Keep the team together by buying Salmon Kalou?

I love that I write this blog first thing in the morning, because it’s mornings like this one, where I wake up and see headlines like Gunners closing in on Kalou capture and crack a huge smile. Actually, today, when I read that headline I almost spit my coffee out. After all, it’s a patently ridiculous story, right?

Here’s what we know as fact: First, Arsene Wenger made an inquiry about Salmon Kalou last year: Scolari mentioned it in his pre-match press conference and Wenger confirmed it in his. Second, Scolari said that during Wenger’s inquiry Arsene said he wanted to use Kalou as a Centre Forward. Third, this was at the time, remember, when Adebayor was doing the hokey-pokey with Arsenal. Fourth, the Chamakh deal is falling apart a bit and Wenger seems unlikely to increase his bid of £6m for Chamakh when the player would be available for FREE in 5 months. Fifth, Senderos has accepted Everton and Everton have confirmed that they are in talks with Arsenal over the sale of Senderos for a reported £2.5m – £6m (!) though they are quick to say he’s not intended as a replacement for Lescott. That last bit probably seems a bit like it doesn’t fit but wait a second and you’ll see the logic.

Where was I?

Sixth, Wenger has spoken ad nauseum about how “keeping this squad together” is his most important summer job. Seventh, Arsene convinced Toure to stay after he handed in a dramatic winter transfer request and then sold him in the summer. Eighth, Arsene Wenger purchased Thomas Vermaelen before all this other transfer stuff happened. And lastly, Vermaelen, Kalou, and Chamakh are all known for their aerial ability.

So, knowing all 9 of those things what can we say about this latest Kalou rumor, the latest news about Senderos, and the prospect of Wenger signing the defensive player (either mid or back) that 93% of Arsenal fans want?

I think the Kalou interest is partially real. Last year Wenger saw the 5’10” Kalou as a legit Centre Forward and direct replacement for Adebayor. He’s a good header of the ball, good with his feet, and has a lot of Premiership experience so he’s used to the knocks that guys like John Terry dole out. That said, Wenger probably wants Chamakh as his first choice and this latest story about Kalou, leaked to the Sun for good coverage, plus the story in L’Equipe where Wenger is quoted as saying that Arsenal will just wait Bordeaux out is simply Wenger playing hardball.

It’s nice to see, I guess. I just wish that Wenger would play hardball to get in some defensive cover!

And here’s the thing about that… Arsenal haven’t lost nor gained in that realm if you think about it. Wenger knew that Toure was leaving at the end of this season, heck I’d be willing to bet he asked Toure to stay just until this Summer, as a favor to the team, so that he could get a replacement. Thus, Vermaelen is Arsene’s replacement for Toure. As we all know, Wenger prefers center half’s with great recovery speed over height and muscle, it fits the high-line-ball-holdery system that Arsenal play. Moreover, Vermaelen is reportedly a great header of the ball. I’ve only seen pre-season matches and YouTube clips but so far he does look the best header on the team.

So, when Wenger said “keeping the team together” he meant “keeping the core players together, and keeping the team playing style together.” Therefore, Senderos doesn’t count. He didn’t figure last year after being shipped off to AC Milan and it was pretty clear in pre-season, with Senderos playing defensive mid, that he didn’t figure this year either. Senderos’ sale is a net gain, if you look at it that way.

I already know what just about every comment will be when I say this but I’m going to say it anyway because I think we need to look at things from a different perspective. Typing finger on standby…

From one perspective the squad is actually stronger this year than last.

Well, first, we have, as Thomas Rosicky points out, more attacking options. I am the first to take the piss out of Wenger for his “like a new signing” stuff, but honestly? Getting Rosicky and Eduardo in this team is actually like two new signings. We didn’t have either player last year, they are both undeniably quality players, and they are both already helping this team.  The only question mark is whether they can stay healthy, but on this Arsenal team that’s a question mark for every player. LITERALLY. Name me one player who hasn’t been haunted by the specter of injury every season for the last 4 years. The emergence of Jack Wilshere, while I think he will get limited time, also adds to Arsenal’s attacking prowess. So, from that perspective, Arsenal have gotten much stronger.

In the midfield too, Arsenal have added. Song and Denilson have both gotten an entire year’s worth of Premiership experience under their belts and I doubt anyone would say that Song hasn’t gotten better. Denilson had a great start to the season last year and then seemed to fade so he could be a question mark. But in a 4-3-3 Wenger has a lot of options in midfield. Nasri, Song, Diaby, Chesk, Denilson, Rosicky, and Wenger is talking up Aaron Ramsey.

