Morning folks. Hope you’re all good where you are? For me it’s back to work and whilst the scenery doesn’t change much – desk jockey working from home for the foreseeable future – the lack of booze and late get ups does, so I’m a wee bit groggy this morning, I must confess.
Perhaps that’s why my first Arsenal-related thoughts are a tad melancholy too, because I keep thinking about the William Saliba situation, as rumours surfaced over the weekend that after a meeting with representatives both player, agent and Arsenal are all exploring options that involve both a potential loan or permanent move away from the club.
Now, I know that perhaps at 19-years-old there is an argument to say that Saliba may not be ready for the rigours of the Premier League, I get that totally. But I find it really difficult to swallow that after six months of him training with us, that he isn’t good enough or have enough potential, that he shouldn’t be given at least some kind of game time to prove whether he has a long term future. It’s the ‘permanent’ part of the rumours that are the biggest worry for me, you see, because that suggests that there is something going on in the background that is not quite right.
I have seen some suggest that perhaps there could be attitude problems. I’m not sure that’s the case here. Arteta has already spoken about some of the leaks that have been coming out of the club and if there were attitude problems – we certainly heard about stuff with Guendouzi last season – then we would have heard about them with a little more voracity than we have been hearing so far. So I don’t think it is attitude.
I’ve also heard people suggest that Arteta has had a look at him and doesn’t really fancy him that much as an Arsenal player. I’m not sure that’s it either. For one thing, if he thinks that some of the performances from the likes of Mustafi, Elneny, Willian, etc, are perfectly fine, then perhaps his bar is a little lower than we thought? Hey, I’m not trying to stick the boot in to Arteta by the way; I’ve been behind him the whole time and certainly don’t bear any ill will towards him, but he himself has said that everyone gets a chance providing they are trying to work hard. Unless Saliba isn’t trying in training, which could also be a possibility, but again that goes back to a question of the players character. But if you know you don’t have a chance of playing regardless of how well you train, how much motivation can there truly be?
There is no doubt that in the Saliba situation the club really have cocked up in a big way. The whole “we couldn’t get the paperwork done in time for a loan” is, frankly, embarrassing and the way in which this lad’s career has been mis-managed is one of the biggest worries for me. Not just for the player, but also for what it says about how the football executives at the club run the club. “We didn’t get the paperwork done in time” is no excuse at all; not for a supposed elite football team and one of the biggest in the country. You’d expect that from a League One club running on a shoestring budget and with less admin staff because of COVID, but not Arsenal football club with the infrastructure they have.
And perhaps that’s one of the reasons I am also a little saddened by the Saliba situation. Yes, there is a player we’ve paid a lot of money for, who was supposed to be one of the hottest defensive prospects in the game, that we haven’t used and might find himself a little pissed off right now. But I haven’t actually seen much of him play, so why is it getting me so worried? Like I say, I think it is the underlying issues that this whole saga has brought about that worries me. The fact we gave the reigns to a guy in Raul Sanllehi who clearly wasn’t the right man and who has delivered a host of very dodgy-looking signings, is an alarm bell, but we’ve also now handed across the reigns to a rookie technical director who has never had this kind of power at any organisation let alone one of football’s bigger clubs (and I’m also talking about the money that Arsenal make too as qualifying it as one of the bigger clubs in the world, by the way).
So now we head in to a January transfer window in which the club needs to make some big decisions, with another person with whom we don’t really know whether they are good enough. I’m talking about Edu of course. Arteta has shown there is real potential there, but we haven’t seen it from Edu, not as of yet anyway. We can’t afford to be given the run around from agents any more. We can’t afford to be spunking £70million+ on players who aren’t the right fit for the league or the team. We can’t smash £25million+ on young players and then work out a year later we’re not going to have a plan for their development and integration in to the team. And we can’t afford to wedge in another freeloading 30-something because he’s got a good agent who can do a nice deal at Arsenal. We’ve used up that approach and it is why we are in our current predicament.
It is time the club changed its approach and I am hoping that the Saliba situation is resolved to our benefit as soon as possible. For me that is a loan move out this January, let him have hopefully a really great move somewhere, then let’s have him back at Arsenal in June to be properly integrated in to our first team and registered for the squad for the 2021-22 season.
Catch y’all tomorrow with some more Arsenal-related thoughts. I’ll be more positive then, promise!!