The Gunners are linked with a number of high profile centre-forwards as we head into the New Year, as their reliance on the sustained fitness and form of Olivier Giroud is at present a worry. Meanwhile, Dimitar Berbatov is said to be unhappy at Fulham.
I know Arsenal have Nicklas Bendtner, but…
Despite the 25-year-old Dane’s goal in midweek there are still more than a few reservations about his attitude, his behavior off the pitch and his desire to leave the club if at all possible Even with Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott fully fit, the North Londoners are short a centre-forward. The problem with moving Bendtner on has been his wage demands, which are out of reach for most clubs who would take him.
Fulham, however, may be a rare exception to that rule. Dimitar Berbatov is a versatile type of striker and he is the kind of guy who can come on and completely change a game. He can take free-kicks and penalties as well as influence build-up play with his immense creativity and his finishing remains world class in my estimation.
I know he used to play for Spurs, but…
Berbatov played for Tottenham for just two full seasons – he arrived in 2006 for £10.9 million and there’s a good reason they paid that kind of money for him – whatever your allegiances, you cannot deny he is a top top finisher. His intelligence and elegance makes him a very difficult man to play against.
And, anyway he left Spurs for a reason – they sold him on for £30.75 million in 2008 after he’d scored 46 goals in 102 appearances. That’s pretty good going and, of course, if he signed for Arsenal there would be the added bonus that it would wind Spurs fans up. Who could argue with that?
I know he used to play for United, but…
Berbatov, of course, signed for Manchester United – and, in fairness, for the majority of his four seasons with them he was unstoppable to the point of annoyance. He scored 56 goals in 149 appearances, he got Champions League experience and Premier League experience in abundance meaning he wouldn’t require time to adapt to the intensity in England and he could hit the ground running in January.
I know he plays for Fulham now but…
His agent has publicly stated the player is ‘unhappy’ and Fulham.
"I don't usually speculate as nobody knows what will happen in January but what I can tell you is he (Berbatov) is not happy at Fulham," Emil Dantchev told Press Association.
It doesn’t really get any clearer than that – he is unhappy (with good reason given the Cottagers’ position and their over-reliance on him since he arrived.
He wants to stay in London, according to his agent. He’s already settled in the area. It would make sense for everyone involved if he signed for Arsenal.
Plus, with his experience and quality as a striker the younger players like Sanogo, Ryo, Gnabry, Zelalem, Wilshere, Ramsey, and even Giroud could learn from watching him and training with him every day. Fulham are going to be more than a little reluctant to lose him but if he’s going to go, surely they’d rather a swap deal for another striker who happens to be in the same value range as their man (£4.5M).
I know he’s 32 now, but…
Overall, it wouldn’t be a risky signing whatsoever – in fact I’d argue it would be a sensible, conservative and safe signing because of his track record and his likely availability, his desire to leave Fulham but remain in London. They could probably get him for less than £5M and when you consider what United and Spurs have paid in the past that’s a pretty good deal.
He’s not so old he’s not going to be able to cope (he’s the same age as Rosicky) and his style isn’t based around pace but intelligence, movement and positioning. He’s a Wenger-style player if ever I saw one and I reckon he’s exactly the kind of unexpected signing Wenger would make in January to good effect.
He would offer a different option to Giroud and Podolski and he’s better than Bendtner. Wenger might be able to do a swap deal given the fact that, however reluctant Fulham are to selling him, his contract is up in the summer and a swap deal or a part-exchange plus cash deal might suit them better than letting him leave on a free transfer in June.
I know Arsenal fans are hopeful of Karim Benzema or Alvaro Morata or Javier Hernandez but Dimitar Berbatov is the kind of signing Wenger is more likely to make. I don’t see him splashing another £20 million on a striker when he has good options and everyone knows Berbatov is quality personified.
image: © nasmac