Benayoun farewell, players in/out as transfer window opening looms – AFC

When the 1st July arrives it will signal the cut off point where many a deal ends for footballers. 1st July is primarily set as an end point to contracts to coincide with the opening of the summer transfer window in England. Despite the high number of transfers announced by clubs since the season ended and in some cases towards the end of the season while it was still being contested; the deals do not officially kick in until 1st July.

Arsenal took the opportunity to re-confirm the professional players that will be released come this date and there have been no new additions to the names mentioned at the end of the season; Manual Almunia still being the most high profile name. A few second year scholars have also been released while a number have been offered professional contracts. Some names of the new professionals will be known to arsenal fans already, young players such as Hector Bellerin, Kris Olsson and keeper Reice Charles-Cooke.

Another set of players have 1st July as a significant date and that is the loanees who were on season long loans. In that category for Arsenal will be the loss of Yossi Benayoun. The Israeli became popular amongst Arsenal fans because of his contribution to Arsenal’s run of form in the second half of the season gone. He scored some important goals at times and proved to all he had the passion and ability to fit into the Arsenal team. Unfortunately it seems with no word of any negotiations between Arsenal and Chelsea that Yossi will return to his parent club.

Benayoun even took to twitter yesterday to give his thanks to the Arsenal players, staff and fans for his time spent over the past 11 months at the emirates.

He tweeted:

“My loan spell with arsenal will be officially over tomorrow… I want to say again a big thanks to the fans and the club for the opportunity and the great support and I wish this club all the very best!”

Very nice words from the midfielder towards the club and I’m sure all Arsenal fans will wish him the best in wherever his career path takes him (with the exception of games against us of course). It could be that with a new manager at Chelsea he could feature in Robert Di Matteo’s plans for next season or he is holding out for an offer of a more secure longer term contract; something Arsene doesn’t throw out freely to over 30’s very often. Whatever the reasons are behind the scenes Yossi will leave the club on good terms.

Whilst signaling the end of season long loanees to Arsenal in the opposite direction the doors will open once again to a number of players who spent the last season elsewhere. The likes of Bendtner, Denilson and Vela will all become property of Arsenal again. It will be fair to say that neither of these players will be returning with the intention of starting the new season playing at the Emirates. Each has been quite vocal in their insistence that they see no future at Arsenal; Bendtner has been putting himself in the shop window at Euro 2012 and his agent has been talking up his demand across Europe. Vela and Denilson have enjoyed productive loan spells at Sao Paulo and Real Sociedad respectively and look towards potentially making permanent moves to those clubs.

Only sticking point is with Denilson, the Brazilian club is pushing for an extension on his loan rather than a permanent deal. Not ideal for us and we really need to stick to our guns and push for a permanent deal at the right price for a player who doesn’t want to return to Arsenal.

Young players returning which are very much in Arsene’s plans for the future are Joel Campbell and Ryo Miyaichi; however their involvement next season depends heavily on work permits and whether Arsene feels their experiences gained has made them ready for the first team.

A player at crossroads will be Henri Lansbury, its unclear whether Arsene will finally give him a run in the team next season, he had a mixed season on loan at West Ham as he was hampered by injuries and struggled to get back into the first XI after a long spell out on the sidelines. Arsene has spoken highly of Henri in the past and he has been one of the standout players in the England u-21 set up. Time will tell how that pans out though it would be a shame for him to not get a fair crack of the whip. Oguzhan Ozyakup has gone after he confirmed via twitter last week will Henri follow him out the door?

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Good luck Podolski, Super Eagles await, Burton for reserves – AFC

The Euros are drawing to an end; one semi final is out the way with the Germans set to take on the Italians tonight for a spot in the final. I missed the game yesterday but was able to catch the penalty shoot out which was a blessing in disguise. No matter how entertaining a 0-0 draw can be, it’s still a 0-0. The shoot out itself was an event filled spectacle which included saves, misses, sublime chips and player mix ups. Cesc scored the deciding penalty though with him no longer playing for us I don’t share his joy. I don’t want our former skipper to fail I just don’t feel a connection with him now that he is not longer part of us.

Today’s game carries Arsenal interest in Lukasz Podolski and Per Mertesacker so they are the team I’m backing all the way. Mertesacker hasn’t played a part all tournament and probably won’t be involved unless there is an injury to the first choice pairing at the back for Germany.

