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Fast forward as some of you reading this try to digest that statement – it struck me that Arsenal were exploring the possibility of signing Arturo Vidal AND Jackson Martinez as the summer window draws nearer! Well if you have been following football for a while, you very well know who these beasts are.
These two (hopefully with a defensive signing) possess what the Gunners need to mount a title challenge. Many have doubted Arsenal’s potential to win the league title ahead of Chelsea and a rather aging Man City side – but these two could be the missing piece in the jigsaw!
If Arturo Vidal and Jackson Martinez arrive in the coming months, the prospect of snapping that 11 year-old league title drought suddenly does become realistic.
First things first! In his native Chile, they’re convinced Juventus midfielder Vidal will be an Arsenal player before the start of next season. In Turin, the rumor mill is also churning over, with claims Sami Khedira’s imminent arrival from Real Madrid is designed to cover Vidal’s departure – um!
Adding fuel to the fire was Chilean super agent Fernando Felicevich’s presence in London last week. Now, he could have simply been visiting Gooner Alexis Sanchez, one of his stable. But the media in Santiago are convinced. After the Copa America, Vidal will join good friend Alexis as an Arsenal player next season.
Then there is Martinez.
It broke last week that the Colombian had agreed personal terms with Arsenal. The source, Journal di Noticias, has been around for over 85 years. They’re not exactly known for wild speculation. Even Nuno Pinto da Costa, the Porto president, has been forced to come out and admit he’d be “powerless” to prevent Martinez from joining Arsenal if they meet the €35 million buyout clause in his contract.
In terms of transfers, Vidal and Martinez are as close to a sure thing as you’ll get. The pair of them basically go against everything Gooners have come to expect from Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy.
Martinez, who will turn 29 next season, has won the Primeira Liga Golden Boot three years running and the title with Porto at first attempt. Vidal, 28, has been a mainstay of Juve’s four-in-a-row Scudetti success and could lift the Champions League crown next week.
Vidal and Martinez are proper, ready-made footballers. They’re proven winners. Vidal will arrive as the best ball-winning midfielder Arsenal have seen since the days of Petit and Vieira. Martinez will work around Olivier Giroud to form a strike-paring as exciting as any in the country.
We know Wenger has been shopping for a Martinez-type for some time. After his swoop for Alexis, he didn’t shut the door on adding more attacking South Americans.
“I have said many times that Europe still produces many fantastic football players, but if you look well we do not produce strikers well. Very few, all of the big strikers come from South America.”
But is this really Wenger’s Arsenal we’re talking about? Why the sudden shift in transfer policy?
Perhaps the presence of Alexis has something to do with it. Frustrated with his limited role at Barcelona, the Chilean arrived last summer with something to prove. In his debut season in England, Alexis was at times sensational. A great addition not only for Arsenal, but to the Premier League.
His form was rewarded this week with the PFA’s Fans Player of the Year title. And after a year’s Premier League experience under his belt, he will only get better.
Which would become a dilemma for Wenger, leaving him with only two options: Either allow Alexis to outgrow his team and be sold – or match his ambition by putting better players around him.
The manager’s Copa America outburst this week could have been a big hint about what is around the corner for Arsenal fans. The blast over the tournament’s timing came out of the blue. Yes, it will affect Alexis and Arsenal’s Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina. But given the make-up of the present squad, it’s not a crisis.
However, add Vidal and Martinez to that mix and the level of Wenger’s frustration begins to make sense. Did he let the cat out of the bag this week?
Looks like he did, and at last – Gooners around the world could be having graphic expressions illustrating the “Special One’s” failures – well, like he did at Chelsea’s end of the season awards dinner.