Thursday 10 June 2010

Who I'll be scouting at the World Cup

858 words. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 25 seconds.

Arsene may not fancy making judgements on the basis of one tournament but that isn’t going to stop me.

Half the fun of World Cups is working out which players we might sign and which we should sign. I have to admit my choices rarely fall into both categories and I doubt this year will be any different but it will be interesting to try and spot some of the lesser known talents that could make wise investments.

The priorities are obvious – goalkeeper, centre back and defensive midfielder so my list is dominated by players in those positions. Some you will be familiar with, some less so and some I didn’t even know existed until I started trawling through the squad lists looking for old, scary defenders.

In the interests of openness and hopefully being able to claim some reflected glory if some of the lesser lights actually turn out to be half decent, below is my list of scouting targets.


Maarten Stekelenburg, Holland

Plays for Ajax and is the best goalkeeper in Holland so surely he must be better than Almunia?

Samir Handanovic, Slovenia

Linked with Bayern Munich in the past, he’s 6ft 5in and rated as one of the best keepers in Serie A where he plays for Udinese.

Diego Benaglio, Switzerland

No 1 for Wolfsburg when they won the German championship the season before last he looks tidy, although less imposing than Stekelenburg and Handanovic.

Centre back

Nicolas Burdisso, Argentina

Not a giant but experienced and seemingly hard as nails. Was responsible for starting the Valencia-Inter mass brawl a few years ago. Hopefully better than Nelson Vivas.

Stephen Mbia, Cameroon

Has been linked with the Arse over the past few weeks. Won the league with Marseille last year. Has been linked with Newcastle in the past which isn’t perhaps the greatest endorsement.

Jan Durica, Slovakia

Big, strong defender. Can’t claim to know anything about him but he has a decent track record.

Luisao, Brazil

I’ve seen him play a few times but never really considered him for us. But he has the height and presence that could help us, though he may not be first choice for Brazil.

Per Mertersacker, Germany

Another name that has been strongly linked with us recently (who hasn’t?). From memory he has the defensive qualities that would help us and at 6ft 6in is naturally good in the air but his lack of ball-playing ability may rule him out of being a realistic target for Wenger.

Neven Subotic, Serbia

Will partner Vidic at the back and is apparently the ‘hot property’ for Europe’s elite. Younger than I think we need (21) but will be interesting to see if he’s good as claimed.

Victor Bernadez, Honduras

Well, you need some excuse to watch Honduras, don’t you? Has 43 caps, plays for Anderlecht, is 28 and stands at 6ft 1in. His teammate Palacios isn’t bad so would he be worth a punt?

Arne Friedrich, Germany

Another experienced German (72 caps) who, again from memory, is a reliable performer. Can also play at right back and is a free agent having just left Hertha Berlin.


Michael Bradley, USA

A classic ‘box-to-box’ guy who caught my eye at the Confederations Cup last year. Will be interesting to see how he handles Lampard et al on Saturday. May lack the bulk we need.

Jeremy Toulalan, France

Would appear to be one of the most natural candidates to fit into our midfield. His game has always appeared simple and unobtrusive to the eye. Let’s see if he’s deceptively influential or just peripheral.

Felipe Melo, Brazil

Regularly linked with us but has apparently struggled at Juventus. A mainstay for Brazil (unlike, say, Denilson) it will be interesting to see just how impressive he is at the highest level.

Miguel Veloso, Portugal

We’ll have all seen him before and I think he’s flattered to deceive. Has always appeared slower than Wenger would accept, has he improved recently?

Milos Ninkovic, Serbia

Much more of a wild-card than the other familiar midfield names here. The right age and size, he’s a regular for Dynamo Kiev so let’s see if he can play.

Gokhan Inler, Switzerland

Yes, we all know the name but is he worthy of the speculation? Didn’t look like it at Euro 2008 and is perhaps a mini-Diaby when we require a powerhouse.

Anthony Annan, Ghana

One of the players who has been linked with us as a trialist when a teenager, Annan is currently playing for Rosenborg. Could he be worthy of filling the shoes of Essien?

Mario Bolatti, Argentina

To my eye looks similar to Xabi Alonso. Only has five caps and is rated by Maradona (again, not the greatest endorsement). Scored the goal that got his team to the finals. Signed for Fiorentina in January.

There you have it. No doubt Arsene will be concentrating on unearthing another 17-year-old midget for £100,000 but none of these people would cost the earth and are all realistic targets. Let the matches commence and let’s see if these guys, or some other lesser lights, could make a big enough impression to warrant yet more transfer speculation.

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