Date: 29th December 2009 at 11:08am
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The transfer widow opens on Friday. Arsene Wenger has said that he is looking with an interested eye at the market, firstly for a striker but he also wants to consider midfield options.

He also says that he doesn`t have any names for us but it isn`t possible to go into the transfer window without having considered what targets are feasible surely. Players whose contracts are to expire at the end of the season aren`t free to discuss their position with other clubs until the 1st of January but it would be naive to think that discussions with their agents and representatives wouldn`t have gone on or be going on sometime before the player himself can participate.

Few players of true quality are allowed to run down their contracts and those that do so hoping to maximise the financial benefits for themselves would be less inclined to move in January when the summer allows them possibly more choice and more money. But changed player contract laws are influencing transfer decisions at the mid season point more than has previously been the case. The fact is that once a player`s 3 year protected period has expired there is little to prevent that player moving on. The Webster ruling effectively gives a player the right to buy out the remainder of his contract after that period. Though it has never been fully tested in the courts until that day comes, if ever, then clubs have little option other than to accept that if a player wants to leave after 3 years (or 2 over the age of 28) there is little to prevent it.

Most contracts will of course run to the seasons end and few clubs want to lose worthwhile players mid season. By the same token only the disaffected and discontented players will want to move at this time. All of which makes the pot from which Wenger would seek to pluck established talent to augment the emerging talent we have quite a small one.

Ideally we would want to identify the players we want prior to the window opening and to conclude the business within the first few days but the market doesn`t often work as obligingly as that. As we found with Arshavin and to a similar extent in the summer with Chamakh clubs will play a game of brinkmanship to ensure they get the best deal possible. You can`t blame them for that but inevitably that means negotiations are protracted and can often extend right up until the window is about to close. Sometimes the deal comes together right at the end and sometimes not.

Wenger will have pencilled in some targets and indirectly will have sounded out those prospects but unless they are little known names, as Adebayor was when signed relatively early in the 2006 window along with Diaby, supporters may find that they will have to be patient and wait until the end of the window as they had to when signing Reyes in 2004 and Arshavin this year.

Of course there is always the prospect that Wenger will decide he can`t find anything better than we already have. That was the tone of comments made to the press by Peter Hill-Wood a few days ago when he said: “We have got a lot of money available to spend – money`s not the restriction.

“I spoke to Arsene about this a few days ago and he said he wasn`t prepared to go out and buy a player who is not better than the ones we have got. You try and find a world-class striker like Robin van Persie, regardless of how much money you have got.”

Hill-Wood added: “I am very confident still we have got a very good squad and some of these young boys who have come in have done really well. It could be Arsene will stick with what he has got. If we were to win our game in hand we would be second in the league.”

Just laying the groundwork for the brinkmanship to come perhaps? Simply playing the transfer game? It might take a few weeks yet to be sure.

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