Posted on Wednesday, 4th January 2012 by David Seager
They say hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the above headline in retrospect is accurate as we speak in January 2012. During a transfer window which has seen us re-sign a veteran on loan and has us heavily linked with Lukas Podolski, we might just reflect as we struggle to back up our free scoring skipper on another Dutchman who got away…
So who is the top scorer in European club competition in 2011/12? Is it Lionel Messi, Mario Gomez or Cristiano Ronaldo? Well actually it is none of the above.
Messi and Gomez have 6 goals each in the Champions League, but the top scorer by some margin in the UEFA competition is none other than Nacer Barazite, who Arsene Wenger released for no fee a year ago on the 31st of January.
Arsene Wenger obviously thought after a season at Derby and a few minutes in the Carling Cup that young Nacer could not cut it in the big league, and to be fair, looking at Jermaine Pennant, Francis Jeffers, David Bentley, Richard Wright etc. He is normally right. However, the young Dutch winger come striker now playing up front for Austria Vienna, one the two giants of Austrian football, has scored 8 times in 440 minutes of football in six qualifying games for the Europa league and a further 3 in 6 group games.
Now we can argue about the strengths and merits of the Europa League, but 9 goals in 12 matches in top flight club competion is impressive by any standards. Indeed the goals in the group stages came against the likes of AZ Alkmaar and Malmo, who one would hardly describe as minnows.
Barazite initially left us on loan again at the start of last season, where he scored 3 in 11 matches for Vitesse Arnhem in the Dutch top flight before being snapped up on a permanent deal by the Austrians. The Austrians must have known that they had secured a super talent for NO money from Arsenal when he knocked in 4 goals in his first 17 appearances for his new team last term.
This season, in addition to his free scoring form in Europe, Nacer is also the second top scorer in the Austrian Bundesliga with 8 goals netted so far.
In short, in 30 matches he has notched up a staggering 19 goals for Austria Vienna in 2011/12 in all competitions.
His form since leaving Arsenal and being given first-team opportunities has made him a regular for the Dutch Under-21 squad, with 8 appearances and 1 goal since 2010. We all know the abundance of young talent there is in Holland, so this again reflects how much Nacer has come of age.
For the national side he has been playing regularly alongside Adam Maher of AZ, who is rumoured to be an Arsenal target.
I am not writing this because I feel we should resign him, although several Turkish, German and other English sides are looking at him. At 21 he is now a fully developed, in a strong 6’1” frame, converted from a wider to a more central striker and is scoring with alarming regularity.
I am not writing this with any satisfaction, but it does appear that we let Bazarite go on a free to replace him with a seemingly fully developed international, in Marouane Chamakh, also on a free, and in retrospect, Wenger made a mistake and Arsenal got the bad end of the deals. He also stuck with Carlos Vela a season longer, whilst Nacer was scoring regularly in Holland and Austria.
I am however writing this as a follow up to my piece on Benik Afobe on Friday. For years we have been saying that the current crop of youngsters from our production line will breakthrough and give us the ‘Arsenal DNA’ core we sometimes lack. So whilst many will clamour for Lukas Podolski, Eden Hazard and Mario Gotze, can we still find a balance to allow some of the current crop including Benik Afobe, Chuks Aneke, Emmanuel Frimpong, Henri Lansbury, Francis Coquelin, Ignasi Miquel, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the Kyle Bartley’s of this world to join Jack Wilshere as regulars in our first-team in the next few years? Please don’t let one or all these guys flourish elsewhere as Bazarite has done and join Steve Sidwell in coming back to haunt us.
PS: The price attached to Bazarite in the summer when Swansea were linked with him was £3 million, and since then he has scored 20 odd goals. What price now I wonder Arsene? I would guess closer to £8 million.
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Tags: Adam Maher, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Benik Afobe, Carlos Vela, Chuks Aneke, Cristiano Ronlado, David Bentley, Eden Hazard, Emmanuel Frimpong, Francis Coquelin, Francis Jeffers, Henri Lansbury, Ignasi Miquel, Jack Wilshere, Jermanine Pennant, Kyle Bartley, Lionel Messi, Lukas Podolski, Mario Gomez, Mario Gotze, Marouane Chamakh, Nacer Bazarite, Richard Wright
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