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October 2016
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Wenger prepares to buy replacement for Coquelin. Trouble is the replacement is injured

The 20 players Arsenal are apparently just about to sign
By Sir Hardly Anyone.
There has been a change in the way that some newspapers are reporting the stories of transfers this January, with anxious editors trying hard to distance themselves from the utter fantasy world of the bloggettas and instead look as if they are serious.  Unfortunately when journalists have a drink and let their imaginations go for a wander, the results can be, well, disilluminating.
So here is a list of what they have come up with as possible purchases.  And yes they really are touting no less than 20 names at present [actually there are only 19 – Tony] – and by the time you read this there will be many more.  (You might also want to work out where to play all the other players we have available, although you can allow for the fact that only one in four new expensive signings makes an immediate impact).
1.  William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)
Central midfield injury crisis.  The four words now, by a law just rushed through the House of Comics, which have to be written as part of every report on Arsenal.
He is a Portugal international and has a release clause of £37m discounted to £35m in some papers, or even £25m in the discount rags, but Real Madrid are “poised to lure” William Carvalho to do something.  Chelsea also want him which means he probably fades out after about five games.
But here’s the thing – he is injury prone, so the press all say Arsenal will sign him.  He fractured his tibula at the European Under-21 Championships and immediately said, “I dream of winning the Primeira Liga here. I prefer not to say too much but there is a club with which I’ve always been fond of: Arsenal.”

2.  Alvaro Morata (Juventus)

Described by those with limited vocabulary as a top class centre forward.  He is also “only 23” and is already a top class centre forward.  (Told you so).  He is with Juventus but Los Galacticos (a mountain range in central Spain) can bring him back with payment of around £21m.  Which would then raise multiple ??? about Karim Benzema’s future as a naughty boy so Arsenal could get the cast off.

3. Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla)
One of those players whose names keep coming up whenever a journalist takes a piece of paper with a list of clubs with money on one side, and supposedly good players on the other.  He plays with the wonderfully named Ever Banega and is called a “no nonsense” defender which means he would be sent off five minutes into his first match for Arsenal and then be injured making his way down the tunnel.
One slight difficulty is he signed a new contract with Sevilla in November.  But hey.  Contracts?  Who needs ’em.

4.  “Bayer Leverkusen give Arsene Wenger green light to sign Lars Bender’

This one must be true because it is in the Telegraph.    Germany’s Lars Bender is “likely to be out until at least the New Year with an ankle injury.”   So of course the papers line him up for Arsenal.  A theme, you may notice, is developing.

“Bender would bring experience and authority to Arsenal’s central midfield.”  Oh so Ozil doesn’t?

5.  “Icardi is not part of the football family” – Maradona. 

He has what the upper class press call a “rather lurid personal life played out in the tabloids”.  Arsene Wenger is “preparing a huge January offer” for the Inter player according to those who know nothing about such things.

This is because we only have Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck.  Icardi wouldn’t get injured like they do (well two of the three) but he would probably be “not in the right frame of mind” a lot, so he’s ideal for the media.  The cost is £30m plus some legal fees to settle outstanding affairs.

As 22 he became “the youngest capocannoniere” (that is top goal scorer to the likes of you and me) in the Serie A since Paolo Rossi in 1978.   But this is Italy.  Top goal scorer means four goals.

Icardi said recently, “I’m a striker and I can only score if the ball gets to me. In 10 games I received four decent passes and scored three goals. That seems like a good average to me.”

6.  Ilkay Gundogan, Borussia Dortmund

He’s 25, which is what make the press think that Arsene Wenger will sign him.  The one thing that makes this just slightly possible is that he could play in the Coquelin role and then move into any other midfield position.

7.  Daniele Rugani – Juventus

Rugani joined Juve but there is some sort of deal that has had him at Empoli for two years only to fail to make any appearances for Juventus when he returned.  But that’s Italy for you.  Prepare headline: “Arsenal sign Juventus flop.”

8.  Rico Henry Walsall

He is a left back, and someone called him the “next Ashley Cole” which is enough to frighten most people away.   Cue newspaper talk of “Arsenal have struggled to convince at left-back since Gael Clichy left the club with Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs both failing to lock down to position”.  Honest that is an actual quote  from the Independent, cut and pasted in a whole raft of other publications.   On that basis he’s ours.  Also on that basis the Indy really ought to hire a journalist.

