The sound of alarm bells is steadily getting louder in north London, with Arsenal fans starting to panic that the club are slipping out of control under Arsène Wenger. A summer of promises of money to be spent and finally the available expenditure that can bring them in line with their title rivals has failed to materialise, only for the Gunners to be beaten 3-1 on home soil by Aston Villa on the opening day.
Add to this an early season injury crisis and a Champions League qualifier in the hostility of Fenerbahçe’s Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on Wednesday night, and you can’t blame the Emirates Stadium faithful for fearing that the wheels are falling off.
With high-profile targets such as Luis Suárez and Wayne Rooney now seemingly beyond their grasp, the club have identified Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye as a potential new face to strengthen their depleted squad. A £10 million bid was rejected by an incensed Alan Pardew, who subsequently omitted the France international from the side that lost 4-0 to Manchester City last night, due to “his head being turned.”
Cabaye’s qualities were instantly apparent upon his move to St James’ Park back in the summer of 2011, with the former Lille man impressing from the fledgling days of his time in the North East. The box-to-box midfielder played a substantial role in the Magpies’ fifth-placed finish in 2011-12, and was hailed as one of the signings of the summer as the moderate price of £5 million that Newcastle paid continued to look like exceptional value.
Cabaye, and subsequently Newcastle, did not have the same level of performance consistently last term, with the St James’ Park outfit underachieving and ending up in 16th place. Despite the dip in form that the midfielder suffered, which was partly due to playing in a deeper role at times and in an under-performing team, in no way should the international’s valuation drop as a reflection.
The 27-year-old’s energy and drive in the centre of the park was one of the features of his debut season, while Cabaye also posed a goal threat with his long-range shooting. His range of passing and movement off the ball has led him to become a regular in his national side, and certainly a star in the North East.
Despite the Gunners having the likes of deep-lying playmakers Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta in their ranks, Cabaye’s addition would offer an urgency and energy that could well be the shot in the arm that Arsenal need. There is an argument that a midfield enforcer is needed, which Cabaye is not, but the Newcastle man would certainly lift the collective pedigree of the midfield if he switched to the north London side.
However, Arsenal’s pursuit of the Les Bleus regular has not started well. The initial offer of £10 million was described by Alan Pardew as ‘not acceptable’, which is a fair summation due to Cabaye’s importance to Newcastle and his considerable ability.
Just because Newcastle managed to sign Cabaye for a cut-price deal does not mean Arsenal have the right to also. The powers that be at the North East club will not even have considered the offer, and Wenger will need to substantially increase his bid for Cabaye for Newcastle to be put in a position where they may sell. If they do opt to sell the midfielder, they will cop the brunt of frustration from the Toon Army, and Mike Ashley, Pardew etc will be fully aware of this.
Newcastle are also frustrated with the timing of the Gunners’ offer given their first game of the season, and as such Mr Wenger can expect a rather frosty response if he opts to return with an improved bid.
All-in-all, Cabaye is a player of the required quality to improve an Arsenal team that are crying out for some fresh blood. However, with Newcastle eager to hold onto the midfielder and incensed by the north London club’s actions so far, Arsenal fans may have to endure another frustrating transfer saga involving their club.