Arsenal Transfer Analysis: Jermain Defoe
28, Striker, Tottenham Hotspur
Certain journalists within the English media have been writing intermittently about Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe being transferred to Arsenal, among others, for several weeks.
Defoe is a sparky, fast, hungry poacher that gets into the right positions and listened to Ian Wright when he told him ‘Get your shots on target.’ An avalanche of goals over his career spanning two spells at Tottenham show the advice has served him well. There is indeed room in the squad for Arsenal to have a player selfish enough to take a shot where others select a pass. In a quick passing, 2 or 3 touch move; Arsenal strikers often find room in and around the box. My concern is that Defoe has not got the body strength to hold the line or hold the ball on his own as a main striker in the current 4-3-3. People have said this could not be true as Defoe and Wright were so similar, however people have quickly forgotten Wright’s remarkable physical prowess. Built like a flyweight boxer, 5’9, blessed with high strength to bodyweight ratio and brave enough to take on Peter Schmeichel (at a time when few dared to look at him) meant that Wright was a different animal altogether. Defoe, by contrast, stands at just 5’7 with a slim build.
Arsenal are employing a 4-3-3 formation primarily at present. A necessity of the team structure (unless you have players of the quality of Barcelona) is that there is a powerful and strong player at the top of the team’s spine to glue it all together and bring wide players into the game. Van Persie has attempted to adapt his game to include this required dynamic, but he is too brittle and too gifted a forward to be playing directly against such powerful defenders as Huth, Vidic and Distin over a 48 game League campaign. Equally, Van Persie is too dangerous at shooting and too slow a sprinter to be dropped too deep into a ‘False 9’ position. Much like Defoe, Van Persie and Defoe would both benefit from having a stronger partner. Ironically, I would say they could play together in a 4-4-2. Defoe knows that alongside the Dutchman he would use a lot more movement to make space, using quick movements one way or another in order to give him a passing option.
Benik Afobe has grown into promising young striker and is surely only 2 years behind doing what Daniel Sturridge is doing – scoring goals and frightening Premier League defences. Signing Defoe, a player I believe will ultimately lose his England place this season, on a 4 year deal or so could seriously inhibit the development of Afobe. Afobe deserves a Championship loan this season or to be included in Arsenal Carling Cup squads. He is English, well spoken and clean living in lifestyle. Apart from a solitary outburst on Twitter that he should be playing at Huddersfield, he has shown himself to be popular and supportive of his fellow professionals. Defoe, by contrast, has had various failed relationships and several ‘Kiss and Tells’ made by women to newspapers about him. Under the microscope of a bigger club I question whether Defoe would retain sufficient professionalism to fit in under Arsène Wenger. Wenger seemed to lose faith in signing British players after trouble with Pennant. I understand Jay Emmanuel Thomas is heading towards being in the same bracket.
Furthermore, Defoe could find himself getting less football at Arsenal. Certain players seem to enjoy the reflected glow and trappings of being a squad player in a big team squad. Defoe wants to play and I do not think he would be content to come to Arsenal and be a squad player, which he most certainly would be. Neither is there any reason why Tottenham would ever consider selling to Arsenal, a team they would be hoping they can overhaul for 4th place next season.
I would be surprised if Defoe stayed at Tottenham. Unfortunately for him they have evolved without him. Tottenham are at the stage where they need a first rate world class forward to propel them on as the rest of the team are finally gathering that quality. I compare Tottenham as needing to make the key signing that Rafael Benítez made for Liverpool did when they bought Torres. Poor signings followed and Xabi Alonso was moved, but ultimately that purchase by Liverpool moved them up a level and a 2nd place finish in the League followed. A hard working, good finisher with limited technical skill is just not enough to punish European defence’s anymore. Tottenham want a Falcao or Benzema to move them to the next level.
Defoe is extremely British because his technical ability is just enough to score goals In England. Like I said; he’s fast, sparky and instinctive but limited. He is a sharp weapon that can take chances but could he hurt Real Madrid or Barcelona? I do not think so. Will Wenger take a gamble on a 28 year old on high wages and actually succeed in getting him from our biggest rivals? I doubt it.
Click here to read RedDetective’s previous dose of Transfer Analysis on West Brom frontman Peter Odemwingie.
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