Arsenal: All Arsene's Saying, Is Give Park A Chance

Ok, so the signing of South Korea's skipper isn't in the same league as John Lennon's anti-war classic. But if Arsenal fans can ignore the negative sub-text, the technically gifted striker could prove a shrewd addition...
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At the time of writing, Park Chu-Young is yet to officially complete his transfer from Monaco to Arsenal, but such has been the reaction to his pending arrival at the Emirates, you could hardly blame the South Korean international if he called the whole thing off and took up an alternative offer from French Champions Lille.

Phone-ins and message boards have been littered with contributions from people bemoaning, what is perceived to be, a perfect example of where Arsene Wenger's going wrong in his attempts to take Arsenal forward.

The most polite comments say Park Chu-Young "doesn't excite" as a signing for Arsenal - the more derogatory comments have used his name to poke fun at Arsenal's transfer policy..."too young" etc.

The reality is that Park Chu-Young isn't 'too young', at 26 he should be in his prime, he's the Captain of his national side, has played at two World Cup Finals, and quite frankly, deserves a bit more respect.

Last season he was one of the shining lights in a struggling Monaco side that was relegated from Ligue 1 - enhancing his own reputation with a reasonable return of 12 goals in 33 games.

That goals return looks better when you consider many French sides adopted a safety first, defensive approach last season - with Ligue 1 averaging fewer goals per-game (2.34) than any of Europe's other top leagues.

For the record, the average goals per-game ratio in Serie A was 2.51, in La Liga it was 2.74, in the Premier League it was 2.80, in Germany's Bundesliga it was 2.92 and the Eredivisie it was 3.23.

However, it's fair to say that whatever statistics you look at, it certainly can't be claimed that Park Chu-Young is a 'marquee signing' - although that's not his fault and it doesn't mean he can't be a good addition to the Gunners squad, without necessarily being a regular starter.

Whether that happens or not, I believe Park Chu-Yong is a victim of circumstance, and the reaction to his pending transfer would have been totally different had it happened six years ago,

I'm sure there were similar raised eye-brows and mutterings of "who?" when Manchester United signed Park Ji-Sung from PSV Eindhoven for around £4m in July 2005 - he's since won nine major trophies.

Lee Chung-Yong might not have won any silverware at Bolton Wanderers, but he's another South Korean international who's really impressed in the Premier League, despite being unknown to many in England before his transfer from FC Seoul for £2.2m in 2009.

Now, I totally understand that all this will be of little comfort to frustrated Arsenal fans, who want to see their club spend big on several key signings - it was necessary before the losses of Fabregas and Nasri and has become absolutely imperative now, if Arsenal are to challenge for trophies and remain in the top four this season.

The early season form of Manchester United and Manchester City in particular, has shown the bar has been raised even further in the Premier League, and Arsenal are in danger of being left behind if they don't act now.

You can only imagine the positive influence three or four top quality players could have, on what's an already talented squad - the sprinkling of real class that could transform them from nearly-men into winners.

I'm talking about players like Emmanuel Petit, who'd captained Monaco to the French League title before signing for Arsenal in 1997, or Marc Overmars - already a Champions League winner when he arrived from Ajax - Sol Campbell's another example - an established England international, with eight seasons of Premier League experience, when he moved across North London in 2001.

After receiving in the region of £55m from Barcelona and Manchester City recently, Wenger surely has the disposable cash to sign several players of that calibre, whilst still having the luxury of taking educated guesses on players like Park Chu-Young.

It doesn't have to be one approach or the other, there's no reason why they can't co-exist - and Sunday's 8-2 mauling at the hands of Manchester United will surely have confirmed that to Wenger.

Big money, high profile signings like Rooney, Young and Nani, combining to devastating effect with a mixture of youth graduates and players who weren't so well known when they arrived at Old Trafford, such as Evans, Cleverley, Hernandez, Park Ji-Sung and Welbeck.

That said, I'm sure even Sir Alex Ferguson has looked on with admiration over the years at Arsene Wenger's amazing ability to buy players relatively cheaply, improve them greatly and then sell them on for big profits.

He's done it time and time again, from Anelka and Overmars to Fabregas and Clichy.

Those four players alone fetched in the region of £88m for Arsenal, and all, with the exception of Overmars, were about as well known to many in England as Park Chu-Young when they first arrived at Arsenal.

It would therefore be utter lunacy to try and dissuade Wenger from trying to unearth further rough diamonds - what's critical now, more than ever before in his time at Arsenal, is that Wenger merges that policy with a willingness to spend big on the select few that can make the difference between success and failure.

Whether that happens or not, I believe Park Chu-Young is a victim of circumstance, and the reaction to his pending transfer would have been totally different had it happened six years ago, when Arsenal were still winning silverware and the patience of supporters hadn't been so severely tested.

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