Three players Arsenal could sign on deadline day
Ned Bristow suggests Arsenal could target Lars Bender, Edinson Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain on deadline day
1) Lars Bender
While Arsene Wenger is blessed with a wealth of attacking midfield options, the slow defensive midfield slots that are so important in modern football and in any title charge are somewhat neglected. With Francis Coquelin putting in a brilliant shift during the second half of last season, Wenger has turned his attention away from the under populated position to more desperate areas. But as the season progresses, failing to get anyone in could lead to a dangerous situation in front of the back four; an injury to one of Wenger’s key holding midfielders could see others slotting in – as they did last season – and not realising their full potential in natural positions. Lars Bender would offer peace of mind both in terms of increased personnel and a rare balance of experience and youth. At 26, the midfielder has already made over 300 competitive first team appearances and has displayed the defensive discipline Arsenal so badly need since his debut in 2006. Furthermore, Bender – twin brother of Borussia Dortmund’s Sven – is also a 19-time German international but was sadly ruled out of the national squad for last year’s World Cup triumph through injury. Since graduating into the Bayer Leverkusen first team in 2009, the dependable Bender has featured heavily in each campaign and has become a key cog in breaking down and recycling attacks into forward moves. This consistency is exactly what is needed both to give Wenger’s attacking players license to take risks in attack and also to compose the sometimes over-burdened defence behind him. With no disrespect to Coquelin, being sandwiched between Bender and Petr Cech would give the defence a renewed sense of composure and confidence.
2) Edinson Cavani
When your record goal-scorer and four-time Premier League Golden Boot winner urges you to sign a striker, it’s time to go out and get one. This is the situation Arsene Wenger now finds himself in after Thierry Henry spoke out against current options Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott. The pair have scored just one goal between them so far this season, and Arsenal have brought no more firepower in despite being linked with almost every striker under the sun over the course of the last three months. The key name on the ever-growing list – with just one day remaining until the window slams shut – is PSG striker Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan front man has 210 goals in 381 club appearances since making his professional debut ten years ago, and shows no signs of stopping. Along with his goalscoring prowess, the 28-year-old has a tireless work rate and combines the intelligence of a playmaker with the ruthlessness of a poacher to bring others into play around him. This unique ability makes him the complete forward, bridging the gap between Giroud’s inconsistent finishing and Walcott’s lack of natural ability to make an impact as a lone striker. Even with the return of Danny Welbeck imminent, Wenger’s outlay on as natural and troubling a striker as Cavani could be a shrewd piece of business despite representing a policy shift from the French boss. Cavani’s eye for goal has the potential to change Arsenal from Champions League chasers into title contenders.
3) Gonzalo Higuain
Still in search of a game-changing striker to match the talents that lie in the supporting midfield line, Wenger has reportedly reignited his interest in Napoli forward Higuain. The Italian side failed to qualify for Champions League football this season, which could see Arsenal land their man for less than the mooted £69m release clause. Despite Giroud’s relative consistency at reaching double figures in his league tally, he does not appear to be a title-winning striker who can put top teams to the sword. With Walcott also struggling in the striking role, it has been left to the Gunners’ midfield to provide the goals. And a Spanish journalist has tipped Higuain as the man to fill the void, with the 27-year-old apparently back on Wenger’s radar. Though a somewhat unlikely addition, Wenger has often spoken at his desire to bring in top talent and, should a chance present itself for the arrival of Higuain in a cut-price deal, he could be swayed to make a late move should moves for any other striking targets fall through.