So after four appearances, 67 minutes of football, little impression made and probably a fair chunk of wages spent, Denis Suarez makes his way back to Barcelona after confirming an injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
It’s pretty terrible news at the end of a nine day period in which our season has turned and appears to be on the precipice of meltdown and whilst the team itself will feel little impact given how little Suarez played, for me this signifies a really worrying statement about our club.
His not the first and probably won’t be the last total waste of Arsenal football clubs time – as Kallstrøm and Park, as well as arguably Lucas Perez showed – but what for me the biggest worry about the whole Suarez saga was that it happened under the new regimes watch.
We lost Sven Mislintat in February and were told that Raul Sanllehi preferred a ‘contacts’ approach to signing players rather than the Mislintat ‘data driven’ approach. That approach had brought in Leno, Mavropanos, Torreira and whilst Sokratis, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang hardly needed any scouting, under Sven it looked like we were trying a model which suited our restricted budget approach.
We all know Raul doesn’t like January windows and so perhaps it is a little premature to be casting too many aspersions on his approach at this early stage. But this Suarez transfer feels like a warning shot fired across every Arsenal fans bow and of the noises of who we’re after in the summer are true, as well as the budget the club have to spend, then we have a very bleak summer ahead for the club.
If we don’t get Champions League football and the riches it brings, we could be staring down the face of an uncomfortable decline in the requisite quality we need to look up the league rather than down.
Denis Suarez represents the ‘little book of contacts’ approach, but it represents the approach where you skip the first few pages of first choice additions and turn to page 17, where you didn’t really write the names down properly because you didn’t think you’re going to have to go that far deep in to the book. I said in January and I’ll say it again: the ‘contacts’ approach doesn’t work when you’re a team like Arsenal who don’t have the funds to go out and spend big.
And so we wind up with decision making like Suarez who, let’s be honest, didn’t look amazing even when he played. Leicester City – a mid table team – went out and brought a very promising player in Tielemans who would have been well-known to Arsenal. Heck, half the footballing world knows about him, yet we decided to rely on Raul and his contacts, as well as Emery calling the shots on a player he wanted.
If this is a guidepost towards future acquisitions then we have a lot to be worried about boys and girls. When teams like Leicester can steal a march on players because we’re too focused on flicking through Sanhelli’s book of Spaniards, then it’s a real worry, because it points to a club with a real lack of direction and understanding where we are and where we’re going.
And this morning I can’t help but also think back to Wenger and Gazidis, mainly the latter, promising us an approach that would rival Bayern. Telling us that we were in a fantastic position and then effectively financially handcuffing us with two deals which now look like they could cause a slow decline at the club in Özil and Mkhitaryan. Both command north of £500k-a-weekend in wages and whilst one is quality who I love watching, the other has been a near total waste of time in Mkhitaryan.
And I’m at the point where as much as I love Özil at Arsenal, if he had to go to sort out the mess that Gazidis left us in – which no doubt contributed to Ramsey’s exit – then I guess we just have to suck it up. Gazidis and his wish for personal PR and to be able to drop Arsenal in it whilst at the same time showing his prospective new employers AC Milan that he could attract stars to the club and keep them, has effectively shafted us for what feels like a few years, in an act of negligence the likes of which should see him vilified by fans as much as Kroenke in my mind.
And to Kroenke, who probably should be looking at how the club can get going in the right direction, yet will be happier to see us decline as long as the riches of the Premier League remain. He is one of the things I find the most unsavoury about modern day Arsenal and if I could go back in a time machine and show the board what would happen with an owner like him in charge, it would make me a happy man.
We are rudderless. Less than a year after the hope was injected back in to the club that we could move on to pastures new, here we find ourselves with a management structure (not football, the operations I mean) that could see us fall in to ever further decline unless something drastic happens.
Perhaps I’m doom-mongering a little too soon, but this Suarez saga has merely lit a flame in my mind that had already been playing in the background.
We had just better pray that the players step up on Thursday.
Catch you all tomorrow.