I’m not trying to take the piss out of my readers, and I know that many of you feel like those options aren’t of the quality that we’d like at Arsenal. I feel the same way! Chesk Fabregas feels the same way! What I’m offering though, is a different perspective. If Wenger doesn’t buy a midfielder, and it’s looking increasingly like he isn’t going to, then Wenger DOES think that those guys are the right quality. We clearly have the money to buy someone. Hell, we could buy Daniele de Rossi if we wanted. And just as clearly, Arsene isn’t interested.

Wenger could still surprise a lot of us and sign someone like M. Diarra from Real Madrid, but I seriously doubt he will. It seems like, from Arsene’s perspective, Arsenal already have the quality in midfield and if anything we’ve gotten better all around; up front with Eduardo, Arshavin, and Wilshere, in the middle with Rosicky and Ramsey and the more experienced Song and Denilson (not to mention Nasri), and at the back with the subtraction of Toure and the addition of a guy who can head the ball and who has proven leadership qualities in Vermaelen.

So, Salmon Kalou in does make a sort of sense all the sudden doesn’t it? I mean if you think of him as a Centre Forward, which supposedly Arsene does, then he’s the logical replacement for Adebayor and Arsene’s just “keeping this team together.”



  1. Knowing that Chamakh will be out of contract in five months really reduces the bargaining power of Bordeaux. They may end up wishing they had taken the offer come January.

    Are we sure how the guy who said Chesk would say Chamakh?

    1. @Keith Barham, I’m pretty sure his contract runs until next summer, he’s just free to start talking to other clubs, about joining them when it runs out, in January (when his contract has six months left).

      But still, he’s leaving them with very few options other than cash in now. Which kind of bothers me and makes me wonder if i really want him at Arsenal.

  2. Well said. Although I still think we need defensive replacements. Players that wouldn’t object to being spot starters, Blaise Matuidi and Viera perhaps? Giving up big Phil leaves a gaping hole at the center back. We have Djourou, Gallas and Vermaelen, that’s it; because I’ve stopped counting Gerry.

  3. Spot on…..the squad is stronger. Rosicky and Eduardo really are like “new signings” (only this time Wenger!) considering they’ve been out for so long, and they are world class. Bringing in Kalou isn’t necessary, but he would slot in nicely on the right of our new attacking front 3, as he did in Mourinho’s formations, until young phenom Jack Wilshere is ready to start games! The midfield is stacked, yet having Viera back as an experienced option would benefit us. The defense is the only thing lacking. Gerry and Song playing together on Sunday was a horror story… if the Gers had brought their shooting boots, they could easily have notched 2 goals. Hopefully Vermaelen will be the vidic-type, no nonesense defender we need…. otherwise, another CB is definitely needed in light of Sendero’s pending departure.

  4. Watching Chamakh’s reaction (tantrum) the past few days, it leaves me thinking this guy is only looking for a better meal ticket, and Arsenal is only the 2nd breakfast.

    “Name me one player who hasn’t been haunted by the specter of injury every season for the last 4 years.” Over the past 2 seasons, Bendtner has shown to be resilient!

    When we play against strong clubs (ex ManU and Chelski), controlling midfield will be key for Arsenal. Even with playing regularly last season, Denilson never evolved into defender. Song played much fewer minutes but did evolve.

    Tim, who else (besides Song) is going to win 50/50 balls in midfield? If Song is injured OR off to the ANC, who is your choice for back up?

    For 60 matches, Vermaelen, Gallas, Djourou are not enough depth at center half. If we have to use Silvestre, the back line will be exploited and Wenger will be roasted by fans and media.

    1. @arsesession, Ok, here’s the thing, a lot of folks have an idea of how football should be played and in that idea, you need to have a strong midfielder who will win 50/50s and break up play.

      I’m starting to think that Arsene Wenger’s system doesn’t need that type of player.

      Now, I disagree with Arsene Wenger and if it was my team, I’d build it differently, but it’s not my team. It’s his team. If he likes Song in his system with Denilson as a backup and Diaby and Nasri as stop gaps, then really, I mean REALLY, who am I to question that?

      This is really difficult for me to do as well. Hell, I wanted Lorik Cana and last year Alonso! But this is Wenger’s team, and short of calling for his replacement, the best thing that we all as supporters can do is support him and his team.

      I don’t mean you can’t criticize and say that you’d do things differently. That’s what blogs are for! I’m just saying that we should give Wenger some credit and let him build this team in his own image. Great teams that are built (not bought) are always built this way, in the image of a great man.

