The Next Vieira?
The second of The Beck’s three-parter summarizing the current manager’s signings before asking in his third and final post: has Arsene still ‘got it’ when it comes to signing players good enough for Arsenal?
In 2005, as well as the January transfer window of 2006, we signed Diaby, Adebayor, Walcott, Vela, Song, Mannone, Hleb and Mart Poom and Fabrice Muamba, Bendtner, J-E-T, Gilbert, Simpson and Stokes graduated from the youth set up.
That summer saw us lose the talisman of the team, the captain Patrick Vieira, who had been reportedly if inexplicably longing for a move to Madrid for quite a while before his eventual departure to Juventus.
Many saw Diaby as Vieira’s replacement but when Diaby started playing on the left side of midfield and cutting inside, many believed he’d have a more attacking role. Diaby’s career has been all but ruined by injuries and only the boss will know when his time is up. In his time with us, he’s shown considerable quality and power. I consider him an asset, a great squad player and it seems other managers think he’s the first player on the French National team when fit.
Adebayor and Walcott were seen as eventual successors to Henry. Adebayor left for Man City for an unbelievable sum after one great season and another one, average in hindsight (she can also not be a bitch). Walcott is of course still with us, doing well and getting better. Flamini performed admirably as a makeshift left back before being switched back to the midfield department, his partnership with Cesc successfully covering all bases but he never forgot that money is the most important thing in the world when leaving on a free to Milan (which I can imagine not many blame him for; there are numerous theories out there that make him look both favourable and unfavourable).
Hleb was quite the skilful player, his low centre of gravity helped him to produce wonders, but his low percentage in finishing disappointed. One that should also have stayed, but opted to play for Barcelona and wrote countless poems at night to Arsene, admitting that he’d made the biggest mistake of his life.
Song essentially did the same to us as Hleb and will probably regret it too. Vela has had an up and down start to his career due to loans but finally seems settled at Sociedad, though we’re all still in love with his dinky goals; maybe too in love.
Bendtner got more of a chance than Aliadiere to prove his worth after loan spells, but was destined to be the Danish bad boy and despite showing promise, is now only promising to annoy Arsenal fans more by running down his contract until he gets a better offer or a signing bonus with a new club.
The other youths from that year, as well as Poom, never really proved themselves at the club, even as we were competing for both the title and the top four spots.
In the summer of 2006, Arsene purchased Tomas Rosicky, as well as William Gallas in a swap deal with Ashley Cole and cash (in hindsight they got the better part of the deal; like I said, bitch). He also signed a young Denilson and loaned out Reyes to Madrid and in return got a man with a rib cage the size of an elephant – Julio Baptista.
Rosicky’s been hampered by injuries but he’s stuck around and the club stuck around him and in the latter years has been a great and experienced squad player, filled with quality, but possibly not the player he could have been.
Denilson had great qualities but was always mocked for being too simple in his play and his backwards/sideways passes. He never had the imposing figure of Gilberto or Vieira (which counts a lot to fans, but perhaps not the manager). He made a few personal errors and was never forgiven for them by the fans, nor, ultimately in this instance, the manager, it seems.
Gallas endured a solid spell at centre back but never seemed to get along with Toure and it all fell apart for him two years later at St Andrews. I always thought him to be a good captain and a great player, but at the wrong club. His winning mentality did not seem to mix well with the young players who still had some mistakes left in their system.
Baptista enjoyed a few days in the sun during the Carling Cup Campaign which led us to the final, but he never seemed agile enough to compete at the highest level and Arsene decided not to keep him after the season-long loan.
In 2007, we signed Diarra, Sagna, Eduardo, Fabianski and the world famous Pedro Botelho.
Diarra wanted first team action and with Flamini and Gilberto hogging the limelight, he became very impatient and left after feeling he was denied his ‘guaranteed’ starts. After a solid spell at Portsmouth he transferred to Real Madrid and had a good few seasons there before almost retiring at Anzhi Makhachkala.
Sagna has been the most consistent right back we’ve had and has performed admirably throughout his time at the club. We may even be seeing a transition into centre ‘Bac’ (geddit?!), in order to lengthen his time at the club.
Eduardo was brilliant until his leg break, which I witnessed at St Andrews, in person. It was horrible, just the worst thing. We Arsenal fans doubtless all retain the firm belief that the title was ours that year had it not been for that leg-break and, surprise, surprise, a few van Persie injuries.
Fabianski has shown classy qualities but also, in the past, seemed a tad error-prone. At the age of 28, he should be reaching his prime for the club assuming a summer move away doesn’t tempt him ahead of a World Cup year.
Pedro Botelho is a myth.
In the 2008/09 season, we suffered a slow start and signed Arshavin in the 2009 January Transfer Window, he was our record signing and at the time of writing, still is.
We signed Silvestre who turned out to be a man ready with errors confusingly mixed with some solid displays.
Ramsey rejected United for us. He suffered a nasty leg break at Stoke and after widespread abuse – largely from some of our own fans – has since turned it all around and now looks to be a Welsh Schweinsteiger. Or just his own Aaron Ramsey.
Samir Nasri was a player that initially never looked like he wasn’t going to produce from his silky ball control but who eventually did before getting his head turned by City three years later after one good season. Samir is now looking for part-time work as a toilet salesman because it’s got to be better than sitting on that bench.
Bischoff doesn’t exist. He just doesn’t.
In 2008, Merida, Wilshere, Szczesny , Watt and Barazite were invited to have a look at the first team, but only Wilshere and Szczesny have made it and look to be consistent and great enough to hold a place in the Arsenal team. It could be argued that Ramsey’s development has eclipsed Wilshere, but I’m sure Jack will catch up after a good pre-season under his belt. Szczesny seems to need good competition and will only grow to become a better keeper with experience and competition.
In 2009 we saw Vermaelen being the only major recruit. With Sulzeer coming back as a blast from the past and many young players being given the chance to shine. Vermaelen came out action-packed that season and offered so much promise, but after being made captain, has made many personal errors and despite his obvious quality, is yet to make it back into the starting line-up due to other players simply being better and more consistent.
The Beck can be located on Twitter @The_Beck_