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Will Arsenal sign anyone before Euro 2008 kicks off?

The clock is ticking on Arsene Wenger's self-imposed deadline to sign some new players for Arsenal Football Club.

Wenger wanted to have his transfer dealings completed before Euro 2008 begins, but with the first game due to kick off on Saturday, time is fast running out for Le Gaffer to stand by that timetable.

More worryingly, the signing of Samir Nisri, which seemed imminent two weeks ago, now seems to be on hold because of issues with the wages that are being offered by the Gunners. Wenger has tried to explain the problem by stating that the difference in salaries between England and France is not as wide as it used to be, but it still calls into question Arsenal's much talked about pay structure yet again.

The dilemma, of course, is that Nasri has a blinding Euro 2008 and is then poached by another European giant - or worse still, another Premier League club. But that's the risk that Arsenal will continue to face unless they can start to offer world class deals to their players.

Meanwhile, the Alexander Hleb saga rolls on with Barcelona still seen as favourites to sign the want-away midfielder. Perhaps if that deal can be completed this week we'll see Yaya Toure, or maybe even Samuel Eto'o, involved in a swap deal to come to north London. But somehow I doubt it.

But with Wenger's deadlines apparently meaning nothing these days (remember the moving deadline for Mathieu Flamini?!) the question I have for you lot is does it matter that we haven't signed any new talent as yet? Or do you think Arsene needs to get the chequebook out now so that he can plan properly for pre season training? Share your comments here.

Posted by Gordon Masson on June 3, 2008 10:33 AM in Debate of the Day| Transfers
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Will Sami Nasri's arrival coincide with Alexander Hleb's departure?

According to various newspaper reports this morning, Samir Nasri yesterday agreed a £12.5 million deal to take him from Olympique Marseilles to Arsenal, while at the same time Alexander Hleb began transfer discussions with Barcelona.

If Hleb is on his way out, then I have to admit I'll miss the Belarus skipper as I think he had a lot more to offer the Gunners. However, Nasri is a much more exciting prospect and aged just 20, he'll be a lot easier for Arsene Wenger to mould into the Arsenal Way and develop into a truly world class midfielder.

I'm hoping that we'll hear some official news from the Emirates Stadium today - and as soon as I do, I'll be sure to let you lot know - but as for Hleb, it'll probably be a few days, if not weeks, before anything concrete happens.

With Euro 2008 due to kick off next week, the biggest clubs in Europe will be dispatching their scouting staff to Austria and Switzerland in the hope of spotting an emerging star or someone who is hitting top form, so I wouldn't be too surprised if Hleb's move abroad isn't completed until after the tournament is over.

And it could be that Wenger himself will be looking for a suitable replacement for Hleb or Mathieu Flamini at Euro 2008, so if you have any pointers on whom Le Gaffer should be keeping an eye on, be sure to let him know here: it's the close season, so I've no doubt that Arsene is reading Arsenal Pies...

Posted by Gordon Masson on May 29, 2008 9:17 AM in Transfers
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Has Alexander Hleb played his last game for Arsenal?

If the rumours in the press are to be believed, Belarus international Alexander Hleb will be the third player to leave Arsenal during the summer, following Mathieu Flamini and Jens Lehmann out of the Emirates Stadium door.

Hleb's agent has been touting around his client for some time now and despite the 27-year-old claiming he is happy to remain a Gunner, it appears as if the lure of the almighty Euro is proving too tempting for Hleb and a transfer request has supposedly been handed to Arsene Wenger.

Now I'm a big fan of Hleb, but if he is truly unhappy with his deal at Arsenal, then I'm not going to cry too much is he is allowed to leave, especially if the speculation is true that the likes of Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid could be about to get into a bidding war for the talented midfielder.

With Inter already admitting their interest, Real boss Bernd Schuster has thrown his hat into the ring by saying, "Over the past two months we've made a plan and now we know what we want, but we've also added Hleb. We didn't originally know that he may leave Arsenal but now it seems that he will, and we were surprised by that."

With those European giants mooted to be pondering a £15 million offer for Hleb, the extra boost to Wenger's transfer budget would allow Le Gaffer to bring in someone the calibre of Hatim Ben Arfa or perhaps even Yaya Toure to bolster the Gunners' midfield options.

Do you think Hleb will leave north London? If so, who would you like to see brought in to strengthen the Arsenal squad? Share your thoughts here.

Posted by Gordon Masson on May 28, 2008 9:14 AM in News| Players| Transfers
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Carlos Vela resolves work permit problems to join Arsenal

Good news Gooners. The long running saga of trying to get Mexican wonderkid Carlos Vela permission to play in the Premier League is finally over and he will join his Arsenal team mates in July for pre-season training.