      As for the back line, Wenger is going to use Song and Gerry. I’d buy more players if it was me, but it’s not me. And as for the roasting, I think we need to see what Wenger’s trying to do and not roast him ourselves, let the press roast him all they want, they’re just a bunch of wankers anyway.

      If Arsenal won the quad this year, the press would still find a way to piss on Arsenal. They hate Arsenal. In fact, I think most of England hates Arsenal.

      1. @Tim, So Tim, you wouldn’t take back Flamini? I would in a heartbeat. It’s funny if you ever watch the “Complete Footballer” vids from the official website how many players will choose Flamini as either the ‘heart’, ‘stamina’ or ‘tackling leg’ some choose two of the three.

      2. @Tim, Tim, I am going to totally disagree with you here and say that if anything, Wenger’s system creates the need for a ball winner/holding midfielder. Anytime you have full backs flying out in the wings, you need a guy in midfield holding things together and protecting the center backs. I love your optimism but the reality is we need a workhorse in the middle.

        1. @nycgunner, Well said NYC. Flamini was perfect for that role because he had such an incredible engine. He could easily have ran 8-10 miles a game for us (average is for a midfielder is 6). Who could fill this role? Diaby? No. Song? Maybe. Ramsey? Possible, but not for another year or two.

        2. @nycgunner, So, just to clarify, because I want to make sure I understand what you’re talking about.

          1. I’m just pointing out what I see that Wenger is and has been doing. This isn’t my system. My system would include a destroyer like Cana or Flamini, especially in a high-line-ball-holdery, passing = defense, system.

          2. My point, and for some reason this seems to elude everyone and people criticize ME as if I am Arsene Wenger, is that all evidence suggests that either A) Wenger does not agree with you (and me, Carib Kid, Cesc, WC, pretty much everyone I’ve every talked to pretty much ever) about the need for this type of player or B) he thinks that Song, Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey, and Nasri are that type of player.

          Don’t disagree with ME. Disagree with Wenger. I think if the last 4 years have proven anything it’s that Wenger doesn’t put as much weight in this position as everyone else does. He let Vieira, Gilberto, Flamini, and Diarra all go.

          Moreover, there have been literally dozens of this type of player linked to Arsenal and Arsenal have had the money to buy them. No year more that this year have we had the money to buy whoever we want. I’m serious when I say we could buy Alonso if Wenger wants.

          Wenger doesn’t want to. He doesn’t even want a cheaper version. He’s passed on pretty much every holding midfielder in the world! He always has an excuse — they’re over valued, the market is over-inflated, they wanted to leave, they are 30 years old, etc etc.

          In each case he’s rejected or passed over some of the world’s best talent at that position. What does that tell you? Does that tell you that me, Mr. 7amkickoff doesn’t think they would fit? Or does that tell you that Arsene Wenger thinks they wouldn’t fit.

          Arsene is an iconoclast and can be tough to suss out, but after 5 years of consistently under-valuing that position I’m pretty sure I have it sussed: Song, Denilson, and Diaby are good enough for him.

          I’m saying that you’re going to have to throw what you know about football away. After 5 years now, you have to see that Wenger is not doing this the way we would and that it has nothing to do with money, it’s Wengerball.

  5. Funniest story today? AC Milan to make a 30MM pound bid for Chesk. Ha.

    We’re stronger than last year by virtue of getting Vermaelen, by having a healthy Dudu and Tommy (for now), by not having Adebayor and the giant opportunity cost he represented, by having Jack Wilshire hopefully for more minutes this year, for having an improved Song and Ramsey, and for having Arshavin the full year.

    1. @ArseChicago, I hate fantasy football. the last thing I want to do is root for Rooney to score goals.

      I’m rooting for Rooney to get Type 7 diabetes and for him to have both legs amputated at the neck.

  6. I don’t think anyone will question that the squad is stronger but not deeper in the areas we hoped it would be. The Kalou story doesn’t shock me as much as it might others because we’re offering a measly 6M for a player who is 24, 3 years EPL experience and can play our style in the 4-3-3. It’s not exactly the area I’d look at first but at that price it’s pocket change. If Kalou can find his Feyenoord form, Wenger will look like a genius.

    We’re still thin on defensive muscle and talent and I sincerely hope Wenger uses the money to re-inforce the need for some clean sheets.

  7. @Tim, In a very twisted and convoluted way you manage to make a serious case for Kalou. However, Kalou offers nothing that we don’t already have in abundance when you factor in the swarm of forwards you and Travis cited above.

