Ex-Arsenal man on January struggles, with Winston Reid off the table

Ray Parlour on the difficulties Arsenal face in pursuing top targets during the January window, with Winston Reid among those they may have had to ignore.

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The January transfer market is notoriously difficult to navigate.

No manager wants to part with prized assists in the middle of any given season, and valuations soar as a result of the reluctance to enter into transfer negotiations.

Some bosses are even prepared to run the risk of blocking moves for those due to be out of a contract a few months down the line, with their continued involvement over the second-half of the season offering greater value to the collective cause than money in the bank.

That is a problem Arsenal appear to have faced in recent times, with Arsene Wenger’s track record suggesting that he is not a fan of winter windows.

He has been able to tie up deals for Krystian Bielik and Gabriel Paulista during the current scramble for fresh faces, with the Gunners aware of the need to bolster their holding midfield and centre-half ranks.

Wenger has refused to go with established stars – as has often been the case – but former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes he may have been left with little choice.

The Carlsberg Fan Squad has teamed up with talkSPORT to launch a competition to find the People's Pundit. Fans are being asked to showcase their punditry skills in a video entry by swapping the terraces, pub or sofa for the chance to win their big break on talkSPORT. At a promotional event, Parlour told HITC Sport on Wenger’s winter business: “It depends on who is available. At the moment, it is always going to be difficult to get top-quality players because they are involved in the Champions League and playing for titles themselves.

“You can sometimes only get players that are going to be out of contract and clubs have to make a decision on taking the money. Centre-halves, there was Winston Reid at West Ham and Ron Vlaar at Villa that will be out of contract, but it’s a lot easier to buy centre-halves in the summer transfer market than it is in January.

“Whether he will get another one in the summer is a question only he can answer. But I think going forward, he’s got Paulista, it looks like he will come into the team. He’s a good age, 24 years old, and (Per) Mertesacker is a bit older now. He’s gone and bought one, he has (Calum) Chambers as well, but I think the position he still needs to buy is holding midfield.

“(Francis) Coquelin has done great in recent weeks but going forward you will need two. I have always said (Morgan) Schneiderlin, but I’m sure there is a big queue for his signature. That’s the hardest thing for clubs sometimes, when you know there are big clubs and bigger wages to be had at other clubs.”

West Ham United defender Winston Reid is among those to have been heavily linked with the Gunners – by the Daily Mail, among others – but Parlour feels the Hammers are right to stick to their guns and block any attempt by Premier League rivals to land a player who is heading towards the free agent pool.

He added: “West Ham might say, ‘No, we’re not letting him go, we’re going for top four or top six’. Rather than sell him for four of five or six million, they can go for Europe, which some clubs don’t want to be in, but I’m sure West Ham do.

“It’s one of those situations where they need to keep their best players. They will look at it and think it’s more worthwhile keeping him and missing out on a transfer fee than it is to let him go for five or six million and have to go and find a replacement. It’s about whether he is available or not. I think Sam (Allardyce) can have a good second half to the season, they will be there or thereabouts and can have a good cup run as well.”

Arsenal, it would appear, find themselves in a situation where they are forced to think outside the box, with it not always possible to get what you want.

Supporters have called for certain areas to be addressed, and they have been. Whether those drafted in are of the standard they were expecting is open to debate, but it could be that they have to wait until the summer before more ‘high-profile’ additions are targeted.

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