There is no “I” in “team” but there is an “I” in “champions”!
It happened a few weeks ago. I was walking down the street thinking about the law-suit I’m about to write and about the possibility that we sign Gonzalo Higuain – a striker who has scored over one hundred goals during his spell at Real Madrid – when it hit me. Has Higuain been just lucky to play for Real Madrid – a great club that always has had a lot of quality players who make their strikers’ – including Higuain – job easier; or Real Madrid should have been happy with the fact Higuain has been in their ranks?
The jury is still out on this one, and will probably come up with the final verdict once Higuain proves his prolific abilities somewhere where he won’t have a supply-line like the one he has had at Real Madrid.
Players like Higuain are rarely considered as the big guns. That category is reserved for world-class strikers like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Falcao, Aguero and Ibrahimović who have proved that they can win trophies for their respective teams, by banging goals on a regular basis and/or when it matters the most. We had had two of those not very long ago but until we find one or pair of those, we can watch statues of them.
Players like Higuain are side-kicks, those who also score important goals but they are second fiddle to their more established goal-scoring partner (in a way Higuain has been joint second fiddle with Benzema to Cristiano Ronaldo). Only those who like to check statistics will know that Higuain scored a goal at every 76 minutes in 2011-12 title-winning campaign, which means he scored more than one goal per game.
Perhaps the best example from the Premiership is another striker who has been connected with us for a long time. When you think about the Manchester Oilers title campaign in 2011-12, everyone will remember Aguero’s goal that was the championship winning one. Only a few will remember a goal Edin Džeko scored to make it 2:2. Džeko has always been in the shadow of Sergio Aguero’s non-disputable world-class quality, Carlos Tevez’ dance between madness and geniality, and Mario Balotelli’s scandals; despite the fact he had, at certain point of 2011-12, a goal-ratio of more than 1,5 goal per game, as it took him less than 60 minutes to score a goal.
Now, look what happened this season: Džeko was the best goal-scorer of City, but Aguero failed to match his performances from the last season, as well as the rest of world-class players from the City spine (Kompany and Yaya Toure), and City didn’t come anywhere near retaining the title.
On the other side of Manchester, United had a striker that delivered in the Premiership what was expected from him, especially in big matches and when United had to come from behind.
Now, what does this whole intro mean to Arsenal? It means a lot, especially given a war-chest that has been given to Arsene Wenger.
If we want to turn our excellent form from the last ten matches into a title contender team, we need a world-class presence in our attack. It’s hard to find a new Bergkamp or a new Henry – those sorts of players don’t fall from the sky on your training ground with the sign “I’m the world-class striker – recruit me!” on their parachute, land on their feet in the circle very close the ball, make a Zidanesque pirouette before making a run to the goal and putting it past a surprised goalkeeper.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I would be over the moon if we sign Higuain as I consider him to be a world-class finisher with a good variety of skills/goals in his repertoire; and to sign Džeko from the Oilers wouldn’t be a bad piece of business either.
However, if we want to make a serious challenge for the title, we have to aim a bit higher.
Apparently, Falcao is leaving Atletico Madrid for AS Monaco but there might be some problems for Monaco if they’ll have to accept the ultimatum made by other French clubs regarding taxes. I doubt that transfer – if it’s going to happen at all – will be announced before the season in Spain ends, so we can still make a move for him and offer him something that Monaco can’t (at least not this season): Champions’ League football, something Falcao hasn’t had lately (and once when he had, he scored against us!).
Robert Lewandowski is my personal favourite but there are huge warning signs, with the likes of Barrios, Sahin and, to the certain extent, Kagawa who didn’t repeat their impact from Borussia Dortmund elsewhere, which is more proof of how brilliant Juergen Klopp is.
It’s no wonder I mentioned Klopp, as there is a longer way to have a world-class striker than simply buying him, and it is connected with Arsene Wenger. Wenger is a manager who can make players over-achieve, can make them cross the thick line between a world-class finisher and a world-class striker, and the one between a world-class striker and a world-class player.
One might paraphrase that thing: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist” to say: “The greatest trick Wenger ever pulled was convincing his rivals that Adebayor’s and Nasri’s world-class exists.” If you take a look at the players who left Arsenal for greener pastures elsewhere, only Cashley Cole can say he maintained his level of performances from Arsenal (or even upgraded it). Even Van Judas has had a decline of form in the recent period, while also others who were playing in our attacking department haven’t found their level from Arsenal at their new employers: Nasri, Hleb, Adebayor, even Fabregas, Reyes and, yes, Henry, since neither of them matched their level from Arsenal, while Eduardo’s decline started in Arsenal due to an unfortunate cause.
There is no “I” in “team” – that is true, especially when you know a basic fact that football is a team sport. However, there is a reason why the word “champions” has “I” squeezed into itself, as it’s the brilliance of individuals that make the collective raise above the average.
Written by: Admir.