I fully expect Podolski to play a part today, it was like he and his other two partners in crime Gomez and Mueller were rested against the Greeks however for the big game they will all be back.

Podolski is a man for the big stage and he will show us what he is all about in a high pressure game.

I’m getting pretty excited about our forward line for next season, no offence to these guys but Chamakh and Park as our options up front was a bit of a joke. How we managed to finish last season 3rd with them as our cover laid testament to the important contribution from our skipper Robin Van Persie. Whatever his secret to fitness was last season, whether he stays or goes I hope he passes on those secrets to our new forwards and maybe to Diaby, Rosicky and Jack.

In other news it was announced that our game being played in Nigeria will be against the Nigerian national team. I’m quite pleased about that, the game will be more high profile against the super eagles and more of a stern test in our pre season preparations. Interest in this game will be high and it’s about time Arsenal recognised the massive fan base in Africa and Nigeria particular. Win win situation for both really and if the game is a success we could expect this to be a regular feature for pre season plans.

It has been mooted that Terry Burton is in line to take up the vacant reserve manager position at Arsenal. A nice appointment if it comes to fruition.Burton has deep Arsenal links and would be a popular choice. Neil Banfield did a good job for the reserves if you measure it by the successful transition of young players integrating into the first team squad over the years. Reserve titles may be nice on your CV but one of the main purposes of the reserves is bridging that gap between youth and first team. Development is more important and I feel we do that well here, Arsene Wenger does take interest in the young players and his relationship with Banfield was invaluable in terms of identifying those players that had the potential to make it at Arsenal.Burton will be privileged to join and be part of the organisation.

Other titbits you may already know Olivier Giroud revealed he chose Arsenal ahead of Chelsea. Jack Wilshere is on course to be fit and ready for Arsenal pre season and youth player Alban Bunjaku has joined Sevilla.

That’s it from me, let’s get behind Podolski tonight.

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Giroud is here, RVP not, Nasri to get what he deserves – AFC

We did it; we’ve completed our second signing of the close season with the acquisition of Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman, fresh from France’s elimination from Euro 2012 jetted into London Colney to complete his medical and final formalities of his transfer from Montpellier to the gunners. As is the Arsenal way the opportunity was taken for Olivier to complete a photo shoot, don the Arsenal red and white and give an exclusive interview discussing his transfer.

The transfer was no surprise to Arsenal fans after the deal was confirmed by the officials at Montpellier however there is no better confirmation than seeing the new man plastered across the official Arsenal website. He has definitely raised excitement amongst arsenal fans as we can’t wait to see what the new striker will be bringing to the Arsenal team.

YouTube must have been awash with searches for Olivier Giroud goal montages yesterday as interest in the new guy intensified. I for one had a look at the kind of goals he has scored for his previous club and what I witnessed was a variety of finishes. From deft touches over the keeper to rockets from the edge of the box, there was even an exquisite chip over the keeper with his right foot though that one may have been a bit of a fluke.

With all that aside Giroud gave his interviews, he doesn’t speak full English yet as everything was spoken in French and translated. He managed to say all the things we wanted to hear. It was interesting to hear him say that he has always dreamed since a kid to play in the premier league, I almost thought he was going to say Arsenal but he didn’t and I respect him for being honest rather than telling any fibs.

The French connection played a big part in the signing of Giroud as he admitted his admiration for Arsene Wenger and his legacy at the club. The striker told Arsenal.com:

 “I was attracted by the philosophy of football and Arsene Wenger’s ‘touch’ at this club”

he followed that up with:

“I have always admired Arsenal with its great history and reputation, and I now hope to achieve great things here”.

His admiration for Arsenal was certainly helped by the glowing reference received from former teammate Laurent Koscielny. The two players appeared close during their time together at Euro 2012 and the transfer can definitely be attributed to Koscielny’s work behind the scenes.

Wenger was complimentary talking of the striker:

“We are excited about Olivier joining us and he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season”

“Olivier has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic”

All positives from our manager as he clearly believes in his £12m signing. The only question we have raised from the signing is whether Giroud would be a signing to compliment the talents of Robin Van Persie or to fill the void created by his departure.

