The BBC recently reported that Arsenal’s Manuel Almunia and Nicklas Bendtner were both in talks regarding a potential move away from the North London club. The announcement came after both players were left out of the Gunner’s 23-man squad for their Asian pre-season tour. Confirmation followed soon after that they were excluded so that they would have more freedom to negotiate terms regarding their transfers.
Speaking at a press conference in Malaysia, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted: “Both of them are possible departures. They are talking to other clubs at the moment. I cannot tell you which ones”.
It’s widely believed that Portuguese club side Benfica are interested in acquiring Bendtner’s signature and the big Dane is valued by some sources at £9m. Almunia on the other hand is tipped to return back home to Spain and it’s likely that the Gunner’s wouldn’t receive too much money from his sale.
Since joining Arsenal in 2004 from Celta Vigo, Almunia has gone through a series of ups and downs. Arsenal fans will no doubt argue that he has been given more chances at the club than his performances have merited and will thus be happy to see the back of him. I still maintain that Almunia is an excellent shot-stopper; it’s the other more serious deficiencies to his game that kept him from becoming a decent asset for the Gunners.
Firstly his decision making is awful. I think it’s more accurate to say that he has no decision making process – something which has cost Arsenal over the years. Thanks to Almunia’s ‘injury’, the Gunners oversaw the rise of Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny who has now established himself as the number one goalkeeper at the club.
It’s clear that it’s in Almunia’s best interest to move on. He’s not good enough to make it at Arsenal and if he doesn’t find football elsewhere his career may well suffer. It’s a sad situation for a man who was once tipped to pull on England’s goalkeeping jersey (thanks to weird rules regarding Nationality at International level).
Bendtner on the other hand made 32 appearances and only managed to pick up 8 goals. Whilst we have to allow for the fact that most of his appearances were as a substitute, it’s still clear that he isn’t providing the Gunners with enough firepower. A hat-trick against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup aside, Bendtner’s season never really took off.
Many Arsenal fans may also find it difficult to forgive him for his miss in the dying seconds against Barcelona in the Champions League. The fact remains however, he’s a fairly good striker, that I would argue falls just below Arsenal quality. I could see him doing well at a mid-table club or in Italy or Spain. If the Gunners can sell for around £8-9m, then that’s a good piece of business.
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