Well it finally happened yesterday and despite the fact I’d been lamenting all transfers, how they weren’t a surprise and how numb I feel like I’d got in the whole process, I still gorged myself on the glorious glorious content that the club put out throughout the day.
I can’t help myself.
I must also say ‘kudos’ to the way Arsenal released it. A classic ‘dangle on a string’ approach which even had a little bit of self-deprecating humour chucked in just before the announcement on Twitter with a video of Gunnersaurus missing a halftime penalty in there too. Fair play Arsenal social media team, fair play…
What I also loved was the behind the scenes stuff; all except the whole ‘injections for a blood sample’ thing – is rather that part of these videos was chucked straight in the bin I have to tell you.
But anyway, juicy ‘content’ aside, what has every Arsenal fan buzzing right now is the statement of intent that this signing represents. All summer and at the end of last season we were prepping ourselves for a difficult one because we didn’t get Champions League, as well as the money and status it represents. I remember talking to Giles on our radio show about Pepe in March and us both almost laughing it off that we could ‘get him’. He was one of the hottest prospects in Europe at the time and I’m pretty sure I said something to Giles like “every goal he gets takes us further away from him. He’ll be at a Madrid or a PSG and Lille will want £70-£80million, which we aren’t getting close to”.
Colour me ‘wrong’ folks, colour me ‘wrong’.
Well, half wrong, because as we all know Arsenal don’t have that cash. The way this deal has been able to be executed is that Arsenal have agreed to pay in instalments and as a result we don’t have to haggle too much because it works for us and works for Lille. I think I read somewhere that they make around £50million a season in terms of revenues. So Arsenal coming to them and offering them £20million now and something around/just under £15million a season for four years thereafter means they have a regular income that bolsters their finances for the foreseeable future. It works for all parties and although Lille will be sad to see him go this will give them a little more opportunity to invest over a number of years.
Kudos to Raul Sanllehi too, who spoke about ‘outsmarting the market’ and when you’re able to get a player like Pepe in during a season – and summer – in which Arsenal aren’t the most flush with cash, this is a very shrewd move. For me it’s shrewd because Arsenal need to strengthen their team. They don’t have the money to do so, but unless you invest in improving the first team, you are only going to drift away from the possibility of obtaining that Champions League revenue. So he has used his nous to bag a very good player in Ceballos who could (we hope) have an important part to play in top four aspirations, as well as bringing in another pacey attacking player who will hopefully get plenty of goals to add to the threat of Auba and Laca already. And in those three we could have a very potent attack indeed.
It’s exciting. Football is about goals and whilst there will be time for chewed fingernails and worried faces when it comes to our defensive line up, that time is not today, because today is about the mouth-watering prospect of seeing such a vast array of attacking Arsenal options on the pitch in this upcoming season.
It’s excited me. Arsenal May well just be rather exciting this season. We may well just be in for the ride of our lives.
As I said on a Twitter meme yesterday featuring Doc Emmet Brown from Back to the Future:
“Where we’re going Unai, we don’t need defenders…”
Get in there.
Of course now we’re just in the euphoria of a shiny new signing. Now we are just projecting glory and have no real frame of reference for how Pepe is going to perform in the Premier League or how long it will take him to adjust. But the hope is that we have ourselves one heck of a player and only time will tell.
Arsenal have made their statement of intent this summer. They have shown their hand that they are ‘going big’ and now what we need to see is that translated to the pitch. Emery has the firepower. A combination of great youth prospects and the likes of Pepe show this. But he still needs to execute the plan and we still need to improve in a lot of places. We need to be outscoring opponents right now, because we leak goals, but we need to do it right from the go next Sunday.
Let’s hope the intent can be translated to execution and the delivery of points.
Up the Arsenal!