In the end, they did it. After 38 games and a...
On the Hunt for Huntelaar
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the Dutchman affectionately known as “the Hunter” could be the first key Arsenal signing of the January window if rumors are true.
Huntelaar has long been rumored to be an Arsenal target as the club’s lack of fire power grew more and more evident this fall. Now, according to L’Equipe (the same source that had Cazorla and Giroud signing before anyone else) is reporting that Arsenal is close to landing the player.
The signing could be a very shrewd piece of business for Arsenal as the Dutchman heads into the final six months of his contract at Schalke. The reported fee for Huntelaar could be around £4-£6 million, and when you figure in a salary of around £85k per week the final deal could be around £17.5 mill (amortised over the length of the contract).
For a player who has no trouble finding the back of the net, in my opinion – it’s a steal.
The Dutchman defies the current idea that a fox in the box poacher is no longer relevant in the modern game. In the year’s Champion’s League alone, he remains the only player this season to score in every match of the group stages.
He knows what his job is and he revels in it. Ruud Van Nistlerooy in an interview used to say that he became addicted to the sound of the ball in the back of the net. In an interview with UEFA.com it was something that Huntelaar agreed with –
“When you hear it you spend the whole of the next week longing to hear it again,” he said. “It’s like the elixir of life.”
The signing of Huntelaar would give Arsenal a player who is in the form of his career. In 2011/2012 he had 44 goals in all competitions (Bundesliga, Europa Cup, and German Cup). This season he already has 10 goals in all competitions.
The Hunter’s nickname is well earned having for the most part been successful wherever he had gone. Starting off at PSV and bouncing around to a couple other clubs in Holland, he finally landed at Heerenveen where he netted 33 goals in 46 league games. This led to a move to Ajax where he scored a stunning 76 goals in 92 league games.
Again, his prolific scoring ability led to his being signed by Real Madrid in 2009. However, a misunderstanding in UEFA’s registration rules meant he could not play in the Champion’s League for Madrid and he was subsequently moved after 7 months. It should be noted that in 13 matches he played for Madrid he scored 8 times.
A subsequent move to Milan also didn’t end well and it wasn’t until he landed in Germany that the striker truly found his form again netting 48 times in 47 starts.
Huntelaar is a strong man in the box. He heads the ball exceptionally well, and has a shot that can come off of either foot. Bernd Shuster likened his ability to that of Marco Van Basten, a comparison that KJH welcomed.
“He was a striker, and it was great to train with him because he gives such good tips,” says Huntelaar who trained under Van Basten at Ajax.
Under Schalke manager Huub Stevens, Huntelaar is given the freedom to play and is this trust in Huntelaar’s abilities that has allowed the player to flourish. It is also why I think he would flourish under Wenger.
Wenger is notorious for his perceived lack of tactical nous. However, one of the benefits of the Wenger system (whatever that is) is the fact that he trusts his players with the freedom to ply their trade on the pitch. His training is all about that It promotes players making the right choices. If Wenger is bringing him in, it’s because he knows he needs that menacing person to keep defenses honest and put a little fear that teams felt when Drogba was on the pitch.
Arsenal don’t have that kind of player right now.
This isn’t to say that Huntelaar is the league’s next Drogba. No, Huntelaar is quick and strong but not on the same level that Drogba in his prime was. However, with the ball at his feet or in the air Huntelaar is always a threat to score. Someone like this, like Drogba or Van Persie is what Arsenal need right now.
However, the signing only works if the midfield and wing supply chain is good. Olivier Giroud isn’t a poor signing. The problem I see here is that we aren’t playing to his strengths and when we do our crosses are poor or our support has been lack luster.
It makes no sense signing a player like Huntelaar if these areas don’t improve.
Some people question signing a twenty-nine year old to what would amount to a 3-4 year deal. These are the same people who probably complain we don’t have enough experience in the squad. As I mentioned earlier Huntelaar is a shrewd signing. Arsenal can get him on the cheap and there is no worry of jetting off to another club as this is likely his last big contract.
I have an added bonus that I keep pointing out – on the international scene he is competing for time against Robin Van Persie and it has built into a rivalry that as can best be described is “unfriendly.” It wouldn’t hurt to have someone on the squad that wants to show that he can be just as good if not better than the former Arsenal man.
Looks like Henry will defintiely be coming back for a third stint at Arsenal. The word is that his first game could be the League Cup tie against Swansea. However, this deal may be slightly different than last seasons. Word is that both Henry and Arsenal are pushing the Red Bulls and MLS to make the deal last until May – through the end of the Premier League season. This is being reported in both the US and England. If so it would then give Arsenal Henry, Huntelaar (assuming he signs) and Giroud as options up top.
Henry has shown last season and even in his MLS play that while the silky moves of his glory years may have faded, the brain and the shot of the Champion still remain. Plus having him around adds the leadership factor that I feel is still missing from the club. Finally, he could also be a fundamental link between the coaches and the players acting as a teacher for the players and a conduit for the coaches to make sure their message is getting through.
Finally, Arsenal did look likely to be in for West Ham’s Mohamed Diame. However, during West Ham’s 3-2 loss to Liverpool yesterday, Diame went out with a leg injury that will now keep him out for up to 3 months. Now, depending on how jaded you are, it may just say that he is more likely to sign for Arsenal under those circumstances. However, the strong interest the club had in him, goes to show that there is continued interest in strengthening aspects of the midfield, especially in the defensive holding area.
Until next time, stay Goonerish!!