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Jul 3, 2014

No need for panic over Arsenal transfer silence

Cesc Fabregas admits former manager Arsene Wenger turned down the chance to bring the Spaniard back to Arsenal.

Every year, supporters dream of the sight of a brand-new superstar holding their club's shirt aloft. However, Arsenal fans are terrified that they have already seen the iconic images of their summer. There is a growing fear that, rather than the glossy unveiling of a string of stellar recruits, they'll end up looking back at pictures of Cesc Fabregas holding a Chelsea shirt aloft and manager Arsene Wenger relaxing on a Brazilian beach.

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You can forgive Arsenal fans for their pessimism. In recent transfer windows, the club have done little to fill them with confidence. Were it not for the hurried transfer on Mesut Ozil on deadline day last year, the summer of 2013 would have been disastrous. Even with Ozil on board, Arsenal failed to get the striker they badly needed. They were similarly negligent in January, and it may have contributed to the death of their title challenge.

The main reason for concern is that Arsenal have plenty of business to do -- and everyone knows it. Wenger usually likes to play his cards close to his chest during the transfer window. He is renowned for his elliptical comments to the media. However, this summer is different. The long wait for a centre-forward, plus the loss of Bacary Sagna and Lukasz Fabainski, has laid Wenger's hand bare. His requirements are an open secret. As well as a goalkeeper, a right back and a striker, Arsenal also need a centre-half and a holding midfielder. For a club whose transfer business is typically conduced in an unhurried manner, a shopping list of that length is cause for some alarm.

In truth, it's too early for any gnawing fears to develop in to full-blown panic. The World Cup is still going on, and the transfer merry-go-round has yet to kick fully into gear. What's more, there are signs that Arsenal are beginning to ramp up their activity.

With Sagna having confirmed his move to Manchester City, securing a new right back will be high up the agenda. Given that, it's no great surprise to read stories linking Arsenal with a bid for France international fullback Mathieu Debuchy. According to L'Equipe, the Newcastle defender has had "contacts" with Arsenal about a prospective move.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is currently preoccupied with television duties at the World Cup.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is currently preoccupied with television duties at the World Cup.

It sounds like a very plausible story. Although Debuchy fits the bill in some respects, he wouldn't be the most inspiring signing. Debuchy has spent 18 months on the Tyne without making any great waves. Stumbling through the 2013-14 season as part of an ill-disciplined Newcastle side was hardly a convincing audition for a move to a Champions League club. Having lost Sagna to Manchester City, signing Debuchy would almost feel like a step back.

However, who else is available? It's not easy to rattle off a list of potential candidates for the spot Sagna has vacated. Optimistic Arsenal fans might have hoped they could persuade Seamus Coleman to abandon Everton, but the Irishman has since decided to extend his deal with the Toffees. Atletico Madrid's Juanfran enjoyed an excellent season, but followed Coleman's lead by committing to his current club. There simply aren't many other outstanding right backs on the market this summer.

Some Arsenal supporters have talked excitedly of the prospect of luring young Ivorian Serge Aurier to London. However, Arsenal already have two promising young right backs in the shape of Carl Jenkinson and Hector Bellerin. Wenger is a stated admirer of both players, and will be keen to see them fulfill their potential in Arsenal colours. Paying big money for Aurier would effectively block their path to the first team for the foreseeable future. Debuchy, on the other hand, is already 28. He has the experience required to drop straight in to the side and mentor Jenkinson over the next few years. It would not be the most exciting summer signing, but it could be an eminently sensible one.

A deal for Alexis Sanchez is an altogether more mouthwatering prospect for Gunners fans. The Chilean striker followed up an impressive 2013-14 campaign with a set of stirring World Cup performances. Now, according to reports in the Spanish and English press, Wenger has identified him as the man to augment Arsenal's attack.

He's precisely what they need. When Arsenal lost Theo Walcott to injury, their front-line lacked speed and movement. Sanchez possesses both in spades. Wenger has already made clear he wants a striker who can play with Olivier Giroud, or in place of the Frenchman, and Sanchez has the requisite versatility. Last summer, Wenger gave us a clue as to what he was looking for when he bid for Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Sanchez shares much of the Uruguayan's brilliance, without the biting.

That similarity to Suarez could make Liverpool a significant rival for Sanchez's signature. With Barcelona attempting to snatch Suarez away from the Premier League, the Anfield club could yet try to force the Catalans to include Sanchez in any bid. If Arsenal want their man, they may have to move quickly and decisively.

And there's the rub. This year, the club cannot afford to dawdle. If Wenger and his team can be bold, the summer still promises much. Time isn't quite running out, but it is moving along. With the World Cup winding down and preseason activity just around the corner, now is the time for Arsenal to begin making concrete moves. The fans are waiting.

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