Can I tell you what I don’t like? I don’t like it when players who seemed to have turned a corner at the club are suddenly linked strongly with moves away. I am, of course, talking about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has now been linked with three of the top four Premier League clubs this season. And I must say I don’t like it. Not one bit.
When we changed his position in the team to right wing-back and he flourished, many were pleased that he finally seemed to have found a ‘home’ in the starting XI. His style of play seems suited to that kind of position; he is a direct runner, can beat a man and has shown an ability to also track back and put a half decent cross in during the latter part of the season, two elements which have previously been missing from his game.
So now that he’s started to show his form, there doesn’t seem any kind of move to tie him down to a long contract? Why? A couple of weeks back it seemed as though he was happy to sign up for an extension, but the news has started to filter through that he’s growing frustrated with Arsenal, as well as whispers that he wants to play centrally. So what are the club doing about this? Are they talking to his representatives to get the deal done? I hope so, because we had ample time to sign him up over the last six months and there seemed a reluctance on the club’s part to enter in to negotiations, with no deal on the table. So I’m not surprised he has got a little frustrated.
All of this is of course playing out via the media, which means that we’re only getting about a tenth of the story, because for all he knows he’s been tapped up by Klopp to play in the centre of Liverpool’s midfield and The Ox fancies a bit of that. Liverpool do, after all, have form this summer of doing that so it wouldn’t surprise me if there had been some shenanigans from the scousers in that regard.
But aside from any tomfoolery, Arsenal could – and should – have had this wrapped up by now. This deal doesn’t feel like it should be as protracted as other issues that need sorting this summer and if we’re fannying about with somebody like The Ox, it doesn’t fill you with much hope for the rest of the summer, does it?
The noises about him wanting to play centrally might be true, but I don’t think it would be a deal-breaker for him if the deal at the club is good enough and he knew he’d be getting more game time. It feels very similar to when Theo signed his last deal. He was on form, started to make noises about playing up front, had a few goes at it but still signed a deal anyway, because the money was right. That’s why I think if we give The Ox enough of an incentive, we can keep him, but the club need to not mess around with this.
At 23 he’s still a young player with a lot of growing to do and if he remains fit then you can seem him becoming a big player for us. So to lose him this summer, whilst we also have other issues still to be resolved, well that would just be another example of mismanagement by the club.
Get it done guys. Quickly. So we can focus on improving the squad. Like other teams are.
Other teams like City, for example, who are now having chats with Aubameyang’s people. He’s a fantastic player. A natural born finished who has previously expressed a liking for Arsenal and what do we have? The lure of Pep and the cash of City meaning that we’re probably not even going to have a sniff at him. But why not? Why shouldn’t we have a go? Let’s face it, the Mbappe deal was never going to happen, so why not have a nibble at something else? We can afford the fee, wages and whilst Champions League football isn’t on the table this year, as a player you can hedge your bets that Arsenal will be close to it next season having had 20 years in it, so I don’t think we’re that toxic an option to not have players like Auba interested. But we should just test the resolve. Give Dortmund something to think about and show Arsenal fans that we have some big names on our wish list. It doesn’t just start and stop with a name like Mbappe.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the big fear I have at the moment, that we’re going to spend the whole summer chasing the impossible dream of Kylian, then not bother with any other option. You know like how we spent all summer after Suarez, ignoring Higuain, only for us to end up with neither? Yeah, that. I hope that Arsène and Ivan aren’t being given the runaround by a player and agent just because they want to eek out a bit more cash from Madrid.
And then we find ourselves in August with nobody from a short list and the discontent about how the club handles player acquisition grows once again.
I know it’s still June, that the window hasn’t officially opened, that the whole month of July is still ahead of us, but with the way Arsenal are it feels like we’re concertinaing a lot of work in to a small period of time. New contracts, deals out the door, new signings, back room changes (ha!), etc, etc. With the way we’ve handled previous summers it feels like we’re leaving ourselves with very little time to do a lot of things.
It’s still not “lose your sh*t” time and won’t be for a while. But the clock is ticking. I hope Arsenal are paying attention.