We’ve all been watching this game enough by now. We’ve all seen this before a few times and therefore we all know at what stage we’re at in the process.
The manager’s have done their little bit of talking. The club’s have done their bit of talking. No fees have been agreed yet, so we move to the next phase, in which agents start doing the talking.
Last weekend it was the ‘hints through Instagram’ approach from Malcolm’s people and yesterday was Mino Raiola – Mkhitaryan’s agent – who has chipped in with his “yeah? Yeah? Well, Mkhi is the most important part of any deal anyway, so there” also confirming that his client isn’t in any kind of rush to make a decision. Strap yourselves in kids because, despite Arsène Wenger making noises about the Alexis situation being sorted 48 hours from Sunday afternoon, here we are at the halfway point in the working week and no such sounds of a ‘done deal’ being reported.
And why should it? This is Arsenal after all. We don’t really tend to ‘do’ quick transfers and ones that appear to involve players in exchange aren’t really those types of transfers that are easy to complete.
My only hope is that this doesn’t end up the way the last exchange we did happened, where we got a silly central defender who wanted to wear the number 10 shirt, in exchange for giving Mourinho the best left back of a generation.
Of course then there’s the supposed additional ‘fee’ for Alexis, which Raiola has said doesn’t exist and that it would be a straight swap, so suddenly doesn’t look as good a deal for Arsenal.
And this is where I find us fans as, well, odd. Because whether there is or isn’t a transfer fee shouldn’t really have any bearing on us whatsoever. We don’t all collectively get some money back. There is no cash knocked off my season ticket. So why do I find myself suddenly bothered about whether or not Arsenal get a fee when they also get a player we all wanted a year or so ago?
Perhaps it’s because of the tribalism of football. Arsenal are our ‘tribe’ and we want the best for them. We also – as a collectively – want to win and often transfers of this kind between clubs are seen as a mini battle between tribes (certainly in the playground/workplace and social media) as to who gets the best deal out of the situation.
If it’s a straight swap then clearly United because despite the contract situation of Alexis they will get an upgrade on Mkhitaryan whilst we get a downgrade on Alexis.
If it’s a player-plus-cash deal then somehow Arsenal fans can claim victory out of a shoddy situation. Perhaps also it’s due to the fact that the Arsenal coffers are further boosted to strengthen the team? But actually we have shown that we’re reluctant to spend the very big numbers anyway – and £35million is sadly not a big number in this market (yes I know we got Lacazette for £50m but that felt like an anomaly to me) – so I don’t know that it matters if we get some cash plus Mkhitaryan.
However this situation plays out Arsenal are losers because we completely fudged the Alexis situation to the point in which United are getting a world class player who makes a difference in the team, despite how disruptive he appears to be, which is why none of us can revert to our tribal instincts and ignore the fact that the club have messed up another situation.
And what is making this all the more unpalatable is that I can see this being dragged out for another week or two. All the while we’re self-harming by not playing Alexis and not having his replacement in to help support the team. It’s the most Arsenal of circumstances and it’s all a little depressing if I’m honest.
But hey, maybe we can console ourselves in the news that Jack Wilshere might be signing a new contract. The noises are that he’s certainly been offered a deal to keep him at the club, albeit on reduced weekly wages and with bonuses and add ons for playing time and staying fit. I get that and I just hope Jack appreciates that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he has a sniff around somewhere else to see what’s out there. Wages may be high for these players but they still want to have a sense of worth and when your team offers you reduced wages then it probably does get you wondering how much they value you. If I was in Jack’s shoes though I’d probably be telling the club that I’d accept a new deal on the basis that a full season of proving my fitness with a minimum number of games – day, 25 or so – triggers an increase in pay.
I just hope the club aren’t gambling too hard on his loyalty.
Righto, off to work I go, with very little ‘hi’ or ‘ho’ I’m afraid. It’s too early and I’m a Londoner. We don’t make noises at this time of day. Unless it’s to tut at somebody.