Addressing Potential Midfield Targets

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My apologies for not posting anything in this space for about a week, but my writing time over the past few days was taken up by another task, composing an obituary and the eulogy for my grandmother’s funeral.

Being very close with Gram throughout my whole life, it was among the toughest of writing tasks I’ve had to take on. But hearing the eulogy I wrote being read by my sister at the funeral, and getting to spend time with some family and friends whom I had not seen in awhile (at the wake and after the funeral), was a comforting and refreshing experience.

Anyway, back to The Arsenal. It seems the “silly season” in European football is already in gear, with transfer rumors and early signings already making the news just days after domestic seasons have been completed.

And it seems a potential Arsenal target has signed elsewhere, as Gareth Barry will be joining Manchester City for the upcoming season. The former Aston Villa captain was rumored to be looking for a move to the Emirates and some Champions League football, but he apparently was lured by the influx of cash at Man City.

Barry and Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso have been the two most-talked about names (from the Premiership, at least) linked to the Gunners. And although I like both as players, I won’t be too upset if neither dons an Arsenal shirt this summer.

In fact, if we’re looking at the Liverpool midfield for a potential Arsenal target, I’d rather see Javier Mascherano as the Reds player heading to Arsenal. I believe the Argentinian is more the type needed to improve Arsene Wenger’s midfield, but I can’t imagine that Rafa Benitez would let Mascherano leave Anfield for North London.

Speaking of Man City as well as potential defensive midfield transfer targets for Arsenal, I’d also wonder if a Nigel DeJong or Vincent Kompany could be persuaded away from the City of Manchester Stadium, now that their club is out of European competition for the 2009-10 season. But as these two have only recently signed with Man City, I doubt a move away would take place this soon.

Wenger typically looks beyond the Premiership for incoming talent, and following that trend, it seems Arsenal may be after a couple of midfielders based in France. The British tabloid The Daily Mirror is among the media sources reporting that Wenger is tracking St Etienne midfielder Blaise Matuidi as well as Rennes midfielder Stephane Mbia.

The article states that Matuidi “has been recommended by Arsenal’s French scout Gilles Grimandi and fits the bill for Wenger.

“The powerful France youth international is valued at about £5million,” the story reads. “The Gunners are also looking at Rennes midfielder Stephane Mbia, who has 12 caps for Cameroon.”

Veteran Arsenal defender Kolo Toure would be among the current Gunners welcoming new signings, but the Ivory Coast defender believes that keeping the current squad together should be the summer’s top priority.

Speaking at the Legends and Youth Ball in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust and the Arsenal Charitable Trust, Toure addressed the topic, according to arsenal.com’s Declan Taylor.

“I think keeping the team together is the most important thing,” he told Taylor. “When you stay with your teammate for three or four years you start to learn how he plays.

“That helps you for the games, and I think we have been together for a while now. It’s important for our improvement next season,” added Toure.

“Sometimes when you bring somebody else, these players have to settle and that can take a year sometimes,” the Ivorian continued. “The Premier League is already difficult so if you play six months badly it’s difficult to come back.”

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