9.  Adrien Rabiot, Paris St Germain

22 years old (or 20 depending on the paper you read) playing in attack, or further back.  But worries abound about the physical side of his game so he could go to Tottenham.   Or Roma.  But he could come in and replace Coquelin and then move positions when he recovers from injury.

10.  Gonzalo Higuian – Napoli

Famously seen at the airport as the football world shuffled around the move of Ozil to Arsenal and Bale to Real Mad, the press still hark back to him when there is not much else to write about.   Benitez left in the summer and he was demanding Higuain stayed, and Chelsea are desperate for anyone who can run around a bit.

11.  Riechedly Bazoer, Ajax

Another central midfielder, he said no to Arsenal when he was 16.  Once again a player who has multiple uses around midfield.  Cue: Arsenal buy yet another midfielder shock horror.  Oh yes he is injured, so that’s it then.  A certainty.

12.  Karim Benzema, Real Madrid

“The transfer rumour that just will not die” as one paper put it.  “The journalists who are too lazy even to seek out a story,” is more likely.

Here’s another goodie: “Real Madrid may take a dim view if Benzema is convicted for alleged involvement in the Mathieu Valbuena sex tape blackmail plot.  Similarly, Arsenal may not be too keen to sign him then, either.”

Cue tears in my eyes.  That’s why I love writing this column.  “May not be too keen” on a signing a player about to spend four years in prison?  Oh surely not.

13.  Vincent Koziello, Nice

Played 21 times for Nice as an attacking midfielder about the same height as Santi Caz so he could stand next to Mert in the line ups while Santi is out.

14.  Michy Batshuayi – Marseille

He is 22, he is a striker, plays for Belgium and Chelsea want him of course.  £35m is the price.   The 22-year-old striker is believed to be “on the radar” (what does that really mean in your actual day to day life???) of both Arsenal and Chelsea.  Marseille know oil money when it appears through the door and have put the price up to £35m.

15.  Ruben Neves, Porto

Hey look here is a defensive midfielder for just £22m.  Chelsea want him.  Oh that means £30m now.

16.  Andrija Zivkovic, Partizan Belgrade

The youngest player ever to play for Serbia, and now captain of Partizan at 19.  Chelsea want him.   The Serbian Messi he is called.  So that’s good then.

17.  Alexandre Pato, Corinthians

AC Milan striker, now on loan in Sao Paulo with Corinthians.  A loan option because with Theo and Giroud fit, we don’t have any strikers.  Er….

18.  Jese Rodriguez 

“Arsenal could deal with Alexis Sanchez’s absence through injury by signing Real Madrid starlet Jese Rodriguez up front.”   And then when Alexis is back in a few weeks?  Oh.   Yes this signing means that we get Rodriguez just as Sanchez is ready to play again, which makes the normal sort of sense of any transfer.

Here’s a really funny take on this.  “Arsenal have been linked with Jese in the past, though his future will likely hinge on what happens with Karim Benzema in the wake of the Mathieu Valbuena sextape scandal.”  Oh really?

He has had a serious knee injury so that sounds like Arsenal’s sort of player (in fact I am sure the people who make all this up now do this.  Who is injured?  Oh right, create the rumour about Arsenal).

19.  Abdelhak Nouri, Ajax

“Louis van Gaal sets sights on wonderkid” says the headline and Arsenal are pursuing him.  Yes it is Louis van Gaal against Steve Rowley, with Tottenham, Southampton, Everton and PSG hanging on the coat tails.

“United and Arsenal are tracking the attacking midfielder ahead of a potential swoop,” according to the all-seeing Daily Mail.  Actually I really want to print their whole report…

Ajax teenager Abdelhak Nouri is being pursued by both Manchester United and Arsenal.

The 18-year-old, a youth international for Holland, has attracted interest from clubs across Europe

Louis van Gaal is taking particular interest in United’s pursuit of Nouri given his close links with the Amsterdam club.

Indeed, Gunners chief scout Steve Rowley has made several personal checks on the talented teen.

However, the Premier League’s big-guns are not the only clubs keen on Nouri.

Scouts from Tottenham, Southampton and Everton have watched Nouri extensively in recent months.

