Petr Cech has won the Czech Republic footballer of the year, as voted for by the people of his homeland and I’m sure there aren’t too many of us that would disagree, given the impact he’s had on the team this season. In a summer that was pretty pitiful when it comes to our transfer dealings, that one move early in the window has proved to be every bit the right decision by the club.
We bought quality, from inside the Premier League, and the impact has been instant. I know Arsène doesn’t like buying in England because of the over-inflated price (something that is ironic because if he’d had bought last summer everyone would have been cheaper than this summer coming up!), but his impact on the side, shows the difference a quality and experienced Premier League player can bring. I’d love to say that it could be a sign of things to come, but let’s all be honest here, it’s not likely to happen this summer. Even if we will need a bucket load of players that need to be replaced.
Arteta, Rosicky, Flamini are all out of contract; Gibbs and Ssczesny are of an age where they want to play all the time and so may itch for a move; Walcott & Debuchy just haven’t been the players we’d all hope for and question marks will be raised over The Ox and Campbell. That’s a pretty extensive list and whilst some might argue that Arteta has already been replaced by Elneny in a fast tracked move originally planned for the summer, the rest will all need homes and we’ll need some names coming in.
Or we’ll need to promote more players internally, like Iwobi, The Jeff, or perhaps even Bielik. He was brought in to the club as a young defensive midfielder but has been playing at centre half. Is he the Flamini replacement? Is The Jeff a Rosicky substitute? Is Iwobi already replacing Walcott? What about if Campbell leaves? Does Serge Gnabry finally get a shot at breaking in to the team?
One things for sure, the failure to augment the squad last summer with more first team squad outfield players will mean that the manager – and he will continue to be our manager no matter how much anyone dislikes the fact, so we all have to deal with it, accept and support the team – will need to work harder than he’s ever done before. That’s why I never understood the notion that there were no players out there or available. Surely Arsène knows the quick nature of footballing life and therefore knows that modern day squads are a revolving door; they need to be constantly rotated with players coming in and leaving the club on an annual basis. He’s been doing that for years and even if it’s only been two or three players, he’s still kept adding to the squad.
So, given that we have a supposed £200million ‘war chest’ – and the very idea of calling the cash reserves of the club that makes me shudder – how far is that going to stretch to bring the squad up to a standard in which it can compete with the oil whores?
As an aside, I don’t think we’ll see Leicester and the Spuds duking it out for the title next season, as I think Chelski and City will once again strengthen and be the top two to beat. Both Leicester and the Spuds have been blessed with relatively few injuries all season. That won’t happen with increased games and more expectation I don’t think.
Let’s just hypothesise for a moment. We need – if my above estimations are correct – nine players to potentially be replaced in the summer. If we promote Iwobi as a regular, Jeff, Bielik and Gnabry too, that still means we need four players, if you see Elneny as the Arteta replacement. We all know that when it comes to transfers, Arsenal deal in ‘wholes’, i.e. The transfer fee, signing on fee and wages over a four or five year period. If you’re assuming we’re going to use all of our resources available (I know, ‘ha!’, right?) then you’re probably talking £50million per player, which would include wages of probably around £5million a year. That’s £20milliok over the life of a four year deal which means we’re looking at £30million footballers.
Hey, four players at that cash would be great, no? Certainly on face value it would have a fan like myself hoping that we can have a very competitive team with that kind of calibre of player. Except what calibre of player will £30million buy you these days? If we went to Leicester in the summer and offered £30million for Mahrez, would that do it? Is he good enough? He looks like it at the moment, but with a season and a half under his belt of real top-notch form (he wasn’t ripping up trees whilst Leicester were rock bottom last season), does he represent a bit of a game?
Maybe. And we all know Arsène doesn’t like a big gamble on what he perceives as an overinflated price. So whilst Mahrez sounds like an impressive option right now and I’d love to see us go in for him, I just can’t see it.
And herein lies the problem I think we’re going to face. Perceived value. There will be none on players who have only been a one-season hit in the managers eyes. He just won’t do it. He’s been proved right on many occasions we have to say, to be fair to him, but I am just not sure he would go out and blitz £30million on four players that he thinks are just in a purple patch.
So what are we looking for? The right type of situation I think. Santi Cazorla and Nacho were signed because of Malaga’s trouble. Özil was as a result of the Bale deal. Alexis had to make way for Suarez. All players with whom we have been able to get because the situation dictated it. My fear is that is what Arsène was waiting on with Benzema last season and that is what might happen again this summer. Let’s just hope I’m wrong.
The good thing is that we at least have the cash to make the requisite volume of signings needed. Whether or not we actually use that mountain of moolah remains to be seen.
Sorry – I normally hate talking about the poxy transfer window – but in the absence of any other real Arsenal news, and in the midst of another horrendous interlull, it was all that was on my mind this morning.
Catch you tomorrow.