Marouane Chamakh edges closer to summer transfer
Last season Marouane Chamakh was simply another name making up the endless list of players linked with transfers to Premier League sides.
The French-born Moroccan International was a virtual unknown on these shores that summer despite being fresh from forging himself a glowing reputation in France as Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux captured Ligue 1 in impressive style.
Arsenal were reportedly close to signing the forward as the summer transfer deadline loomed, but a late collapse in negotiations resulted in the deal falling through.
So the 26-year-old stayed on at Bordeaux for another campaign, and his side have built on last season’s heroics, again challenging for domestic honours; Bordeaux are currently level on points with Montpellier at the summit of Ligue 1 with two games in hand. A second major challenge for the domestic title and a Champions League quarter-final surely represents more notable progress at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
But why has Chamakh attracted so much interest?
Tony Cascarino, the former Republic of Ireland international, recently described the Moroccan as “a poor man’s Ronaldo” which at first resembles a far-fetched description in the most extreme. But with a little reasoning, one can understand how Cascarino identifies a resemblance between him and the former FIFA World Player of the Year.
Chamakh has been leading the line for Les Girondins this season, despite clearly not possessing the physique of a traditional out-and-out striker in the mould of a Rooney, Drogba or Toni.
He has, however, performed the duty quite effectively with a respectable goal record, with a fair share coming from use of the head as he exemplified with his goal in the first leg against Lyon. He also possesses a high level of technical ability, known to strike fear through charging runs at opposing defences.
Chamakh’s Bordeaux contract expires this summer effectively making him available for nothing, and he is widely expected to leave France for a major European side.
Previous interest from the Premier League was led by Arsenal but he has been linked with several clubs including Liverpool and West Ham.
And recent comments from the striker have hinted at a preference for the Emirates Stadium.
“Do I already have Arsenal on my mind? A little, but our end of the season is so important that I can’t plan for life after Bordeaux,” the striker told L’Equipe.
“I took a risk by not prolonging my contract because could get injured at any moment. It is the first time I will be a free agent,” he added.
Should a move to the Emirates materialise, he would provide a classy alternative to Nicklas Bendtner or an occasionally-fit Robin van Persie as the main striker, though he could equally pose opponents serious problems on the wing in the Gunners’ 4-3-3 system.
If he is as similar to Ronaldo as Cascarino suggested, he could be a big hit in north London so it is certainly worth Gunners fans keeping an eye on developments.