If ever there was an unspoken admission that certain players are leaving Arsenal this season, the squad announcement yesterday for the upcoming Australia tour was it, that’s for sure.
There were plenty of notable absentees when the news went on the Arsenal website about who was travelling, but where as some could be explained away as international or rehabilitation related, others were a clear ‘for sale’ sign above some players’ heads.
Those like Alexis and Chambers may be able to be explained away because they were away with their national teams. I don’t think anybody would have thought anything else. And Santi and Jack are coming back from injury, so it was always unlikely that they would be on the plane just as a spectator.
But Szczesny, Jenkinson, Debuchy, Perez and Gibbs are senior pros. Normally they’d expect to be given some game time on tour and the fact they’ve not travelled but people like Maitland-Niles, Cohen Bramall and Reiss Nelson have, it suggests moves are already being made to get them off the wage bill.
Whether or not this strengthen’s buying club’s hands or not I don’t know. If a player is valued at £10million but you know that he’s not wanted and the selling club are eager to get them off the books, you don’t want to pay £10million. You have a proper go at getting him for £8million and try to play hard ball with the selling club.
Having said all this though, this approach of stockpiling players and then offloading when the squad is heavy is much more preferable to the other alternative that we’ve had in the past, which has been going in to seasons looking very like, then hoping to avoid an injury crisis. So I think this approach – whilst probably not the best for getting the highest fee for a player – is the best for putting people like you and I at ease that we shouldn’t go in to the new season looking like putting square pegs in round holes.
Now that the sale signs are up and players are clearly up for grabs, I do wonder if we’ll start to see a little bit of movement over the next week or two. Arsenal will probably be looking to get those players out the door quickly so I suspect we’ll be hearing some noises pretty soon.
The goalkeeping situation is starting to become intriguing though, because Ospina has made it pretty clear he wants first team football and the noises have been that Emi Martinez would be promoted, but given Ospina is on the plane to Oz and Szczesny isn’t, you’d think that it’s not as cut and dry as it appeared to be about a month or so ago. I suspect the club will move him on, but it’s not guaranteed and if they’re going to keep him then that’s fine by me, because I think he’s a pretty decent number two.
Anyway, there’ll be a bit of quiet for 24 hours I suspect, so we’ll have no major news on anything until the middle of the week after the players have arrived and settled in. Then we’ll see some shots of them doing various touristy things before a bit of football towards the end of the week.
The countdown to the new season is well and truly on.