Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Thursday February 8 2007
Rumours have surfaced today that Juventus are set to make a summer move for Arsenal`s defensive midfielder - Gilberto Silva.
According to reports Juve are looking to replace Patrick Vieira and Emerson, who both left after Juventus were relegated for their part in a match fixing scandal last season.
Personally I can`t see Wenger letting him go. I know he's 30, getting on in Wenger's books and people are ranting about Denilson but there are a few reasons why Wenger will not let him leave, at least not yet.
We already have one of, if not the youngest squads in the Prem. Letting one of our most experienced players leave would be a huge mistake, expically at such a crucial time in the devolpment of 'the kids'. Wenger knows this.
There are players who could be seen as potential replacements - Diaby, Flamini, Denilson and Song are the most obvious choices.
Diaby shone in the game away to Wigan last season, I think it was in the Carling Cup first leg. In the first half he played as a holding midfielder and did a fantastic job, but he is far more effective in a PV4 role, putting himself about, winning the ball all over the park rather than just in front of the back four.
Flamini certainly has the attitude, the determination and the strength to play in the Gilberto role but he does not have the positional sense or the discipline required for such a role. He is still young and I know that both things I say are lacking will come with experience but can Arsenal really afford to give him the sustained run in the first team required to gain that experience?
Denilson. What a prospect? He has had very little game time for Arsenal to date but I'm sure he'll be a first team regular in the next few years. He has a bit of everything, an eye for a pass, strong in the tackle, a good turn of pace, determination, good upper body strength and a pretty impressive right peg. I fell that his natural flair (note the way he danced past 3 or 4 Sp*rs defenders at the Grove last week!) would be wasted as a holding midfielder.
That leaves us with Alex Song. I'm not his biggest fan but I know that he has the potential to replace Gilberto, but not for a while yet. As with Flamini, he needs a good run in the first team to improve his positional sense and to a lesser extent his discipline.
So, the most logical long-term replacement for Bert is Song, that may surprise you (unless your name is Tim Stillman or Paul Mustchin) but looking at our current options it`s logical.
That my friend is the reason Wenger will not be letting Gilberto go anywhere in the summer. He has at least one more season at Arsenal, probably more.
Date:Thursday February 8 2007
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