Marouane Chamakh is "counting the days" until he finally becomes an Arsenal player – and intends to prove he was worth the wait. The Morocco international has been a long-term target for the Gunners, having almost moved to the Emirates Stadium last summer.
However, Chamakh is now set to arrive on a free transfer, worth a reported £50,000-a-week, once his contract with Bordeaux expires.
The 26-year-old, who has scored 15 goals for the French club this season, will give the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, some much-needed back-up in attack, an area of the pitch which was stretched by Robin van Persie's five-month injury absence this term.
"I count the days, 11 short days. As time passes, it feels weird. I feel many emotions," Chamakh told French newspaper L'Equipe. "I am delighted to join the English football atmosphere, it is something amazing. I love Arsenal's game. I know I will have to adapt but I know the short passing game.
"In February, I made my decision. A departure clause [in a potential new Bordeaux contract] was not logical after refusing Arsenal last summer."
Chamakh has been with Bordeaux for a decade and helped them reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League this season.
"For my last matches with Bordeaux I can feel a lot of emotion, but I am leaving for a new challenge," he added. "At Bordeaux I was the club's child. In London, I won't be a kid anymore. I have grown, I have things to prove and I am motivated to achieve it."
The forward maintained he had rejected several other offers, including from Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham, to sign for the Gunners.
"There were approaches from Liverpool, Tottenham and insane offers from Russia, which were much greater than those from England, but I was focused on the Premier League," said Chamakh. "I took a risk to stay with one year left on my contract, but I never cheated, I gave myself thoroughly."
Arsenal lie third in the Premier League table, which guarantees automatic entry in the group stages of next season's Champions League if they finish there on Sunday. Nevertheless, the Arsenal manager knows he faces a challenge to strengthen the squad in key areas over the summer.
Chamakh's arrival will take care of the attack, and may even lead to the departure of Eduardo, while the Nice striker Loïc Rémy has made no secret of his desire to join the Gunners.
The goalkeeping position has come under scrutiny in recent weeks with Lukasz Fabianski, given a run in the side following Manuel Almunia's wrist problem, a target for Blackburn.
The Manchester City keeper Joe Hart, who was a boyhood Gunners fan, could interest Wenger if he departs Eastlands in the summer, while the Italian veteran Gianlugi Buffon has indicated he would be open to a switch to England were the chance to arise.
In defence, meanwhile, Wenger has yet to resolve contract issues with William Gallas, Mikaël Silvestre and Sol Campbell. The Gunners manager accepts his squad does need one or two additions to help them stay the distance in the quest for a first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup final.
Wenger, though, maintains pulling off another transfer coup like last summer's purchase of the Belgian centre-half Thomas Vermaelen will be no easy task. "It is not any more as it was 15 or 20 years ago – everybody knows everybody now," the Arsenal boss reflected. "It is more about shrewd buying now, [about] taking a gamble."
Wenger, meanwhile, could be ready to recommit himself to Arsenal. The 60-year-old's current deal is set to expire at the end of the 2010-2011 campaign, and, according to reports, he may agree terms on a two-year extension ahead of the World Cup.Reuse content