Scouts from Tottenham, Southampton and Everton have also watched Nouri extensively in recent months

Louis van Gaal, who has close links to Ajax, is taking a personal interest in signing the Dutch youngster

Likewise, Paris Saint Germain and Marseille are also showing a keen interest.

Ajax are understandably keen to keep their promising youngster, who captains Ajax and Holland’s Under-19 teams.

Nouri is expected to become a regular in the Ajax senior squad before the end of the season.

However, the Dutch giants may decided to fast-track the youngster into Frank de Boer’s set-up in an attempt to convince Nouri his future remains in the Dutch capital.

After that I don’t think I can go on any further.  You can make up number 20 yourself.


Anniversaries – the full list of anniversaries can be found here

7 December 1909: Henry Norris, acting as Mayor of Fulham, helped the Church Commissioners save face after there was public uproar over the Church’s decision to rent its land in a residential area to an oil storage company.  The event undoubtedly led to a rapport which Norris used in his favour when renting Highbury.

7 December 1940: Jack Lambert (Arsenal’s reserve coach) died in car accident aged 38.  He had played 143 league games for Arsenal and scored an amazing 98 league goals making him the most prolific goalscorer who played over 100 games in Arsenal’s history.

The Untold Books

Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football, is now available on Kindle at £9.99.  For more details and to buy a copyplease click here or go to Amazon Kindle and search forWoolwich Arsenal.

Forthcoming titles:

  • The Arsenal Yankee  By Danny Karbassiyoon
  • Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970.  By John Sowman.  Introduction by Bob Wilson.

24 comments to Wenger prepares to buy replacement for Coquelin. Trouble is the replacement is injured

  • Iwould like to see Ilkay Gundogan and Karima Benzema In Arsenal Squard january

  • John

    We arent signing Kallstrom again???

  • nicky

    I think we should wait until February 1st before we worry about any new signings.
    If we play well in Greece and particularly if we qualify for the CL k/o stage, Arsene may well say we don’t need to reinforce the team this season.
    At least that’s what Andy1886 told me earlier today and I agree with him. 😉

  • para

    Disillusioned people, we are not signing any players in Jan unless we get more injuries. The 2nd squad is getting games and will get better, especially over xmas.

    It looks like we should not take the CL game coming up that seriously(of course we cannot say that) but due to “injuries” we can play some of the youth.

    Within a month or so we will see the Arsenal we love to watch play as the injured return. We have so many players on loan too gaining valuable experience and some of them will claim their place and on top of that, look at our position in the PL with all those injuries. 🙂

  • Pat

    I admire your hard work, Sir Hardly Anyone, in compiling this list. Amazing how journalists spend their time.

    I was having a look at our under 18 goal scorers. It’s exciting to see what might be coming our way soon. One of them, Jeff Reine Adelaide, we’ve already seen in action.

    They never get a mention in the papers. Transfers is an absolute obsession. You can almost see Arsene Wenger sigh when he is asked yet another question about transfers during a press conference. Especially when there are so many more interesting things they could ask him.

  • John

    Why would anyone not want to see some new signings at the emirates?Surely a couple of quality additions in January will be good competion for places and give us a needed boost after a few of our recent dodgy performances.

  • proudkev

    This entire subject gets recycled by the media and their mates the moaners.

    Take this headline in the media:
    “Arsenal crock Santi Cazorla’s SEASON could be over”


    Santi Cazorla has played 18 games this season. Last season he played 53 times. The season before he played 46 times. The season before 49 times. But he’s described as a ‘crock’…!

    Oh dear, it really is pretty pathetic.

    “Arsenal have a weak squad”
    Look at Man City. They had no Nasri, Kompany, Aguero and Toure yet you dont get the media and City fans going on about their fitness team being hopeless or their squad weak. This is a team that have outspent virtually everyone. Aqueros hamstring injury does not get bl;amed on their manager, despite this being a recurring injury. The fact is, you can’t have two of every top class player!! Injuries are a part of the game and losing top players weakens the team – that’s a fact.

    The media really are stirrers – probably because they know we have a section of fans so afflicted by the agenda disease.

    Come the New Year when all the injured players are back, we will be overloaded with options. I suspect any decision the club takes on signings will be based on return dates – not on the FFM’s demands or their equally desperate mates in the media.

    So what is the desperate situation at Arsenal?

