They’re in Australia, they’re posing for pictures and soon they’ll be running out on to the turf for the first game of the summer, which means that yep, pre season is well and truly underway.
Which means the new season is officially on countdown. Lacazette has been pictured training and Arsène has confirmed that he and Kolasinac will play a part on Thursday. So, let the over analysis and hype based on what will probably be 45 minutes of football, begin.
I remember when we signed Gervinho and he made his debut against Cologne, scoring two and having us all wonder if he would be the next star in the making. The hype was intense and social media streams were awash with excitement, but as we all found out, the man with the worlds largest forehead was somewhat of an unpredictable damp squib and he was promptly dispensed with after a couple of years at the club.
I’m trying to remember other friendly debuts but if I’m completely honest my mind is coming up blank. That’s because most are pretty insignificant and more often than not they don’t really give us an indication on the impact a player will have. What it does do is confirm a player really will be playing for Arsenal next season and that’s probably most of the excitement.
As many have already pointed out, this time of the year is about fitness and avoiding injury, but it’s also the first glimpses we’ll get on what our formation will be for the new season and as Arsène confirmed, we look like we’ll be starting with a back three. That’s a-ok with me and with that in mind it brings a little more comfort that we’ll be defensively sound than before the introduction of that formation last season. What I also hope it does is give the likes of Chambers and Holding belief that they’ll be given game time in this upcoming season. As I’ve said before three at the back means we’ll probably need six centre halves to deal with the rigours of a 55-game season and so I’d be surprised if Chambers is sold given that we have only one more season of Big Per and the need to have cover in defensive positions.
What will need to be worked out is the right wing back positions, because if Hector’s rumoured unrest bubbled over and the Ox really will not sign a new deal, then we’re already looking like we’re in a precarious position. The noises we’ve all heard are that he has a very noisy agent who by the sounds of it loves a press briefing, but we need to take heed of this behaviour because we don’t want to have a situation of both Ox and Alexis running down their contracts next season. I don’t want to be sounding a little clinical here but losing two assets like that next season and not having the cash to invest back in to the football team would be a nightmare. If Arsenal can’t get Alexis a new deal, ship him abroad, although I admit that the pool of available destinations appear to be shrinking every day. James Rodriguez joined Bayern on another one of those dodgy loan deals yesterday and you have to say that should pretty much rule out the German champions for our Chilean’s signature. So who else is there? PSG? Looks like they’re after Mbappe. Inter have been mentioned, but can they afford the megabucks? I’d be surprised. Perhaps if Madrid don’t get Mbappe they might look for another megastar, but personally I can’t see that, especially given there’s been practically no noises from a usually very noisy part of the world. Especially when you think that Marca is their mouthpiece.
So for Alexis, the pool looks to be shrinking, which means City seem the mostly likely destination. But that seems to be a freebie for next season, if our German captain is to be believed. The BFG attempted to offer some hope that Alexis will stay, but if you read his words carefully there isn’t really much talk about belief on signing a new deal, just a hope that he stays for next season because we need him for our attempt at challenging for the league.
I do admire Arsenal’s stance and if there was only City who were an option I’d hope they stick to it, but personally I think the club should be touting him all around Europe, because I want us to get a replacement in as quickly as possible if he doesn’t sign. I guess the only benefit to him staying and seeing out his contract – aside from the on pitch goals and assists – will be that it gives the club a whole season to find a suitable replacement. Maybe that will be a Thomas Lemar and certainly if Monaco lose any more of their players this summer you can see them wanting him to stay for another year. The only challenge Arsenal might have is similar to what’s happened with Lacazette; his price could have an extra £20million if he has another barnstorming season.
I guess we just have to wait and see how that pans out. Still, at least the footballs back, so we have something to distract us from the transfer gufuffle.
Catch you all tomorrow.