It feels like the machinations of this summer are finally starting to whirr together. Yesterday we were treated to Arsenal fans tracking flights, cab journeys and general sleuthing of where Gabriel Magalhaes was and what time he was due to arrive, but the greater volume of noise definitely ended up being about who could be an outgoing at the club. Which is why Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ imminent exit to Wolves for a reported fee of £20million is first on everyone’s lips this morning.
I have to say this became quite a divisive discussion when I was pondering it on Twitter yesterday. I saw just as many people happy about the move as unhappy. It’s intriguing because it is fair to say that most Arsenal fans were accepting that the player was probably out of the door before lockdown. Arteta just wasn’t playing him, he had publicly questioned him and told him that he needed to do more, whilst as fans we all pretty much accepted that the reason Cedric Soares was signed was because Ainsley was out the door.
But what a difference an FA Cup final makes, eh? Not just that because he played well in the semi final against Man City too, but if you’d have told me that we were getting £20million for him before lockdown I probably wouldn’t have been too surprised given how little he seemed to feature under Arteta. But those two performances in the competition made me think about his versatility, his athleticism and also how Arteta could deploy a bit of a Swiss Army Knife footballer. These are the types of players Arteta wants in his team and there’s also a reason we’re signing Gabriel, because he is athletic. Ainsley fits that profile and at a time in which clubs like Bournemouth are holding out for £18million for their average ‘keeper Ramsdale, or when they themselves could buy an untried and untested Jordan Ibe for £20million from Liverpool, this feels a little like we are applying a bit of COVID discount. Which I’d understand if everybody was doing the same, but they’re not, which means we’re effectively selling ourselves short I think.
Some might argue that it shouldn’t matter whether it’s £20million or £30million if Arteta isn’t going to use him that much, but let’s not forget that Arsenal have already lost Ceballos (for the moment), Guendouzi won’t play again, then we also hear that Bellerin is being offered to PSG, as well as Kolasinac to Schalke. That would leave us with just Soares at right back and Saka as the back up to Tierney, so to me that feels a little light. In right back it also wouldn’t feel like much of an upgrade. In fact it’s a downgrade. So we will need to buy and every penny counts, which means £20million or £30million to Arsenal makes a difference if the fee is higher.
If I play devils advocate you can argue that there hasn’t been that many transfers made so far this summer and so it is difficult to tell just how much of this ‘COVID discount’ we’ll see on transfers. Perhaps in a month’s time we’ll be appreciative of the fact that there is a discount being applied. We’ve heard the Jaden Sancho rumours of his value being retained in the market but that could just be Dortmund posturizing.
Like I said though, given that this appears to be a divisive discussion around what is a fair market value for the price, it suggests to me that we’re probably not that far off to be honest.
The sale will help to offset the money paid for Gabriel and it also shows that Arsenal are up and running for their exodus. Hopefully it also shows other bidding clubs that we’re open to selling some of our assets and we need to start making that loud and clear. We have a bloated squad and in some positions we need to offload, which in my head suggests that Leeds getting Holding makes sense. Whether or not £5million – which is what is rumoured – is a fair price I’m not so sure. He feels like a £10million footballer minimum. Then you have Sokratis who is rumoured to be of interest from Napoli. Again, that’s probably just one to get off the wage bill, so getting a couple of million there would be decent enough business to ensure we clear room. When you add a possible – and hopeful – sale of Guendouzi, then you’re looking at us potentially recouping around £60million right there. That will help for the reshuffling of Arteta’s playing deck and we haven’t even talked about Torreira who has talked about a potential move. If he were to go as well as Bellerin though, there’s even more work that is needed when realistically we already have enough to do this summer as it is. So whilst it feels like very few players are ‘unsellable’ at the moment, I’d be surprised if those two were moved on. Not unless they make it difficult for Arteta to pick them, which I don’t think would happen, because they just don’t seem like the type of players who would do that.
There was also some noises about a promising young player from the academy – Sam Greenwood – being touted by Leeds as a potential £1.5million signing. Again it would be an interesting one because he’s supposedly highly rated player and it feels like a loan would be a move Arsenal would make before a sale, but I guess it depends just how desperate we are for cash now and boosting the coffers ASAP. One to watch I suspect, just like Balogun who if you believe the rumours, has attracted Liverpool and Southampton. We’ll just have to wait and see if any of that is true.
Right, that’s it from me today, as I prep for a bit of holiday time from tomorrow. Will still most likely be blogging for the rest of this week, but the plan is for me and the Management to head off to Portugal next Monday, so might start to be a little sporadic as I nurse various hangovers.
Catch you tomorrow though.