The tedium of the Alexis saga appears to be moving into its final phases and having been entwined emotionally to it for the best part of 12 months, Arsenal fans will soon get the relief of it finally being over and by god, I’ll be glad when it does happen.
I won’t be glad when I see him in the shirt of another team, but right now his exit will be a relief and thereafter we can look more deeply at what a fundamental cock up has happened in letting it get to this stage, with the club not learning a lesson that they’ve been taught at least three times but probably more in the last six or seven years.
Arsène said on Sunday post-Bournemouth – that Alexis’ future would be sorted one way or another in the next 48 hours – and come four o’clock today that will be the 48 hour mark. So hopefully we get some closure. And what seems to have unfolded in the last 24 hours is that Arsenal have found themselves with surprise suitors and the disappearance of the main love interest for Alexis.
City have spent all last summer courting Alexis and he’s clearly been behind-close-doors fluttering his eyelids at Pep and telling him that’s where he wants to be: in his team reunited like the old Barcelona days.
But with City pulling out yesterday – supposedly – I am reminded that football isn’t as romantic as some would have you believe. In fact, it’s very much green: the colour of money.
Firstly, to the laughable situation where Man City have said they won’t pay agent fees, won’t go above £20million and won’t give Alexis more than £250k-Per-week, as if they have suddenly decided to take some kind of moral stance. Do me a favour. City and Chelski are a reason why teams, agents, players and the like have seen a spike in football inflation, so for them to take this stance when a bidding war opens up would actually be rather amusing, if it wasn’t the carcass of Arsenal that the vultures are picking at.
But it is and with United, then supposedly Chelski entering the fray, the Arsenal hierarchy seem to have suddenly found themselves in a position where they have some kind of minor bargaining power. Which is equally ludicrous given how they’ve fudged just above everything to do with the Alexis situation for over a year now – from the late negotiations of his contract, then the denial of selling him, then the last-gasp change of heart, then the last few days – it’s all been a complete mess.
But here we are and if the rumours that are purported come true, Arsenal could find themselves saving face with:
- A fee from Alexis
- An experienced player as a replacement in Mkhitaryan
- A fee from Theo’s departure
- A natural finisher in Aubameyang
- A very impressive-looking talent in Malcolm from Bordeaux
I still remain sceptical on Aubameyang because it doesn’t feel like an Arsène Wenger-sanctioned deal. It feels like a player for the news headlines rather than the reality of the Arsenal team. But I’ve long been an admirer so of course I’m hoping this one comes off. Not least because at a time in which we appear to be in free fall, this will give the fans a much needed lift that Arsenal aren’t deliberately trying to gut the soul out of the club, as well as hope that there is life after Alexis.
But we do need to appreciate that what we’re getting could not be the perfect player that we all hope for. After all, there’s a reason Dortmund are willing to let go and other teams are not after him. There must also be a reason why he’d want to join a declining Arsenal team. Is it his only option? Are we replacing one troublesome player in Alexis with another one in Aubameyang?
Perhaps however, the signing of Mkhitaryan will also bring aid to what looks like a flagging attack. Both players played together at Dortmund and Mkhitaryan was a star player in that team. Pairing them together with Lacazette – I still haven’t worked out where he fits in this equation by the way – as well as Özil and at least on paper right now, you have a very good attacking force.
What it won’t do however is solve the defensive problems. These potential arrivals feel more like the old 90s Newcastle approach of outscoring opponent’s rather than that of a side being built for balance and development into a Premier League contender. It’s a side to fight fires more than anything else.
But at least we’ll have more hope of a good attack because right now we look as blunt as an old knife. Iwobi and Welbeck have been average at best, Theo can’t get near the team, Lacazette is low on confidence and the only player who has upped his form is a Mesut Özil who looks like he’s playing for a new contract elsewhere. It’s hardly been great watching us go forward, has it?
So where are we right now? In full ‘hope’ mode, because that’s all we’ve got left, with Alexis out the door to snaffle up as much cash as he can. We are waiting, hoping, that this isn’t all a smokescreen for Arsenal banking a shed load of cash and bringing in players who once again send us backwards. I’ve never seen Arsène wield the chequebook to the extent that is being rumoured this January but perhaps this is his last throw of the dice. He needs to do something and this is his last stab at trying to salvage a season.
Let’s see how this all plays out.
Catch you all tomorrow.