With all the talk of new signings and the like so far this summer, I seem to have completely forgotten about some of the existing players whose future is in the air for the opposite reasons, i.e. they’ll most likely be shipped out of the club.
So with Lukas Podolski admitting that his Italian adventure hadn’t really gone as planned and that he intends to return to The Arsenal again this summer, it feels like I’ve regained a bit of focus about the pressing need Arsene has to balance his squad. As is fairly obvious enough to everyone the world over, life is not linear and unlike a computer game in which you can offload players at a whim when you’re looking to reshape your squad, the reality is often very different.
I feel a bit for Podolski. I don’t actually think he’s had such a bad career at Arsenal to date. He arrived for a relatively decent price with a good reputation, quickly established himself as an ‘end product only’ player and has scored some important and great goals. But he fell victim to our circumstances. Arsenal have been a steadily improving – squad wise I mean – club since his arrival and our financial fire power have seen us look to replace players in the same position each year. Podolski was a decent option for us. Alright, his overall game was limited and many people started to see what he was about after about a year and a half, but when you compare him to previous players like Arshavin or Bendtner, who have both operated in that wide left position, he wasn’t a player that we were all scratching our heads about when he was in the starting line up.
We simply upgraded, that’s all, and unfortunately for Poldi we upgraded from the equivalent of an iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 6 in the shape of Alexis. Suddenly everything worked better, was faster and the result was a heck of a lot of goals and a player who has shown us that you can be skilful, score lots of goals and still contribute to a high press and tracking back if you have the application.
It’s the same in the goalkeeping stakes. I don’t think Ospina has really done that bad this season and, if I’m honest, if Cech wasn’t about to essentially land on Wenger’s lap (because he wants to leave Chelski and stay in London and even the Spuds – for now – have a ‘keeper so they aren’t looking) I don’t think he’d be looking too much in that position. Arsene has said on multiple occasions that he would only buy when he finds that type of exceptional world class player, and whilst there was a time where you and I would look up to the heavens and roll our eyes as Arsene bought in the Chamakh’s of this world, where we are at the moment is that you can see why and when he’s upgrading players. When we bring in an Alexis to replace Poldi, that’s a world class upgrade. If Cech comes in for Ospina, that’s a world class upgrade. It’s football Darwinism, man.
Perhaps that is what is about to happen to Sanogo too. He’s apparently wanted on loan by Lille and if Arsene does go out and buy another striker – I’m not sure he will because we’ve got Alexis, Giroud, Welbeck and Walcott who could all profess to be very good players in that position – then you really can’t see any future for Sanogo. He joined the club at a time in which it seemed a relatively low-risk (in terms of cost of signing and reputation of the player) and we were counting our pennies more than we have. He was a bit of a gamble and another loan spell next season surely means his days as a potential first-teamer are numbered. Wenger like’s a project and for a while it seemed like he might be given more time, again we’ve simply upgraded our team and he has become one of the natural victims of our increased quality.
That’s what you have to do if you want a squad capable of winning the league. You have to be ruthless and there might be players that us fans see as decent enough to play for the club, but when a better one comes along, you need to trade in your own phone for an improved design with better modifications. That’s what Moneychester City and Chelski do. They have good players and they get better players in to move those good players further down the pecking order. Schurrle, for example, was a very good player, but he wasn’t the elite player that Mourinho was after. Dzeko is widely recognised as a great forward, but when you’ve got Sergio Aguero in your team then you have one of the world’s best.
So when the time comes for Ospina, Podolski and Sanogo to move on, other than back in the ‘deadwood’ days where we’d be glad to be shot of players like Denilson, I will hope they do well at other clubs and thank them for their relatively short times at the club.