So for those of you, like me, who are hoping that RVP can be persuaded to stay at the team (a la Wayne Rooney in 2010 or Kobe Bryant in 2007 to name a few examples) if we can build enough talent around him this year, I figured I'd look at the squad restrictions to see what kind of moves we can/would need to make in order to keep van Persie.
-This assumes that the homegrown rule only applies to those who start the season as 21-year-olds (otherwise why wasn't Szczesny registered last year even though he turned 22 in April)-
So here are our players by number as of now:
2 - Diaby
3 - Sagna
4 - Mertesacker
5 - Vermaelen
6 - Koscielny
7 - Rosicky
8 - Arteta
9 - Park
10 - van Persie
11 - Santos
13 - Szczesny
14 - Walcott
15 - Oxlade-Chamberlain
16 - Ramsey
17 - Song
18 - Squillaci
19 - Wilshere
20 - Djourou
21 - Fabianski
23 - Arshavin
24 - Mannone
25 - Jenkinson
26 - Frimpong
27 - Gervinho
28 - Gibbs
29 - Chamakh
31 - Miyaichi
39 - Coquelin
46 - Lansbury
52 - Bendtner
Of those Ox, Ramsey, Wilshere, Jenkinson, Frimpong, Ryo, Coquelin, and Lansbury are underage so do not need to be registered. (note - Lansbury turns 22 in October, so he might need to be registered) There are other underage players, but since they don't affect the 25-man squad this year, I will forego listing them all.
With the home grown rule we need to have at least 8 home grown players (or at most 17 foreign players). Our home grown players that need to be registered are: Theo, Denilson, Ramsey, Song, Djourou, Mannone, Gibbs, Szczesny, Bartley and Bendtner. Denilson is already on loan for the year, and Mannone and Bendtner look to be leaving soon as well. This leaves us 7 homegrown players.
Assuming we keep RVP (that is the theme of this post) we only have 16 other foreign player spots. I am pretty sure that Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Rosicky, Arteta, Santos, Gervinho, Podolski, and Giroud are locks for a foreign player spot. That leaves 6 foreign player spots.
There are some players that may or may not leave this summer, such as: Diaby, Arshavin, Park, and Chamakh. Everybody else is almost assuredly leaving for good or on loan.
So, how do we improve the squad?
Well we have 1 homegrown player spot to play with and between 2-6 foreign player spots to deal with. Take into consideration that we have 2 homegrown players needing registration for the 13-14 season (Ramsey and Coquelin) and 3 for the 14-15 season (Wilshere, Jenkinson, and Frimpong).
1 homegrown player
Arsenal is hardly ever seriously linked to British talent (well >21 year old British talent) so it unlikely that we improve the squad this way, especially with 2 homegrown players needing a space next season. One spot I could see being used with a homegrown player is our back-up goalie. Maybe Craig Gordon or someone like that, though I would not hold my breath for that to happen.
If Djourou leaves (which I don't think is likely) we would have one more homegrown spot to fill. Since I could not find the actual text of the homegrown rule, it is possible that Lansbury needs to be registered (though there is also a chance we won't keep him) and if so, we would be out of homegrown spots.
2-6 Foreign Players
I think it is safe to assume that most Arsenal fans wouldn't mind all four fence-sitting squad players to leave the team and that is fine by me.
Even if all four stay (which is highly unlikely) we still have two spots to fill this season. So the good news is that we up to six slots to fill, which is room for a lot of talent.
What To Do
Personally I think our starting XI is pretty good. This is a starting XI that beat the EPL champs and both beat and drew the CL champs. Adding Wilshere back (slowly) will be a big boost, and our attacking core is already much improved. I think what we need most is depth, especially in defense.
I don't have suggestions so much for players to target but will suggest that considering our long term strategy of bringing along youth talent, continuing last year's "buy older" strategy might not be a horrible idea. Not that I object to buying targets such as M'Vila, Afellay, Sakho, or <insert name of other young upcomer> but we will need 5 registration spots for our young players by the 2014-15 season. Of course players will retire or leave between now and then, but if we keep infusing our roster with players before their prime, we may not have room for all of our promising young guns.
This leads me to suggest that we supplement our team with at least some players in their prime, and they do not have to be world-class either (because truly, how many world-class players are available at any time). The perfect example is Arteta. He is a very good player, maybe non-RVP Gunner of the year last season, but he is not world-class. He has never even sniffed his national team nor seriously competed in the CL (he probably made it with Rangers). Nonetheless, he was a stable player who was already fully developed at 29 and provided much of what we needed. He signed a 4 year deal (which I doubt Wenger does again for someone that age) but he will able to transition to a rotation player once our younger MFs supplant him (hopefully).
This is why I like the Podolski and Giroud signings. At 27 and 25, they are in their primes. Besides the period of transitioning to the EPL, these guys should be pretty much what they can be. I'm not saying they can't get better, but their growth potential is no longer that large. Also, after getting a couple good years out of players at this age makes it easier to see them go (think Petit and Overmars as examples).
Hopefully this kind of thinking is what it takes to keep RVP with our club, and if not, I hope we at least sell him outside of the EPL.