Morning all, hope you’re having a good one, still without football yet still living and loving life?
My weekend is going to be spent doing a few basic chores, but then I’ve got to do my first ‘proper’ run in a while, which will consist of a 10 mile run around Uxbridge as I prepare for the Amsterdam Marathon. Quick non-related Arsenal plug – i’m doing it for the Brain Tumour Charity so if anybody fancies sponsoring me I’d be most grateful. Link is here. As you can see I haven’t exactly started trying to collect!
But anyway…tenuous segue coming up…as I go for my runs during the day I often listen to some podcasts and I can’t remember which one I was listening to recently, but the discussion turned to existing players and the fact that we’re all getting excited about new signings coming in. Arsenal yesterday released the latest information about players departing the club this summer.It wasn’t really any surprises though as Big Per retires and Santi looks to recapture his form back in Spain with Villarreal, but what has struck me recently is just how many more players will probably need to go this summer in order for us to have a functioning squad and not too much of the ol’ dreaded “deadwood”.
Right now we’re talking about Sokratis, Leno, Torreira from Sampdoria and there is also talk of a wide forward too. We’ve been linked with tonnes of players but for now I’m just talking about players who feel realistic and not just media speculating so they can say they broke the first ‘exclusive’ before anybody else knew.
Assuming we’re taking Big Per, Santi and probably Jack out of the equation as he’s now out of contract and probably won’t sign a new deal, it looks like we have a squad of 21 players who make up the first team. This is the recognised first team and doesn’t include the likes of Willock or other players from the youth set up. Just Ainsley Maitland-Niles is in there.
Now, Ivan said that the new man coming in will have to work with existing players, as well as bring young players through, so you’d expect there to be a promotion or two and perhaps that is Willock and Nelson, for example. If that is the case we’re talking 23 players. Let’s now assume that Leno’s potential arrival from Leverkusen spells the end for Ospina. It’s a like-for-like swap and so that nets out that potential incoming. Now let’s assume that We’re bringing in Sokratis because we need somebody of that age profile, because Koscielny is injured for minimum half of the season and because quite frankly, some fresh blood wouldn’t go-a-miss right now. We’re up to 24 and here is where is starts to get congested. Because unless Emery is player four centre halves somehow this season, we are going to have to ship somebody out. As it stands we have Mustafi, Mavropanos, Chambers, Holding and if Sokratis comes in that makes five centre halves. If we swap to three at the back and Nacho is not seen as a centre half, we might be ok, but as we saw last season with Per barely featuring as soon as we change any kind of structure to a four then there are players left kicking their heels.
I’m just not sure Emery will want that many centre halves in his team and so I have a feeling that somebody is facing the chop. If I had to guess it would be one of Holding or Chambers and if Emery/Arsenal need to raise funds to pay for players in other positions then centre half will surely be a position that they could cash in.
Potentially they could look at Mustafi but with him being a more senior centre back and the narrative from Sven et al being that we need to look for more experience defensively, that doesn’t sound to me like they’d hook Mustafi and but their faith in three players who are in their early twenties (Mav, Chambers and Holding). My gut feel – and I have no intel other than that I’m afraid) is that we’ll see Chambers depart if Arsenal need to raise some funds. He’d probably command a higher fee, it frees up more space for Holding and Mav to try to break through, plus that money can be used to reinvest. If we’re not looking to get some cash in I could see a loan move for Holding happening.
So, back to my hypothesising on the whole team, to which we have Lichsteiner already in, as well as Sokratis, but we’re also potentially bringing in Torreira. I’ve done my YouTubing so I’m clearly now an expert on the player, but he looks good, and exciting. Good with the ball at his feet, can weave out of positions like Santi, yet isn’t afraid of a tackle. A €25million fee isn’t out of Arsenal’s price range too. But here’s the thing; that takes us to 25 players and in our midfield we already have Xhaka, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, plus talk i’ve seen of Iwobi potentially being moved more centrally. I haven’t even mentioned Elneny and with Torreira in the team (if that happened) we’d be talking about six players for most likely two positions depending on the formation.
So much like the central defensive position I think somebody will be binned by Arsenal this summer. Again, based purely on my own guesswork, I think a lot of who gets binned depends on Ramsey’s contract. If the Welshman doesn’t sign then he’ll be the one to go but even then we’d have five players for two positions. You could argue that Iwobi and Maitland-Niles could play as utility players either in defensive positions for Maitland-Niles case, or in more offensive positions for Iwobi, but that midfield still feels congested. If Ramsey signs a new deal, then somebody else is surely getting canned. Who that would be I don’t know. The most logical choice suggests Elneny. He’ll be at the World Cup, has just signed a new deal and so therefore could fetch a decent price, assuming Arsenal are finally going to be a bit more astute with their sales of players. His exit would free up Torreira and from what I’ve seen of him it looks like he could be a good partner to either Xhaka, Ramsey, or maybe even Maitland-Niles. Of course all of this is based on a little footage and no evidence of seeing him in the pace of the Premier league but, if the noises are true about the player, then we need to assume that Arsenal are gearing for an exit.
I haven’t even talked about a supposed mystery wide forward either, although I don’t think that will happen. I just can’t see how. We’ve got so many players already that unless welbeck is treated like Ramsey with his contract situation and shipped out post World Cup, I think we’ll not see any more incomings. We physically couldn’t anyway because of the squad rule (although I haven’t bothered to look it up and Maitland-Niles may not count in the 25 because of his age and the fact he’s home-grown).
It’s an interesting juggling act that has to happen and I wonder just how much shuffling in the playing staff will happen this summer.