Salomon Kalou to Arsenal: Detective’s Analysis
There is not much that Kalou cannot do. He scores late goals from headers because he has played alongside a dominating juggernaut beast called Didier Drogba, and defenders do not always mark him the way they ought to when there appears a more obvious threat. All winger-forwards should be able to finish off strikers chances in the air for the the 4-3-3 system to be truly effective. Walcott does not because he is not sure where the ball will end up, and Gervinho does not because he isn’t concentrating and lacks aggression. Those players that run the line, and still finish like a striker are rare. Bale, Ronaldo, Podolski, Alexis Sanchez all can. Interestingly, Kalou can too.
Deceptively tall, naturally athletic, quick, lithe and wriggly; Kalou could score and make things happen in our attacking third. He’s a better finisher and runs where Walcott should to score tap ins and headers. Does he have the fire, heat and passion to win games week in-week out? I’m not sure.
However, Arsenal want a player deemed not good enough to be a regular in the Chelsea side. Their signing players like Mata, Torres, Lukaku and frequently benching the Ivorian tells me they don’t really rate him. When Chelsea want to keep a player they always succeed because they have great resources and strong negotiators behind the scenes.
The message it would send by buying him fits into the latter of Arsenal’s two transfer strategies; 1) Sign the best young talent 2) Make opportunist and cheap signings (Park, Chamakh). It is not going to make Robin van Persie want to sign, it won’t scare Tottenham, it won’t sell ten thousand shirts, it’s not a ‘momentum’ signing that could kick start a season where a player arrives in rich form (Arshavin), and it’s not going to draw in other big signings.
We know that a few seasons ago Luis Felipe Scolari claimed that Arséne Wenger had wanted to sign Kalou as a striker. Wenger will obviously be desperate to sign a player that can play through the centre in the place of Robin van Persie. 36 goals in 67 games at Feyenoord is proof he can play there. Henry is short term, Chamakh could yet be sold and is ineffectual, Park has no present or future, and there are no serious alternatives at the moment. I expect Liverpool to join the race, because bar the fading Kuyt they don’t have a player that can score or run between lines and onto a target-man’s knockdown. Kalou’s contract expires this summer and a price of around£3m for a 26 year old that is “hardworking, versatile, eager to improve, and unafraid of the physical side of the game” (Mourinho) could be a bargain.
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