Di María, and it appears true that none of them speaks a word of French. “Is it true that Draxler has not even tasted a little bit French toast? This is my press conference. I look at you because you give wrong informations. Can we get some questions about Sunday’s game? I only ask.” When pressed for details regarding Cavani, Wenger shot back, visibly agitated: “Do I know if he has made a French kiss a little bit behind the bleacher? I cannot speculate on this, only to say that he looked a little bit dazed. Was there a little bit lip niggle? You tell me. Look, this is a press conference to announce that we have signed players of top, top quality. You ask why I sign players who are French, and now you ask why they are not French enough. It is a little bit, how do you say, aggravating?”

The Mirror’s John Cross pressed on, wondering if the sheer number of signings, not to mention their total cost, might get subject the club to scrutiny from UEFA for violating the spirit and letter of FFP. “I don’t talk about UEFA or FFP today. I only talk of this squad and its ambitions. We have an FA Cup final to prepare for. There will be time to talk of this FFP later, I promise.”

Undeterred, Neil Ashton of The Daily Mail inquired about whether Wenger was worried about UEFA sanctions in the wake of investigations of Manchester City and PSG, among others. “You will miss me when I am gone, I am sure of this. For now, is it a little bit disappointment to you learn that we have set aside for the fee? I believe it is £50m, which is the fee they charge of Man City. Plus £1. Just in case.”

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Ask Cavani, whither the brasileiros or argentinos at Arsenal?

Could it really be possible that Arsène Wenger, renowned for revolutionizing English football by bringing in foreign players, has completely missed the boat that brings South American footballers to the Continent? I was watching some older clips when I caught a brief glimpse of Silvinho and I muttered to myself, “he might just be the only inho to have ever played for Arsenal”. He was no Ronaldinho, and that only serves to reinforce the point. The pipeline that has sent the likes of Ronaldinho, Messi, Falcao, and Agüero, among others, to Europe seems to have almost completely bypassed Arsenal. Arsenal’s South American starting XI would be short a few players, and we’d have to argue over whether Silvinho or the “legendary” André Santos starts at left-back. For a manager who has built a large part of his reputation on finding and developing diamonds in the rough, how could we be left with such slim pickings?

Silva eluding Scholes and Keane. It’s been that long…

It’s not been for lack of trying, at least recently, as we spent large chunks of last summer’s tranfer-window pursuing Gonzalo Higuaín, Luis Suárez, Luiz Gustavo, and Ángel di María only to come up short on each for various reasons. Looking back to the start of Arsène’s 17 years at Arsenal, I would think we’d have seen a few more brasileiros or argentinos come through, what with the reputation/stereotype for being technically superior to their European or African counterparts. It is the land of joga bonito, after all; even more, Arsenal under Arsène have often striven to play a similarly technical, aesthetic game (even to the point of neglecting defense and, at times, losing beautifully instead of winning ugly).

However, we can almost count the South Americans to have made an appearance at Arsenal with one hand. Wellington Silva. André Santos. Damían Martínez. Eduardo. Baptista. Pedro Botelho. Denílson. Gilberto Silva. Edú. Silvinho. Perhaps alone among them is Silva, who did distinguish himself in his time at Arsenal, Pressed to another who has left an impression, much less impressed, we might just have to shrug our shoulders and go with, I don’t know, Denilson. Some of them, to be fair, haven’t yet had much of a chance, such as Wellington Silva, Botelho, and Martínez. Others looked promising only to have injuries cut short their time and opportunities. Eduardo, for example, Edu, or Denilson. Where might their careers have gone were it not for those injuries (especially Eduardo’s, whose injury rivals that of Aaron Ramsey for gut-turning horror-shows)?  Others, like Baptista and Santos, just never impressed.

How can this be? We see South Americans making immense contributions to other clubs, whether it’s Ramires, Oscar, Willian, and Luiz at Chelsea; Agüero, Fernandinho, and Zabaleta at Man City; Suarez and Coutinho at Liverpool…heck, even Tottenham have Paulinho, for crissakes. Why not Arsenal? Has Arsène have been put off by previous experiences, such as with Santos, deciding instead to focus on Francophone countries and England? There have been countless rumors linking us to all sorts of Brazilian or Argentinian players, for what that’s worth, but nothing has come of any of it. It seems a that Arsène, once a vanguard for introducing players to the Prem from across the Channel and further afield, hasn’t been able to replicate similar successes across the Atlantic. There have been flashes of potential, moments of brilliance, but all too few success-stories. As we bemoan the lack of a clinical striker, someone who is deft but also lethal with the ball at his feet, we’re left to gaze wistfully at Suarez, Higuaín, Agüero, and others. Similarly, for as much as we may loathe Ramires or mock Luiz, it’s perhaps no accident that the grit and tenacity we lack in the defensive midfield was once provided by Silva and Vieira (admittedly a bit of stretch from his Portuguese background via Cape Verde, but bear with me on that).

As we look ahead to the summer-transfer window and assess our needs, I’m not calling for a plethora of South American signings just to keep up with those we’re chasing in the Prem, but each of them has at least one difference-maker who hails from Brazil, from Argentina, from Uruguay. There’s something in that, to be sure. Mr. Cavani, if you’re reading this, would you give Arsène a call? We’d be ever so grateful…

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