    Theo, Ox and Ramsey – all back from injury this weekend, although the media have been pretty quiet about that.

    Due back soon:
    Jack and Danny are both looking to be back January.

    So thats 5 players returning before the transfer window closes.

    Coquelin is back end of January, reportedly, but we should have an update soon. That makes 6.

    We should also remember that Joel Campbell is in our squad and has done a good job to cover, which hasn’t been reported much.

    So lets look at the options we have with the returning players:

    Ramsey can play centrally, Jack can play centrally. Flamini can play centrally.

    Campbell, The Ox and Danny Welbeck can play wide with the latter also able to play down the middle.

    Theo can play up front, so too can Danny Wellbeck and Giroud.

    Another point people are missing is that these returning players will all be FRESH. This is a much under appreciated benefit for the run in.

    “Sign some fking players”
    We all like to see quality signings but sometimes I think fans obsess too much. Its the Fantasy Football Manager element, whereby they believe every new signing they SAY we should make, will make the team stronger. In reality, there is no guarantee for many reasons. I am not saying you shouldn’t buy to improve the team, I am saying that it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. Otherwise we would have replaced Ozil with Cesc, and we would have Balotelli and Falcao stinking the place out up front.

    We’ve got a great squad, with many of the injured players all returning and I dont think we need to panic buy yet. Despite what the media and the FFM will have us all beleive.

  • John

    I admire your positivity but how many of our like a new signings in january can you trust to stay fit??Welbeck is recovering from a serious knee injury and will take time as will Jack with his dodgy ankles.And coquelin is sidelined for a minimum of 3 months as is cazorla .Those two in my mind are pretty irreplacable and anyone who comes in for them are nowhere near their quality.

  • proudkev


    That is a fair question and the answer is I don’t know.

    All I can say is that having Theo, Ramsey and the Ox back improves our squad/team. When Jack and Welbeck come in, yet again we are improved.

    I dont know how fit and ready they will be or how many games they need to get match fit but they all have quality.

    Any new player will take time to adapt to the Premier League and the team so I am not sure we can be certain that a new addition is better than what we have in that regard. I also doubt there will be that much quality in January.

    I am just trying to add a bit of realism and point out that we have good players returning and that there is no guarantee new signings will improve the team. I am not against new signings but they need to be better than whst we have, available and even then it is likely to take time to adjust. And even they may get injured, the Premier League is a physically demanding league as all imports say.

    The same is true of any new signings; How do we know they wont get injured, that they will settle, that they will play as expected? We were told not signing Cesc was a mistake, that Balotelli and Benteke were better than Giroud, Falcao was available, Di Maria would take Man Utd to the top.

  • syd

    All the injured players have decent backup except Le Coq, Flamini and Arteta are not up to the task and are a liability and only Chambers has attempted to play this position. We will continue to struggle defensively without protection so I personally would rather see Chambers thrown in at the deep end to see if he sinks or swims. As for buying player’s for the sake of buying then no! Only buy if top quality is available.

  • Usama Zaka

    About Ruben Neves of Porto, Arsenal have sent the their scouts for Porto’s 4th consecutive match. I think our former player Luis Boa Morte is currently working as Arsenal’s scout in Portugal, correct me if I am wrong.

  • Pete

    Syd – Why do you think Flamini is a liability? Think he has done fine this season when called upon. My concern is that HE may get injured.

  • John

    I agree that new signings are not guaranteed to improve the team but its likely they will.If we dont sign anyone of note and fall away in the title race would you acept that the manager has to take the blame for not strengthening the team and keeping the money in the bank??

  • syd

    Why do I think Flamini is a liability? Probably because he is not disciplined enough to do the job lacks pace mistimes his tackles which inevitably ends up with an early booking all of which makes him a liability and anyone who thinks he is good enough to sustain a serious challenge…..think again because he isn’t

  • proudkev


    I’m always careful with that word ‘if’. To be honest, yes I would like cover for Coquelin however I wasnt one of those that wanted him replaced with Scheneiderlin. My issue is whether or not that cover is available in January. As I said, I think we have a great squad but inuries have weakened it.

    Not sure I agree with the comment “keeping the money in the bank”; That has become typical media and WOB recycled narrative to suggest Wenger doesnt like spending. For years he couldn’t spend while the others went big, so he had no choice.

