Early Transfer Speculation: The Who’s Who

So, the Premier League season has wound to a close, and the Champions League crown has gone to a deserving (if a bit lucky) Barcelona. I haven’t the heart to do a season review of Arsenal in 2010-11, at least not right now; it’s a little too depressing, truthfully.

What I am interested in evaluating is how Arsenal treats this off-season. After the usual failings under a very upset looking Wenger on the touchline, it remains to be seen if the team finally “spends big”. But with the expectations of a new owner, vocally upset fans (“Spend some f*cking money” from the away support at Fulham) and the prospect of a tougher Man City, Sp*rs and Liverpool next year, Arsenal has a clear need to get their stuff together in a hurry.

A big part of that is transfers! So far, it seems that Arsenal are being linked with “bigger” (both physically and financially) transfers than we did last season. We now take a look at four such players who have been discussed in this early part of the great speculative mystery called the summer transfer window.

Eden Hazard

Age: 20
Height/Position: 5’7 AMF/Winger
Current club: Lille OSC
Caps: 19 (Belgium)
Notes:

A dynamic, speedy and versatile midfield player who has been linked with Arsenal before in the past. Having just won the 2010-11 Ligue 1, it is unlikely Lille will be eager to part with one of their top assets; especially considering he is the youngest ever player to get the Player of the Year award. Additionally, his signature is not likely to come cheap with reported interest from many top clubs and a personal recommendation from Zinedine Zidane. Is under contract until 2015.

Latest news: Quoted as saying “My dream is to play for a big club soon. But, football is like this. There has to be the right offer, but I am not thinking about this for now”. Some speculate he will stay another season due to his age, contract, and Lille’s coming Champions League appearance.

Chris Samba

Age: 27
Height/Position: 6’4 CB
Current club: Blackburn Rovers
Caps: 20 (Republic of Congo)
Notes:

Captain of Blackburn with over 100 appearances. Is said to have been close to a January move to Arsenal.

Latest news: Reports are saying Arsenal have tabled a bid in the region of 8m Pounds.

Karim Benzema

Age: Turning 24 this year.
Height/Position: 6’1 ST
Current club: Real Madrid
Caps: 35 (France)
Notes:

Bought for 35m Euros by Madrid following a 100+ appearances with Olympic Lyon.

Considered to be falling out of favor at Madrid, and is behind Gonzalo Higuain in the pecking order. The likelihood of Sergio Aguero’s arrival may make Benzema available at a slightly discounted rate ala Van der Vaart. Plays in the mould of a typical #9 centre forward.

Latest news: Wenger has praised the striker and ruled a move as “not impossible”, but Benzema has stated he feels happy at the club, does not believe he will be sold by Mourinho, and wants to improve his form as a Madrid player.

Stewart Downing

Age: Turning 27 this year
Height/Position: 5’11 LMF
Current club: Aston Villa
Caps: 25 (England)
Notes:

Has been at Aston Villa since Middlesboro’s relegation in the summer of 2009. Had a limited role on England’s 2006 World Cup team.

Latest news: Some Gooner “insiders” report that he is being seriously looked at.

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