Here endeth ‘The Age of Theo’ and with it, one of the last surviving players to go into the social media proclaimed ‘Banter Era’ and come out the other side into ‘The Declining Era’, where we now find ourselves.
His move to Everton was ratified and made official yesterday with the usual horrific ‘new signing video’ that has become a thing in the last 18 months and the player himself posed in an Everton journey.
His parting words to Arsenal? All very positive and had many fans praising him for his service, his goals, his professionalism and above all his lack of stink kicked up at any stage this season.
It has been a carefully managed PR success and few people from an Arsenal side will have bad things to say about the man they call ‘TJ’.
His exit comes as no surprise and I’m sure I am like many Arsenal fans out there hoping that he succeeds at Everton this season and in future. They play Arsenal at The Emirates in the not-too-distant future so I’m sure we’ll get a returning player that once again scores against us. It seems almost destined to happen.
But for now the internet is awash with Walcottian memories like that fall-over-get-back-up-and-score against Chelski in the 5-3 victory, or a similar fall-over-and-get-up against Newcastle at home a few seasons back. We’ll always have that “two-nil” finger salute to raging away travelling spurs fans in the FA Cup and his jinking run from one end to the pitch to the other at Anfield to put us up in the Champions League must be remembered of the talent that he provided in small bursts in an Arsenal shirt.
But after 12 years at the club it’s hard not to feel like there’s a football career unfulfilled at the very top. Perhaps it was expectation from such an early age, perhaps it was injuries that stunted him at times, or perhaps it’s just that he wasn’t as good as everyone expected, but Theo’s career felt like it should have gone on a more upwards trajectory to me from the age of about 18 onwards. Sadly it didn’t and here we are having lost a 28-year-old who should be reaching a Henryesque peak, yet we’re all pleased to see the club and the player have acted and we’ve made a bit of cash from the deal too.
Which brings us to the current state of affairs, in which Arsenal are accumulating more cash and so far, are yet to recoup much by the way of player acquisition. The Aubameyang transfer feels like it’s starting to slowly drift away with talk of €70million price tags for a player with whom a physical peak of 18 months is probably the best we could hope for. Whether or not that is an increase from the originally estimated €60million odd I don’t know, but perhaps that was always Dortmund’s valuation and perhaps it is what we should expect in the January market. Dortmund know we have cash, they know we need acquisitions, they know that they have all of the bargaining power. So unlike Arsenal they are doing what they need to do to get the biggest possible cash return. We just offload players like Coquelin at half price because we’re ‘nice guys’. The same with Theo if you think about it. He had time on his contract left and a good CV, as well as no public angling for a move and the fact he was English, yet we did the deal for the players welfare and not the club’s, because Theo wanted game time and we didn’t want to scare Everton off.
The worry with the Auba deal is that Dortmund start goalpost-shifting like Madrid did with Higuain all those years ago. That made Arsenal run a mile and you just wonder if this is going to be the same situation.
On the one hand you can admire Arsenal’s stance if that does happen, but on the other you have to look at the pretty shoddy talent acquisition plans we have in place in general, which is why us fans are always so annoyed when moves break down. We’ve seen it too often and the stories we normally hear are those like the Xabi Alonso “we don’t want to pay £500k more than our valuation, Liverpool” approach.
It just seems like Arsenal are a team more than most who get their noses bloodied.
So as the next 24 to 48 hours unfold I suspect we might well see this slowly disappear out of our grasp unless something substantial happens. The rumours are that Giroud could be used as a makeweight and if that does happen, I hope Arsenal are playing the right game, because you could easily argue that Giroud is a £30 – £35million footballer so adding that in to the equation could be an option. Personally I wouldn’t countenance it though. Giroud is a different type of striker and one that we know will get a certain amount of goals for the club. We don’t know – although can have a decent enough expectation that he will – if Aubameyang will improve on his goal tally.
There’s still nothing on the Alexis stuff and I think that’ll go well into next week as Mkhitaryan deliberates on whether he wants to be part of Arsenal or if he’d rather sit on the bench at United. The emergence of the fact it’s a ‘player swap’ deal rather than ‘player-plus-cash’ feels like we’re not quite getting as good a deal as many of us had first thought, but with the noises from Bordeaux coming that Arsenal will find it difficult to get Malcolm, it’s all starting to feel very…well…Arsenal at the moment, isn’t it?
So here we are. Another player gone, a star player waiting desperately to get out, whilst rumours and counter-rumours fuel our own panic and sense of impending doom.
Life as an Arsenal fan, eh?