    The one problem that we have with our current forward situation is that we are limited in our attacking options due to the lack of a “true” central striker who can lead the line. Kalou does not supply that option and would only take away potential playing time for my ordained future superstar, Carlos “El Mosquito” Vela.

    Based on Arsene’s admission that we made an offer for Chamakh tells me 2 things:
    1) We are not pursuing KVH
    2) He is satisfied with his current striking options, because Chamakh would not be expected to contribute significantly if at all, this season.

    So, please Mr. Wenger, no Kalou.

    1. @CaribKid69, Well while I’ve also advocated for a true spearhead striker, if Wenger goes with the 4-3-3 he could theoretically get away with not having another Adebayor. The 4-3-3 relies on even more movement than we’re used to seeing, so lumping the ball up front is a rarity. However Kalou does have a decent air game, and better than most of our current striking crop so perhaps the few headers we’ll experience can be covered by a combination of Kalou, Nicky, RVP and Eddie. At the slash price we’re offering it’s no big dent in the kitty but as I said above, we need to build the back now that we’re overstocked up front.

      1. @WC, What happens when the inevitable injury occurs? At this point, with Nasri out with a leg (thanks Al Michaels), some combination of a Rosicky/Walcott injury (or God forbid I even mention it, Arshavin) and we are starting Fran Merida during Champions league games with some 15 year old on the bench to replace him. And while I think Merida will be a star in 2-3 years, he’s not there yet.

        1., OK for argument’s sake we can take out: Rosicky, Nasri and Walcott, I’ll even give you Arshavin. That leaves – RVP, Eddie, Nicky, Wilshere, Vela, Cesc, Ramsey and Traore can play anywhere on the left. That’s a hell of alot of other options in the hypothetical event that all 4 of the aforementioned players suffer injury at the exact same time and are out for the exact same period of time.

  8. Tim, your analisis is like CSI, Dr. House and X files all rolled into one.(that is intended as a compliment). I want my “likeanewsigning” t shirt now!
    On to serious things, I probably get trashed for this, but I have to say it. Gerry looked in far better shape on the Ems Cup than when he was just signed last season. Maybe he is a valuable replacement as CB, say, against lesser teams. Maybe the pre season camp after all works miracolously on players fitness.

    1. @Yan, OMG!!!!! WHAT A LOAD OF… anyways I know most of us have tried to bury this in the back of our minds, but there was a time when Gerry has MOM last season.

  9. Nice analysis.

    Arsenal held their ‘Parents/Teachers Day’ today and Merida and Szczesny were promoted to the 1st team.

    Kalou, interesting. No less prolific than Chamakh but 2 yrs younger and battle scarred in the EPL. We won’t take a big hit during the ANC w/ our “attacking options” (-Rosicky). Wenger was interested in Kalou last winter and now we know another name on our “list”. I would favor Kalou over Chamakh if the money’s right. For Wenger to see Kalou as a CF/target man is the reason why the man’s a genius because Kalou is always played on the wing at Chelsea. At best Kalou would be no worse than Bendtner. To his credit, Kalou tries to model his game on Henry’s 🙂

    Apparently Everton made a bid for Neven Subotic (we have not) and were turned down by Dortmund. Lescott must really be having ‘happy feet.

    There is a debate raging on a Man U blog site over the recent “poaching” of 16yo Paul Pogba from Le Harve. What is amusing is the blogger cites Arsenal’s young signings (Flamini and Fabregas) to justify that Man U are no less ‘immoral’ in bagging Pogba. Some commentators have properly slapped this blogger down over the lies (at our expense) he has made up to defend Man U. We got roped into this discussion because Le Harve’s president says we are much ‘nicer’ in our approach. Why shouldn’t we be, we are Arsenal and Man U are barbarians.

    1. On Kalou, why would Chelsea be interested in selling him, and for nothing basically? Drogba gets injured quite a bit, too, and I’m not sure about their depth up front.

      1. @ArseChicago, True there is no reason for Chelsea to sell (and I would not want him sold if I were a Chelsea supporter) but it never hurts to ask. They just got Zhirkov and may see Kalou as expendable.

        1. From my understanding, their Russkie, Zhirkov, is a winger. Chelsky still has Shevchenko, but I was under the impression he was to be shed as well. Given Joe Cole’s continued injured status, they really don’t have a lot of depth at forward, and lastly, considering how they’re a relatively older team, it really makes no sense at all for them to sell Kalou. Maybe it’s the African Cup? Maybe he’s got a year on his contract? Just seems strange. Then again, they sold us Diarra for nothing too.

