The Jagielka Bid (and What We’ve Learned From It)

Add another defender to Arsenal’s transfer candidates.

The failed bid of 10m (GBP) now puts Phil Jagielka’s name on the list of possible signings that also includes Christopher Samba and Gary Cahill. All three represent significantly experienced players; not only in that they’ve played at a top level, but specifically that they’ve played in the Barclays Premiership. These three players know what it’s like to battle on muddy, rain-soaked pitches on cold December days, and what it’s like to go against some of the world’s best strikers including physical beasts like Drogba and technical wizards like Tevez.

Thankfully, these three inquiries – which I will assume these undervalued bids are – show that Arsene is looking for a defender who has played the English game and is confident enough to add some leadership and resolve to the defensive back-four. Having let Clichy go without too much fuss, one has to wonder if Wenger is determined to add some steel to what has been a significantly weak part of the pitch for the Arsenal team. As usual, if that is merely wishful only thinking time will tell.

The other aspect of the failed bid is the stark reminder that Arsenal FC, and Arsene himself, keep their cards close to the heart. Few, if any, saw an official bid for Jagielka coming, and it’s only been the Everton camp who have made mention of it happening. Wenger is very “old school” in his transfer dealings. Professional, quiet, subtle, rarely telling the media (or us fans) anything until a player is signed and the negotiations are finalized in dry ink. Personally I believe AW is much busier than the media makes him out to be, though the final pen-to-paper step has admittedly been wanting over the last few years.

It may make Arsenal fans frustrated to hear little on the transfer front, but the Jagielka bid must remind us that just because it isn’t reported, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or isn’t happening. Let us hope there are other experienced names on that somewhat secretive short-list that could help us out next season – we definitely need an experienced left-back and hopefully a defensive midfielder, though I really doubt we’ll get that proper stopper anytime soon. Some have suggested Gibbs and Song are fine starting in those positions; however, I see Gibbs as too injury prone and I see Song in the mould of a central midfielder more than a tough-tackling, “built like a brick shithouse” (as my dad might say) player that will make getting through the middle of the pitch miserable.

Lastly, and in a similar vein, newly-retired Patrick Vieira has been in the media saying our current team are better with a football, but physically softer, than the Invincibles. Hard to disagree with the latter point; though I think the likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, and the rest of the 03-04 team would have smacked our current team all over the pitch in a game – both with and without the ball. Either way, Paddy was a legendary player and one of the all-time great #4’s for Arsenal; it’s just sad he’s not instilling his winning mentality and toughness here instead of over at cash-saturated City.

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