It has gone all quiet on the news of our captain’s future, Netherlands were eliminated early and it was hoped this would lead to his negotiations being concluded sooner rather than later. Before the Euros he stated that he will not talk about his future until after the tournament, there has been nothing heard from the Dutchman since.

Understandably he has completed a long season and is entitled to have a holiday and his space. The silence though only succeeds in stirring up the paranoia amongst Arsenal fans as we crave word of whether he is staying or going. I really hope he is staying and the signings of Podolski and now Giroud exhibits the ambition for next season. M’Villa is still a possibility and I’m sure there is still an unknown gem on Arsene’s radar that none of us are aware of, time will tell on that front.

Good news on the Samir Nasri front. It seems the number one former player to really antagonize the arsenal fans since the disappearance of David Bentley is in hot water with the French Football Federation after his foul-mouthed tirade against a reporter in the aftermath of Frances exit from the Euros and his general disruptive behaviour throughout the tournament; the French men in power are not letting it slide.

The in fighting that disrupted the French morale after the defeat to Sweden which in effect conceded top spot of their qualifying group refused to die down and rumours surfaced that Nasri was the man instigator. This culminated in him being dropped from the line up against Spain and it was apparent to all watching the game that the French team did not look in harmony.

Because of this embarrassing exhibition the F.F.F has condemned his actions as intolerable and there is a threat he could be banned from international duty for 2 years.France has worked so hard over the past 2 years to wipe away the memories of the 2010 world cup and rebuild a united squad. Arsenal fans were so happy after that world cup that Nasri was cut from the final squad for the world cup because it meant he was not part of all the negativity and would start the season fresh for us. He did go on to have his best season for us the following season however I wouldn’t be surprised if he still happened to instigate the problems in South Africa from afar. That good season at arsenal only culminated in his ego expanding even further and that cantankerous move to Manchester city

He has always had a reputation for being a trouble maker and was reported to have an issue with Thierry Henry and William Gallas from even earlier in his France international career by disrespecting them over a seat in a coach.

I really hope the F.F.F really throw the book at him with the full 2 year ban, his disruptive behaviour destroyed France’s chances in Euro 2012 after looking so impressive in the opening 2 games. He showed his true colours to all and he deserves to be exposed for what he is.

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Ramsey wanted by Fulham, Giroud deal agreed – AFC

News started circulating yesterday that Aaron Ramsey is on the radar of Fulham. It has been suggested that the west London club are preparing a bid for the Welsh captain as they look to find a replacement for Danny Murphy who yesterday signed for Blackburn rovers on a free. Murphy has been a big player for Fulham over the years and it would be no surprise that Fulham would look to a big player to fill his boots. Ramsey hasn’t had the best of times in the season gone; Arsenal fans were divided in support for the Welshman as his form fluctuated throughout the season.

In Ramsey’s defence it was his first full season at Arsenal after his horrific leg break, he was not rushed back into the side as Arsene Wenger took on the cautious approach to his rehabilitation. A couple of loan moves in the 2010-11 season helped him along the way and with a full pre-season behind him he seemed ready to work his way back to the level he reached before the long term injury.

One thing that wasn’t in the plan was the long term injury to jack Wilshere which disrupted Arsenal’s midfield options through the season. This in turn led to Ramsey playing a lot more games than planned. In a season where he should have been eased back into the team he was thrust straight into the heat of the action and probably didn’t get the chance have the break he clearly needed. He clearly has the talent to feature as an important cog in the arsenal midfield for years to come and taking into account his young age he is still learning his craft. He was such an exceptional talent at a young age that many forget that he is far from the finished article at the age of 21 especially with the last 2 years disrupted so badly.

The question is what will Arsene have planned for the midfielder? I certainly don’t think Wenger would be mad enough to sell Ramsey to anybody however a loan move would not be out of the question. If Ramsey could get the opportunity of a loan playing at premiership level it could help him sharpen up his game again. The duration of that loan? I’m not too sure if a season long loan would benefit Arsenal, maybe a 3 month loan would be more realistic. He just needs a change of scenery for a short while then a return back into the arsenal team.

Whether Fulham are prepared to accept a loan we will have to see but the figures of £5.5m rising to £9m based on appearances etc are laughable.

To be honest more evidence is required for this transfer rumour to gain credibility, Fulham have indeed been previously in for the player trying to take him on a season loan at the start of last season but Ramsey’s name could just be a knee-jerk reaction to the loss of Murphy.