        2. @ctpa, Well there’s tabloid fodder running around saying Chelsea are looking at Hulk from Porto and for some reason are still trying to chase Ribery, so Kalou would fall very far down the pecking order. It’s a stupid move on Chelsea’s part since they only have Drog and Anelka as strikers, but then again money makes clubs go cookoo for Cocoa Puffs. I think also Ancelotti might be looking at some obscure formation with their links to so many midfielders so perhaps there’s not alot of use for numerous strikers in whatever system Ancelotti wants to play.

        3. @ctpa, Ancelotti wants to use a 4-4-2 w/ a ‘diamond’ in the midfield. It’s hard to say where he sees or doesn’t see Kalou fitting in. At AC Milan he favored a ‘Christmas’tree in the MF but Lampard is not Kaka 😉

      1. @Travis The Septopus, Think about this for a moment: last year’s preseason, Ramsey, Wilshere and Merida were so-so either in their field play or physical strength displayed. This year, Wow what a difference. Ramsey admitted last season he really saw where he needed to elevate his game.

    1. @Yan, I assuming you’re referring to the interview where Whitaker thought we had ’12’ men on the pitch. One the great things about Arsenal is when we get a red card, the referee has only just reduced us to ’11’ men. Our attacking play does not drop off when we go down a man. That’s a tradition that goes back to the days when Vieira use to pick up red cards like they were gum drops.

  10. yes ArseChicago he has only one year left on his contract.. added that he might be unlikely to resign if Wenger came calling
    hence £6M

    1. @Gavin, This is the second time Wenger has been linked to Kalou and each time Kalou has reacted ‘favorably’. Kalou’s problem now is that 2/3 of his African homies have been sold (Adebayor, Toure and Eboue).

  11. I guess then my question is why would you think Wenger doesn’t feel like his system needs a ball winner in midfield? It’s not as if he has been completely ignoring that position. I am sure you remember that the reason Diaby was brought on initially was because of his similarity to Viera. Flamini didn’t have the physique but he certainly had the engine – as did Diarra. We know that we looked into players like Inler, Cana and Alonso – all deep lying MFs. So I dont think Wenger feels he doesn’t need a tough tackling midfielder. As is the case with him for the most part, it’s just a matter of value vs. cost

    1. @nycgunner, I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head – VALUE for Arsenal. Last few weeks trade amounts have been inflated AND the smart clubs are waiting for the calendar to creep closer to September 1st.

      Those clubs that are in financial straits – will lower their asking price. Those with the cash, can play one club against the other for similar position players and maximize the purchase.

    2. @nycgunner, I think that’s a reduction of Wenger’s own words and actions.

      Yes, he wants value. But he also values bringing players along far more than buying in. AND I think he doesn’t value the holding mid position.

      If I were an outsider looking in I might think it was a flaw in his management. As a supporter, I choose instead to say that he sees what he’s doing and thinks its AOK.

  12. Xabi off to Liverpool. I guess we’re not the only ones with money to burn anymore and a hole in our team to fill now. Maybe we’ll get less press time from those terrible journos who say we’ll end up 5th and maybe Liverpool will get some more schtick in the papers.

  13. Please no Kalou.. please!! Reminds me of the lemur from the movie “Madagascar”. Looks aside there are too many options in the attacking department for us to have to go in and get Kalou.

    As an aside, just finished reading “Arsene Wenger – The Authorised Biography” by Xavier Rivoire. Quite an insightful book into the Boss and the way he works. Makes you really appreciate the man that is Arsene!! I would highly recommend this book to everyone who loves Wenger. And also to those who think he’s losing the plot (You’ll see by the end of the book he’s anything but losing the plot!!).

  14. Pop quiz. What makes a team a selling club? One that sells players it no longer wants (Arsenal, Real Madrid, Man City) or teams that sells players they would like to keep but for various reason can’t (Man U, AC Milan, Liverpool, Portsmouth)?

    Van dar Sar out 8 (count’em) weeks after finger surgery.

  15. The Sun claims we got turn down in a 5.5m bid for Fazio (CB) of Sevilla. I remember us toasting him in our first CL game against them.

  16. “I’m starting to think that Arsene Wenger’s system doesn’t need that type of player.”

    Tim, what most of us have forgotten is that last season we scored the same # of goals as ManU, yet we finished 18 points behind in the league standings.

    This fact will not escape our manager and coaching staff as they prepare for ’09/’10.

    Arsene is intelligent, he will address our weaknesses in this transfer window.

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