At 11am this morning UK time I believe Arsenal will be kicking off their pre season campaign with a game against Syndney FC and ahead of that match the club launched the new third kit, which will hardly be seen by anyone throughout the season, but more importantly it was sported by key players and one in particular that caught the eye.
I’m not talking about Lacazette, although that would have been a pleasing sight, but instead Mesut Özil. The reason It was an eye – or probably more accurately ear – catcher, was because Mesut spoke to an interviewer about his own situation and confirmed he wants to stay at the club.
Interestingly enough though, he was suitably vague enough not to specifically say he had signed a deal, nor that he was guaranteed to sign a new deal. So we could still have a contract rebel at the club in nine months time. In fact, I’d go as far as to suggest that’s exactly what his plan is if he doesn’t sign a new deal by the beginning of September. Because that will have given him enough time to get a deal done and by then you start to realise he wants to just run down his contract.
It’s exactly the same as Flamini the first time he was at the club. He’d established himself as a first team regular by the time his last year came around and he was saying all the right things. I’m pretty sure I remember him eeking out the ‘I want to stay, we’re working on a deal’ in January that year he left for AC Milan, and even by March there were lines fed by his agent that he could still sign for Arsenal.
I suspect if Mesut does run down his deal, he’ll have taken some coaching lessons from his mate, so if that’s the case we can expect him to talk up still staying until January, before he goes quiet and then relies on his agent to feed little pellets of hope to the assembled Arsenal fanbase, before the realisation kicks in during April and May that he’s offski.
Of course I’m talking worst case scenario and he could of course be telling everyone that he wants to stay because he, err, y’know, actually wants to sign a new deal. If that happens I’ll be delighted but until then I’ll remain slightly skeptical.
The other power play that took place yesterday was Ollie G dangling the carrot of uncertainty in front of would-be potential suitors by saying he’s not sure where he’ll be next season. He said he’s just focused on the tour and fitness with Arsenal and to be honest with you I’m a little less worried about this situation than some of the others we have this summer.
That’s because Arsenal are holding all the cards on that one. If by the last couple of weeks of August we haven’t wrapped up a deal for Alexis then other clubs will be testing the water with a bid and probably looking to do it at a reduced price. That will force us in to making difficult decisions and we all know that Arsenal aren’t the best when it comes to difficult decisions.
However with Giroud we have a player who has a longer contract, a manager who has said he wants him to stay and somebody who will certainly give him game time. Giroud has also said he wants to fight for his place and so perhaps the added competition can even elevate him to perform better than he ever has.
So if a bid comes in towards the end of the window Arsenal could just stick two fingers up to it, which is what I hope they do, because there is a time and a place for Giroud. It’s just not all the time as our main option.
So I hope he feels sufficiently comfortable enough to stick around and not kick up a bit of a stink with the manager about playing. I know it’s a World Cup year but to be frank, Arsenal are the ones shelling out megabucks for his services and Arsenal have more of an impact on most of his life than France do. The end. Full stop. Fin.
The next couple of weeks are crucial for any team in the league. We need to get our business internally and externally sorted and then get ready for that showpiece opener on 6th August against Chelski.