Almunia a hornet, Chamakh in Besiktas link, Arshavin talks with Wenger – AFC

Former goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has found a new club in Watford FC. Our former number one has made the short move across London to sign a one year deal with the hornets. Manuel was one of the high profile free departures from the gunners at the end of last season and most gunners will join me in wishing the Spaniard well at his new club.

At least Almunia’s departure was a smooth one and hopefully he won’t have any bad words for the gunners once he has his interviews and settled in at vicarage road. A number of players at the club have been dragging their feet upon leaving the club despite declaring their intentions to leave the club a while back now. Players that fall into that bracket are Denilson and Niklas Bendtner, although Denilson managed to engineer another season loan at Sao Paulo a clean break from the club would have been a more feasible arrangement for all. The manager’s door was hardly being knocked on repeatedly  full of prospective offers and Arsenal in the end were forced to succumb to Sao Paulo’s terms.

Bendtner another player on his way out is hardly trying his best to attract the masses, the big Dane was fined by the courts after a non-appearance to answer charges of driving without a valid driving license. He apparently chose to go on a shopping spree rather than turn up at court yesterday. Its such petulant behaviour that tarnishes the strikers reputation, he is starting to be known for a number of pointless misdemeanours and needs to get his head together and make his football be the only thing people talk about, well… the good points of his football be talked about. At the moment the news of an imminent move has not exactly been filtering through. Though he will eventually move on it seems quite clear the big clubs around Europe he believed would be his destination are yet to be convinced of his star quality.

Maroune Chamakh has been linked to Besiktas in Turkey, their manager Samet Aybaba has gone on record to say that he has targeted the Moroccan and Tucay Sanli as the players he would like to lead their attack in the coming season. No comment has so far been released by Chamakh himself so it is not known if the admiration for the striker is mutual. He has previously gone on record to express his happiness at arsenal and his determination to succeed at the emirates this season. I don’t think many gooners would be too distraught if the striker made the move. He will find it hard to win back the belief from the arsenal fans who have noticed his progress move in a backwards direction ever since he lost the snood. With new signings Giroud and Podolski in the mix opportunities will be limited for the striker, Van Persie will be gone so there’s no need mentioning him in the equation.

According to the Daily Mail Arsene Wenger has refused to rule out the possibility of Andrei Arshavin staying with the gunners next season. he admitted he could have talks with the Russian this week about his future. Arshavin staying would be no bad thing for the Arsenal, on his day he can be unplayable and his performances at the recent Euro 2012 tournament showed how effective he can be when played the right way. Its down to the player himself I guess; if he wants to try to make it work this year. Bridges appear to have been burnt with Zenit St Petersburg after his comments received negative press in Russia after a defeat in the Euros. I’d be happy for him to stay as our squad still requires strengthening and as the season draws closer no signings look a possibility apart from potentially Santi Cazorla.

Enjoy your day people

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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?

Enjoy your day people

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Almunia, Hoyte out, Wilshere back before next season? AFC

So Arsenal have started their summer clear out. It was announced on the official website yesterday evening that seven players were to be released. Of those seven the most high-profile names released were that of Manuel Almunia and Gavin Hoyte. The other players not offered new contracts were Rhys Murphy, Sean McDermott, George Brislen-Hall, James Campbell and Jeffrey Monankana.

Almunia despite his critics has been at the club for the best part of 8 years, Making over 170 appearances for the club. Biding his time as an understudy to Jens Lehman it is fair to say when his chance came to stake a claim for the no.1 jersey he never quite fulfilled the role to the expectations of the Arsenal faithful.

Not an awful keeper by any means Manuel fell victim to not being the great keeper that was required by a club of Arsenal’s standing at that time. Many pundits and fans alike make the claim that the basis of a great team starts with having a great keeper. A keeper valuable enough to win games for you by presence, organisation, agility and 100% concentration.  Almunia never quite ticked all those boxes convincingly and therefore struggled to win over the fans and pundits.

Jens Lehman’s boots proved quite big ones to fill, mistakes did start to creep into his game towards the tail end of his Arsenal career and it was at this point where Arsene Wenger decided to promote within rather than sign a high-profile replacement.

It’s a shame Almunia never took his chance as first choice and despite putting in 8 years on the books his Arsenal career fizzled out to what seems like a swift exit out of the back door. A keeper that will always be remembered for not doing enough to save THAT shot in the champions league final there is no doubt he will look back himself with regret at what could have been.

Gavin Hoyte the other (sort of) high-profile player released by Arsenal seemed to have been around for an eternity. News of Gavin’s release is less of a surprise since last week he already said his goodbyes to Arsenal via Twitter.  His profile was probably raised more by the fact his brother played for the Arsenal. It was claimed at one point he was a better prospect than his brother when coming through the youth set up so a big career was probably foreseen. I believe at one point he was even made captain of the reserve team however throughout his young career injuries have gotten the better of him. When given the chance to shine out on loan he hadn’t really grasped the opportunities with both hands. Still only 21 he still has plenty chance to carve out a decent career for himself though it may seem more likely in the lower leagues.

Rhys Murphy career definitely has been defined by all his injuries, I believe if it wasn’t for that he may have been given more opportunities in carling cup squads and such like. The injuries however restricted his chances and development. He made a couple of loan moves to Brentford and Preston North End and at one point seemed close to signing for Glasgow Rangers. Nothing concrete materialized but again Rhys is another player that if he can overcome the injuries could carve out a decent career and fulfil the early promise he showed when part of our FA youth cup winning team from 2009.

Best wishes go to Almunia, Hoyte, Murphy and the other players released in their future choices.

We were also hit with the news about Jack Wilshere’s knee. Although the knee surgery received in the Swedish clinic was a success it is rumoured recovery will be 2-3 months. Strictly a rumour as word on the official site is Jack will be on course for a summer return. I suppose we will have to wait and see as Arsenal has a history of getting return dates slightly wrong. We really need Jack back next season and I have my fingers crossed this will be the last of the injuries that require an extended period of time out.

Now that the futures of the end of contract personnel has been decided next on the agenda will be which players that are still under contract will be moving on. How much money was freed up from the release of these players yesterday? Not a great deal I presume. Almunia would have been on a decent wage whilst the other players being on the fringes of the first team squad would never really warrant bumper contracts at that stage of their careers.

Every penny counts with Arsenal and I’m sure they have already planned where the money saved on the release of these players will go. Let’s hope it goes more towards players that will be part of the team next season rather than a bargain purchase that doesn’t quite work out like Park.

Enjoy your day people.