Criticism has come thick and fast following Arsenal’s humiliating 5-1 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday. Among the criticisms aimed at Arsenal for the loss has been the club’s failure to strengthen their squad in the January transfer window. Having been unable to land a striker to cover for the injured Olivier Giroud, experienced midfielder Kim Kallstrom signed in a low-profile loan deal that attracted much scorn when it was revealed that he arrived with an injury that could rule him out for up to six weeks.
Arsenal are now being linked with a move to bring in another midfielder on the cheap in the summer. According to the Daily Express, Arsene Wenger is keen to sign Gareth Barry when his Manchester City contract expires at the end of the season. Barry, who has impressed on loan at Everton this season, was reportedly the target of a loan move by Arsenal last summer but City vetoed the deal due to their unwillingness to aid a title rival.
The 32-year-old is believed to have turned down a permanent move to Everton in January, instead wanting to keep his options open for when he’ll be a free agent. While Barry has certainly brought a calming presence to Everton’s midfield, it is difficult to see how he would expressly help Arsenal. In Mikel Arteta they already have a deep-lying midfielder with a steady passing ability. Although Barry may have more positional reliability, it is another player who can bring tenacity to the center of Arsenal’s team that is arguably needed far more.
Having failed to capture on last month, it is hard to imagine Arsenal not bringing in a striker in the close season. One of the many names linked with a move in January was Juventus’s Fabio Quagliarella and TalkSport has suggested that the Gunners could reignite their interest in the close season. Having been frozen out at Juventus, the 31-year-old could well depart at the end of the campaign, but it would be a big surprise were it to be to the Emirates Stadium.
Another position where Arsenal could do with strengthening is at center-back. Currently, Wenger has just three established options, while club captain Thomas Vermaelen may well be looking for an exit route in the summer if he cannot force his way back into the first team.
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According to the Daily Mirror, Arsenal could turn to Vermaelen’s former club to find his potential successor having been one of the Premier League big-hitters to send a scout to watch Ajax’s Joel Veltman in action against Groningen last week. Aged 22, Veltman has made the breakthrough to first-team regular at Ajax this season and has already been rewarded with a first appearance for the Netherlands. Unsurprisingly, Ajax technical director, and former Arsenal winger, Marc Overmars has insisted that he has no intention of relinquishing to the interest in Veltman.
“I will fight to keep Veltman,” he said. “We don’t want him to go. He is a massive talent and players have been leaving this club too early in their careers.
“Veltman is a sensation. We never expected him to make such an amazing breakthrough at top level. But that’s down to the work of [coach] Jaap Stam.
“I love doing deals and I love a good transfer. But they can’t have this boy Veltman. I will barricade the doors and I will go and stand behind the door myself to stop them from taking him. He means too much to us.”
Meanwhile, website Caught Offside has a claimed in an “Exclusive” that Wenger is in secret talks with the agent of Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala over a possible transfer this summer. Yet, given that Manchester City are believed to have balked at Porto’s asking price for the France international in January, it is difficult to believe that Arsenal will see off competition to meet the valuation set by the notoriously tough-negotiating Portuguese club.