When the transfer window opens on January 1, Premier League clubs will be actively searching for new players to either help them finish in the coveted top-five to play in Europe, or to avoid the dreaded drop down into the Football League Championship.
One club that will certainly be looking for a new addition or two is league leaders Arsenal. The situation at striker seems to be under control with Olivier Giroud able to carry the load with ease, but the apparent lack of depth behind him is a cause for concern. The question then arises whether or not to pursue a world-class striker midway through the season, or to loan someone in for six months and pursue a long-term target in the summer.
It’s rumored the Gunners have agreed a six-month loan deal for Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata to help Giroud, as well as allowing the player to receive the playing time he needs to further his development. Morata is highly regarded in Madrid, but has fallen down the pecking order due to the overabundance of talent currently at the Santiago Bernabeu.
If the rumor is true, Arsene Wenger would be pulling off quite a coup in bagging the young Spaniard. Not only is Wenger capturing a potentially world-class youngster, but he’s also stealing him out right out of rival Tottenham Hotspur’s grasp. Spurs have been interested in Morata since the summer and were thought to be interested in moving for him again in January.
An early capture of Morata would be a great addition for the Gunners moving forward competing in the Premier League and upcoming FA Cup matches when the club enters the competition in January. Since Morata has featured for Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League this season already, he’s ineligible to feature for Arsenal.
Another position the Gunners will be possibly looking to strengthen is fullback, preferably on the right side. Boasting the reliable Bacary Sagna, the Gunners have an established first choice at right-back. They also have Carl Jenkinson as cover in case anything happens to Sagna or he needs a rest. However, Sagna is in the final year of his contract with the Gunners and would be able to sign a pre-contract with another team in January if he wishes to move from North London.
Enter Manchester City defender and English international Micah Richards. Richards has fallen behind preferred choice right-back Pablo Zabaleta since Manuel Pellegrini took over the Citizens. The 25-year-old has featured for his country from the U16 level on, including at the European Under-21 Championships in 2009 and the 2012 Summer Olympics for Great Britain.
Reports are that Richards wants to feature for England in the upcoming World Cup, and the only way he sees that as being possible is to move away from the Etihad Stadium.
With Sagna’s future not set in stone at Arsenal, a move for Richards may be on the cards. The Englishman’s versatility in defense, much like Sagna, has allowed him to play fullback and center-back. Adding Richards would provide cover if Sagna did leave in the summer, along with adding a reliable fourth option at center-back. Unfortunately for the Gunners, Richards is cup-tied like Morata and is unable to feature in the Champions League.
Richards would likely be available for around $16 million, which is virtually a steal for a strong, versatile defender still in the prime of his career. Morata would cost nothing in terms of a transfer fee, but the Gunners would have to cover his wages, something that shouldn’t be any cause for concern. With these two seemingly easy additions to the North Londoners, Arsenal may very well end their silverware drought come May.