Sahin to Liverpool is major blow for Arsenal
This week's news that Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin would be moving to Liverpool for a season long loan may not have seemed like a big deal to many Arsenal fans, but the Gunners are in a state of regression, a fact highlighted by the Turks snub of the north London club.
Speaking after Arsenal's 0-0 stalemate with Sunderland the Emirates Stadium last weekend, a frustrated Arsene Wenger lamented his side's lack of invention.
"We played with good spirit but we lacked a bit of overall creativity and the few chances we created we couldn't take," said the Gunners' manager. Our balance wasn't completely right, and our passing wasn't quick enough but that will come."
Midfielder Alex Song, provider of 11 of Arsenal's Premier League goals last season, departed to Barcelona soon after, underlining the need for innovative reinforcements. A number of names were touted but one name was particularly prevalent - that of Real Madrid midfielder Sahin.
Sahin is supremely experienced for a man of just 23. Not only does he have 31 international caps for Turkey to his name but he has won domestic titles in both Germany and Spain (although he was injured for much of Los Merengues' La Liga-winning campaign last year). A tidy passer with quick feet, Sahin's intelligence persuaded Jose Mourinho to recruit him last summer.
He would have been the perfect fit for Wenger's philosophy in the midst of Song's departure - though defensively susceptible, Sahin is surely more accomplished with the ball at his feet than the Cameroonian international and would slot effortlessly into the North London setup. As well as that, the Gunners could offer Champions League football - something that the Europa League-playing side that eventually signed him could not.
Liverpool have eventually hijacked the deal, thanks in no small part to the influence of boss Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers himself is the pioneer of his own unique ethos and such assertive footballing romanticism has landed his man, with a little help from a few parties. Firstly the Liverpool board, who offered a more attractive financial package to Real and Sahin than the Gunners did. Secondly, Jose Mourinho, who worked above Rodgers at Chelsea and maintains a friendship with the Reds manager. And finally, Xabi Alonso, who still has affectionate memories of his time at Anfield.
But where does it leave Arsene Wenger and Arsenal? The Gunners did marvellously to edge into an automatic Champions League spot at the back end of last season but, having lost the talismanic Robin van Persie and influential Alex Song, they are in danger of regressing should they not find replacements before the end of the transfer window.
The Sunday Mirror claim Wenger has now turned his attention to Newcastle midfielder Cheik Tiote, but Tiote, whilst being an excellent defensive midfielder in his own right, is a completely dissimilar player to Sahin and would represent a drastic change for Arsenal and Wenger. Not necessarily the creative man they are reportedly looking for, Tiote's physicality and aggressivness would give Arsenal a dimension they have not possessed since the days of Gilberto Silva and Patrick Vieira - both of whom were notably around the last time Arsenal won a major trophy, the FA Cup in 2005.
What seems more likely is a return to the pursuit of Yann M'Vila - a player whose value Arsenal baulked at earlier in the summer. M'Vila will most likely prove adequate compensation for missing out on Sahin - as long as Arsenal and Wenger can negotiate an appropriate deal for him. Otherwise creation of chances against stubborn defences like Sunderland last weekend could prove to be at a premium.