    As soon as he could he bought Ozil and Sanchez. Unlike other teams who spent big on individual players, Wengers signings have been worth the money. Spending big on a player is a game of risk and its not as easy as the FFM’s think it is.

    Wenger will take a view on where we are with the returning players and if he decides we need someone, he will assess who is available (not so easy). He’s bought in january before so it’s not impossible. Down to need, quality and availablility I suspect John.

  • nicky

    Agree with you entirely about Flamini. He has never let the side down and always gives 100% effort. My only regret is that at 31 his time at the Emirates is numbered.
    I’m sure all true supporters of our great Club appreciate his worth.

  • Gord

    I think the last time I posted the referee assignments, I got a dislike fairly quickly. Oh well, …

    The next appointments, Kevin won’t be our Friend on Sunday.

    For some reason, Hatzidakis has lost his first name (at

    Saturday 12 December 2015
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    17:30 Bournemouth – Man Utd _ _ _ _Anthony Taylor _ G Beswick _ S Burt _ _ J Moss
    15:00 Crystal Palace – Southampton Mike Dean _ _ _ _S Long _ _ _A Holmes _ R East
    15:00 Man City – Swansea _ _ _ _ _ Robert Madley _ _P Kirkup _ _Hatzidakis M Clattenburg
    12:45 Norwich – Everton _ _ _ _ _ _Martin Atkinson _M Mullarkey S Child _ _M Oliver
    15:00 Sunderland – Watford _ _ _ _ Graham Scott _ _ A Garratt _ M Wilkes _ K Friend
    15:00 West Ham – Stoke _ _ _ _ _ _ Andre Marriner _ S Ledger _ _E Smart _ _K Hill
    Sunday 13 December 2015
    K.O. _ _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    13:30 Aston Villa – Arsenal _ _ _ _Kevin Friend _ _ D Bryan _ _ D Cann _ _ J Moss
    16:00 Liverpool – West Brom _ _ _ _Craig Pawson _ _ R West _ _ _A Halliday T Harrington
    16:00 Spurs – Newcastle _ _ _ _ _ _Roger East _ _ _ L Betts _ _ M Scholes _M Dean
    Monday 14 December 2015
    K.O. _ _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    20:00 Leicester – Chelsea _ _ _ _ _Mark Clattenburg S Beck _ _ _J Collin _ G Scott

  • John

    Why should it always be cover for a player??Surely it should be competition for Coq .That would be ideal wouldnt it?Surely every player we have should be under pressure about their place in the team .Pressure to perform in any job is good and brings the best out of people.

  • Dec


  • Andy Mack

    The manager understands that new players rarely hit the ground running in the Jan window, so he rarely buys them thinking they’ll effect this season. The only real exception I can think of was Arshavin who kept us in a CL position in his first half season but then blew hot and cold for the rest of his contract. He usually buys in Jan for the next season (get them used to the team/squad/Arsenal way and then give him a pre-season), or as temp emergency cover (good ol’ Kim).
    Which way will he go in the next window….

  • Mick

    So who is the competition for Ozil, for Sanchez etc.
    Almost every position in the team has a ‘best’ player and if everyone is fit it is those players who collectively constitute our best team. It is simply ridiculous to expect two players of comparable quality to be available for every position, which is what you seem to be demanding.
    Who provides competition for Aguero or Kompany or Silva at Man City, who provides competition for Hazard at Chelsea?
    Its the same at every club. You get the picture?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Yup , another quiet January transfer window will do nicely for me . Am surely not going to lose any sleep on the last day when it closes.
    Just hoping for fit , eager and healthy squad in the new year . Go Gunners !

  • Good piece Hardly…. Although…. You forgot to mention the player that we will sign on loan this Jan….


  • naija gunner

    We need players whether you agree or not.. Injuries will come at any time and then we all blame Wenger.. We need a defender or defensive midfielder and a striker or creative midfielder… I will suggest wanyama or bender or even imbula and as for attackers isco or lacazette or any pacey strong striker.. Giroud is average cause he lacks pace.. Honestly half of our players will soon pass their prime for instance.. Arteta, carzola, monreal, falmini, rosicky , per BfG, name them.. And most of those sent on loan aren’t even bring given adequate game time.. Gnarbry, sanogo, wellington amongst few.. We need players and we need to offload toooo