Olivier Giroud’s transfer to arsenal has moved even closer as the Frenchman was snapped in the UK apparently on his way to complete a medical. Very good news indeed though announcement of the official transfer will probably be held off until the full photo shoot and interviews are conducted with the striker.

His club Montpellier in the meantime have confirmed the transfer after the club president told French radio station RMC:

“The negotiations have gone very well” “we’ve agreed within the last few days”

You can’t get more conclusive than that.Montpellier do not have reason to keep the deal quiet if they have agreed everything

No point in wondering if the transfer will happen but more a case of when will the deal be announced.

With the Giroud transfer wrapped up now all we need is Yann M’Villa to get a move on. Once we wrap up the signing of our targets and Robin signing a contract extension then we can focus on offloading those who are surplus to requirements.

Update: He has officially signed for the gunners. Good times

New number 9

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England bow out on penalties, Chamakh doesn’t want to bow out – AFC

How many of you did not predict penalties in this tie? That was one outcome that everybody knew would happen. With no goals through 90 minutes and extra time England had finally succumb to the dreaded penalty shootout. It was definitely not a good night if your name was Ashley; both Young and Cole did not score their penalties which condemned England to taking the next flight home.

The game itself was not a classic by any means, especially if you were supporting England. After a bright start from both teams where it seemed they were prepared to throw two fingers up at all those who predicted a defensive stalemate from the two countries. That lasted all of five minutes then the real picture loomed.

As the game wore on Italy became stronger and stronger and missed quite a few chances you would expect them to gobble up. I believe the English post was struck twice over the course of the game and Balotelli had a game he would rather forget in terms of the chances he missed. England rode their luck a few times in the game as they became more and more tentative in their play. They dropped deep, kept their shape but at the times the broke on the counter they couldn’t string a number of passes together. The ball would break down and they would scurry back into position win the ball back and do the same over again.

As I had stated yesterday a game featuring these two countries needed the addition of someone special to produce that one piece of magic. I wanted that someone to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, England was calling out for his appearance. Rooney offered absolutely nothing on the night, nothing he tried came off and a lot of the promising attacks fell apart at his feet. Despite Jordan Henderson being trusted ahead on him last night young Alex will return to Arsenal with a lot of experience gained from his involvement in the tournament overall.

Theo Walcott did come on in the second half replacing James Milner who again was in the team on merit for his defensive qualities yet offered nothing going forward. Theo did in fact have the Italians on the back foot when in possession however that wasn’t in possession often enough as the England team seemed to force all their play on the left hand side. I have no idea why this was the case as Ashley Young gave the ball away far too much on the left flank and should really have been subbed at some point. I suppose in the end England believed their best hope to be penalties and played for them. Roy didn’t take that gamble the England team needed, the nation knew not to expect much when Henderson was brought on for Scott Parker and the only gamble Roy was prepared to take with the penalty shoot-out didn’t pay off. Not much else to say on the matter, the journey for the England team has ended at the quarter final stage. We didn’t expect much going into the tournament but gained belief as England progressed; we had some positives from Theo and Alex’s participation and will benefit next season from their experience gained.

In other Arsenal news the Bordeaux president has ruled out the prospect of Marouane Chamakh returning to the club this summer. It was though that after showing interest in the January transfer window for the striker they would renew that interest as it’s looking more and more likely he will become surplus to requirements next season. This has now been confirmed that Bordeaux will not be a likely destination. President Jean Louis Triaud said:

“It is not worth making things up. I tried to contact him six months ago when the transfer window was open”

he added:

 “Since I crossed paths with him at the Parc des Princes, he was able to tell me he was very happy in London, loved Arsenal and was fine where he was. We’re talking about things which do not exist.”

Don’t know what to make of those quotes, can Chamakh really be happy with the way his career has been going at Arsenal or is he happy with the bumper wages he is on? I stand by the latter, we must not forget he signed on a free and his agent would have made the most of that situation with wage negotiations. These same wages Chamakh is on would price him out of any move back to his old club. France isn’t known for its high wages apart from the money currently being thrown about at PSG.

I still believe Chamakh will move on if and when we complete the signing of Giroud from Montpellier but for now he is taking a seat next to Denilson, Arshavin and Bendtner in that waiting room of uncertainty.

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