Vela has spent the first two years of his Arsenal career on loan in Spain, with Celta Vigo, Salamanca and Osasuna, because of the red tape involved in securing his work permit for the UK. But today his agent has revealed that the waiting is over and one of the most exciting prospects in world football is on his way to north London.

"In Spain a moment of his career gets closed, now he is waiting for his [Spanish] passport," said agent Eduardo Hernandez. "He has his work permission so Carlos will be joining Arsenal in July to begin pre-season work."

The Mexican forward was signed two and a half years ago by Arsene Wenger on a five-year deal, but it seems as if Le Gaffer is set to offer the talented 19-year-old a new contract when he arrives this summer.

During the past season, Vela has won rave reviews at Osasuna where he helped the club avoid relegation from the Spanish top flight. Surrounded by better players and under the tutelage of Le Boss and the Gunners' coaching staff, let's hope that Carlos will be helping his team at the other end of the table next season.

Posted by Gordon Masson on May 22, 2008 9:21 AM in Players| Transfers
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Is Samir Nasri set to become an Arsenal player today?

If the rumour mill is true, then Arsene Wenger could be set to announce Arsenal's first new signing of the summer as early as this afternoon, with the club set to splash out about £12 million on French midfield playmaker Samir Nasri.

The club, of course, is remaining tight lipped on its transfer manoeuvres, but reports from France, including from such respected sources as L'Equipe, suggest that Nasri is in London today for a medical after his current club Marseilles agreed a deal with Wenger.

According to those reports, Arsenal have negotiated a four-year deal with the talented 20-year-old, adding yet another French international to the Gunners' first team squad.

Nasri would provide midfield competition for Alexander Hleb, who is now being linked with a move to Real Madrid, as well as Inter Milan, AC Milan and Barcelona. If Hleb truly is unhappy at Arsenal then I could see Wenger granting a transfer request if he has signed Nasri, as Le Gaffer does not tolerate disruptive infulences in the dressing room.

Personally, I could see Wenger using Hleb as a bargaining chip for a player swap deal, but I still hope the Belarus captain remains at the Emirates Stadium next season.

I'll keep you posted on any Nasri confirmation as and when the club makes an announcement.

Posted by Gordon Masson on May 21, 2008 11:09 AM in Players| Transfers
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Is Mathieu Flamini already regretting leaving Arsenal?

Had it not been for his defection to Italy last week, I reckon Mathieu Flamini might have finished a tad higher in our Player of the Season poll and given the weekend results in Serie A, the Frenchman himself may now be wishing he had waited a few weeks before making a final decision on his career path.

Because if you haven't heard, the Flamster's new club, AC Milan, will not be playing Champions League football next season after they were pipped for fourth spot in the league by Fiorentina.

That means Milan will be playing UEFA Cup, rather than Champions League, football next season and that ignominy could prompt a number of transfer requests from Flamini's new colleagues.

Don't get me wrong, I wish Mathieu all the best for his future career - after all, we shouldn't complain when a player who cost us nothing, leaves for nothing. But when players say they want to stay at a club only to let money change their minds at the 11th hour, then my charitable demeanor evaporates when their luck turns a little bad.

Posted by Gordon Masson on May 20, 2008 9:12 AM in Champions League| Transfers
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Will Yaya Toure join big brother Kolo at Arsenal next season?

Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure has spoken of his desire to play club football alongside his older brother Kolo, fuelling speculation that the 25-year-old could be set to join Arsenal in the summer.

According to newspaper gossip, Arsene Wenger is set to table a £10 million bid to Barcelona for Yaya, amid rumours that new Barca coach Josep Guardiola is contemplating a summer clear out.

Toure only went to the Nou Camp last August, but given that the Catalan giants are his fifth club in as many years, it wouldn't be too surprising to see him move on. Since arriving in Europe in 2001, Yaya has had spells at the Gunners' Belgian feeder club Beveren, Ukrainian outfit Metalurh Donetsk, Greek side Olympiakos, French league team Monaco and now Barca.

And while a number of clubs are interested in securing the services of Yaya, it would appear that because of the family connection, Arsenal have the upper hand.

"I can't say anything yet - however it would be great to play in a big team with my brother, it would be fantastic but you never know," said Yaya in a clear "come and get me" hint to Wenger.

What do you reckon? Would you welcome Yaya as a Gunner? And could he be the man to fill the Mathieu Flamini role? Share your thoughts here.

Posted by Gordon Masson on May 14, 2008 10:47 AM in Players| Transfers
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