So we have now seen pictures of the players returning to training this week and what have we learned?

Very little of course. Because it’s training. And you only get the occasional still. I do think all of the Premier League clubs should start broadcasting video content of the training. You know, so we can get used to watching it, because that’s essentially what we’re going to see come June 20th. Which we pretty much know for sure is the start of this end to the season, after Dani Ceballos also confirmed it in an interview with a Spanish media outfit. Sorry for the link but the English translation I read cam from the Express. I know, it feels dirty for me to read from their site too.

But Ceballos has said he’s raring to go and that’s good to hear. He’s a player who arrived with some quietly excited expectation from some Arsenal fans, dropping a peach of a performance at home to Burnley in the sun in August, but never really replicated that for the remainder of the season. Of course we know he had his injury and he’s also had to endure most of his season loan being managed by the bum that was Unai Emery, but still I’d have hoped we’d see more from him. Who knows, maybe we still can, as there’s at least another ten games to play for this season.

That’s also got me to thinking for the loan deals we do and, well, there’s only one that I can think of that has even been a modicum of success. Yossi Benayoun. But even he spent two-thirds of the season on the bench before coming good and helping us get in to the Champions League in the season he was at the club. The other roll call of loan signings that we’ve made have hardly been shining stars for us, have they?

We’ve had Denis Suarez, Kim Kallstrom, Julio Baptista, Emiliano Viviano…it’s hardly testament to our ability to pick up short term signings, is it?

Perhaps we should stick to permanent deals, although give the market we’ll see in July/August when they finish the season, I can’t really see much of that happening if I’m honest. Perhaps a free transfer or two?

The problem with that is that the types of players we need aren’t coming up for expiry this season. I had a little look on Transfermarkt the other day and the list wasn’t exactly extensive. There are a few on there i’d take, but in what positions? I think we’ll need another centre midfielder and if Aubameyang is sold then a replacement will need to be found. Apparently Blaise Matuidi’s contract is up for grabs and he might be a decent addition. He’s 33 though so would only be a short term solution. Santi is available but in reality that’s another short term solution with a player who is now 35 and we probably aren’t going to see many better years ahead of him. I loved Santi just as much as you did I’m sure, but there is little room for sentiment in football so that’s probably not one we should be looking at.

Ryan Fraser is available but if I’m honest I don’t see that as an exciting deal. We have the likes of Pepe, Martinelli, Saka, Nelson, who can all play in that position and so I don’t really see the value in getting somebody like that to clog up our wide forward positions.

If Auba does leave us this summer, there’s Cavani who’s available on a free, but ever time I’ve watched him he needs about 10 opportunities to finish his dinner, so given we seem to be a team with an aversion to shooting at times, it wouldn’t exactly bode well for us if he was leading the line. Dries Mertens is one that has been tipped to be on a lot of people’s radars, but I’m trying to remember how many footballers have come from Italy and been a massive success. Bergkamp and Zola, of course, but if you’re having to go back to 1995 to talk about Dennis Bergkamp then it shows just how rare it is.

The other names we’ve heard are Layvin Kurzawa who, if i’m honest, I wouldn’t understand why we’d pick up unless we knew we were going to get some cash for Kolasinac. It’s the same on the other flank if we went for his PSG teammate Thomas Meunier. Unless they’re planning on offloading Bellerin for money and bringing in the Belgian, I just don’t see why we’d do it.

Mario Goetze was linked with us once but he’s had injury problems and never really re-hit the heights at Dortmund the second time around. At 26 has he already peaked? Will he become like a Bojan and slowly fizzle out before he’s hit his 30th birthday?

It’s a tough one and the free transfer market doesn’t look like there are any names out there in positions that we really need them in. Again I know we’ve been linked with Willian, but why would we go down that route when we’ve already spent a big wedge of cash on Pepe and have such good young players coming through on the flanks?

Doesn’t make sense to me. But then again a lot of Arsenal’s transfer decision making over the five or so years hasn’t always made too much sense. Hopefully Arteta can change that. Until then we just have to see how this extended pre season plays out.

Catch y’all tomorrow.