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Time for Arsenal to cash in on Czech star?

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Written by Harry Cloke

Not so long ago now, Alexander Hleb divided Arsenal fans. He was a tidy, if rather slight player who had an eye for a pass but simply didn’t provide the Gunners with enough goals. After three years with the club and only seven goals he was shipped off to Barcelona. He is now on loan at Birmingham City. Hleb is worthy of consideration because I believe that Arsenal currently hold a similar player amongst their number.

Tomas Rosicky has been with Arsenal since 2006. I’m not questioning Rosicky’s talent or ability by any means, but he is a little too goal-shy for the likes of Arsenal. That’s always been the case. Rosicky is not the kind of player you ought to bring on if you’re chasing a game. He’s the kind of player that tends to score when Arsenal are already 2-3 goals to the good. He is the master of the ‘icing-on-the-cake’ goal. For all his talent and ability, the fact remains that he hasn’t scored in the last 34 games he has played in.

The Mail have suggested that the Arsenal midfielder is at the top of Gerard Houllier’s January transfer wish-list. With the Czech’s Arsenal contract set to expire in June, is it time for Arsenal to cash in?

There’s already healthy competition in Arsenal’s midfield and it’s known that Rosicky wants more games. He told the Press early this season that he “would like to play more. I could imagine playing more even though I have been involved in a lot of fixtures.” But with players like Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin ahead of him in the roster, it’s little surprise that his goal-drought is keeping him from playing as much as he would like.

Fans of Rosicky may be keen to point out that he adds something else to the team. He can pick out a decent pass (He’s currently Arsenal’s fourth highest assist provider) and is a surprisingly good tackler for a player of his build. He’s also 30 years old and has been in the game a lot longer than most of the youngsters currently playing for the Gunners. In this respect he provides the Arsenal squad with invaluable experience and somebody for young players to look up to and approach when they are struggling.

In response to the claim that Rosicky adds ‘something else’ to the squad, I would question whether this is enough to merit renewing his contract. Sure, Nasri is firing on all cylinders right now, but what happens if he goes through a bad patch of form? Can we expect Rosicky to come in and start scoring? I very much doubt it. Wenger needs wingers who can chip in with the goals, so is much more likely to find himself looking towards the likes of Theo Walcott and Andriy Arshavin.

Furthermore, although Rosicky’s age means he has an experienced head on his shoulders, it also means that he is approaching Arsenal’s ‘danger-zone’. Wenger does not give players who are over the age of 30 long term contracts. Would Rosicky be content to work on a one year rolling contract? Given that he’s already pretty injury-prone, won’t he be looking for more career-security than that? Would Rosicky staying with Arsenal be productive for either party?

With his contract up in the summer, if Villa come in with a decent offer for Rosicky in January, Arsenal should sell. His sale will make room for a player like Aaron Ramsey to step into the first team on his return from Nottingham Forrest and would be generally beneficial for all.

This article was first published on FootballFanCast.com

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