Need to know: Arsenal
LONDON (AP) — Five things to know about Arsenal going into the 2013-14 English Premier League season:
NO MAJOR SIGNING
During an offseason in which manager Arsene Wenger was expected to spend big on players, Arsenal has managed to complete just one signing — striker Yaya Sanogo from second-tier French club Auxerre, on a free transfer. The 20-year-old Sanogo scored 11 goals in 24 appearances last season and has represented France at Under-21 level. Wenger failed in his attempt to sign Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, who joined Napoli from Real Madrid and competed against Arsenal for his new side in the Emirates Cup, a pre-season tournament.
THE SUAREZ SAGA
Arsenal’s pursuit of Luis Suarez has been one of the biggest transfer stories of the summer but appears to have reached a dead end. Wenger had a 40,000,001 pound bid ($62 million) for the Liverpool striker rejected. The 26-year-old Suarez, who scored 30 times for Liverpool last season, went public with his desire to leave the side for the London club, citing his desperation to play in the Champions League at the peak of his career. Days later, reports in the English media quoted Liverpool owner John W. Henry as saying they cannot sell Suarez to a club they want to beat to a Champions League place and gave a resounding assurance Suarez would not leave Liverpool.
ARSHAVIN, GERVINHO, OTHERS DEPART
Despite only bringing in one player, Wenger has overseen a host of exits at the Emirates. Gervinho has joined Italian club Roma for an undisclosed fee and Andrei Arshavin has rejoined Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia on a free transfer. Defender Sebastien Squillaci has likewise departed, joining French side Bastia also on a free, while goalkeeper Vito Manone has moved to fellow Premier League club Sunderland. Defender Johan Djourou will spend next season on loan at German club Hamburg, while midfielder Denilson has joined Sao Paolo and Andre Santos moved to Flamengo.
WILSHERE IS VITAL
Midfielder Jack Wilshere staying fit could be integral to Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League and winning a trophy for the first time since its FA Cup triumph in 2005. The 21-year-old Wilshere, a central midfielder who links play between midfield and attack and has an eye for goal, returned to the first team last season after recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out for the entire 2011-12 campaign. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, potentially Wilshere’s first international tournament, just a year away, the England international will be keen to enjoy a successful year with Arsenal.
END OF AN ERA
Chairman Peter Hill-Wood stepped down as chairman due to serious health issues, ending the 83-year association between the Hill-Wood family and Arsenal. Hill-Wood had a major heart attack in December 2012, but despite beginning to recover he has handed over the role of chairman to Chips Keswick, a former director of the Bank of England. Hill-Wood took over as Arsenal chairman in 1982.