Morning folks and welcome to the middle of the week again. The countdown to our next set of season-defining fixtures is well and truly upon us and tomorrow evening we find out if we are a step closer to glory, in the grey area of “who knows?”, or staring down the barrel of another season that has petered out before March has even left us.
We’ll get a press conference from Arteta today no doubt and hopefully the team news is positive. It doesn’t seem like we have any noises of players injured from last Saturday’s draw with Burnley, but this is Arsenal and you never know, we could find out today that Aubameyang and Saka have both walked over rakes and busted both of their faces open at London Colney, meaning we’ll be missing them for tomorrow night’s Europa League as well as the North London Derby.
Because of the lack of immediate news however, I did the stupid thing of going on the Sky Sports this morning and looking at Dermot Gllagher’s ‘ref watch’. I know that he was a pretty poor ref when he actually did ref games and I know that every time I have read his nonsense on Sky i’ve been exasperated, but I still look to see if one week, maybe ONE week, he would fess up and admit the referees were wrong for an Arsenalgame.
Nope, not this week. I almost had to laugh though, because in his pieces it ultimately comes down to him saying “Dermott’s verdict: Correct decision” or “incorrect decision”. Black and white. Fine. For the Burnley stonewall handball? “Decision made on proximity”. What??? So where you’ve spent all season making things black or white, now you are changing your own process? Why am I not surprised. He is a product of the PGMOL and it is the most fundamentally flawed institution I have ever seen. I should really be getting on with my life now, but I keep hearing and seeing ridiculous opinions like this and it drags me right back in to the fury zone.
Snap out of it Chris, there are other things to worry about now, like how the devil Arsenal get European football next season. And if they don’t what are the options, in terms of finances.
For me, all I could think about whilst I was in the shower this morning was “sell the family silver” and in Arsenal’s case that means some of the Hale Enders will surely have to be moved on. Not the most precious of silver, I mean, but certainly those players with whom we could perhaps finally get this ‘British Premium’ which every other club seems to be able to add to a player asking price. You know, like when Liverpool conned £20million-odd for Rhian Brewster to Sheffield United, or when they sold Jordan Ibe to Bournemouth for circa £15million. Well this summer I think it is time we did our bit to mitigate for no European football – assuming we don’t win the Europa League – by cashing in on a number of players; I’m also looking at non-Hale Enders too by the way.
As I was thinking about what we needed to do to ensure we have a bit of cash to improve the squad, I started to think about developing that fabled ‘war chest’, so in the absence of any team news just yet, here’s me showing some of my working. I deliberately gone a little pessimistic on values to try and work out what the bare minimum I think we should be looking at. IF we did all of these sales at this value I’d probably be pretty cheesed off to be honest when other clubs will no doubt get more for their players, but just to work out what we should be looking at in the summer at worse case, I thought it would be worthwhile.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles = £15million
I like Ainsley, I think he’s a decent squad player, but if we’re not in Europa or Champions League then the need for a bigger squad is less. He isn’t being played veryoften as a full back and Arteta doesn’t fancy as a centre midfielder. As an England international now this is the least we should expect.
Eddie Nketiah = £15million
Again, I stress I think this is under valuing Eddie, but with a year left on his contract I just don’t see why we would keep him around. He isn’t even being given a look in ahead of Aubameyang or Lacazette and if we all know we need an upgrade on Laca and Eddie STILL isn’t showing he’s better than him, shouldn’t we be looking at a better player to understudy Aubameyang through the middle?
Joe Willock = £10million
On loan at Newcastle, looks to be doing ok, has plenty of minutes in the Premier League and now he’s getting even more, so surely we could get him for that at least? He hasn’t really kicked on from an impressive start under Emery at times at the beginning of last season and sometimes you just need to accept that a player won’t make it and make space for somebody else coming in. If we need cash in the summer he feels like a good player to move on because you have Azeez who is apparently on the verge of stepping up and as that young player who can take Willock’s minutes, I think that works.
Reiss Nelson = £10million
Clearly not fancied by Arteta, another loan move in the summer feels pointless, it feels like we should be looking to shift him on and maybe even insert a buy-back if he turns into a player like Zaha did when he went back to Palace from United. Or at least tell a club like that they can have Reiss for £10million, but we’ll take 50% of hi sell on fee if he does kick on and become the player we all hoped he would be four years ago.
Calum Chambers = £5million
Again, another player I like, but a guy who hasn’t really had much of a look in this season since he’s come back and with the sheer volume of centre halves we have and Saliba returning for next season, this feels like an easy decision to make. I’ve gone low on his value because of his injury problems and lack of game time, but he played a whole season for Fulham a couple of years ago and I can see a team like that taking a punt so maybe we get double that price in the market.
Alexandre Lacazette = £10million
Again, low for a guy with his reputation, but with a year left on his deal, 29 years old and on a big wage, it feels like we need to shift him to make way for the renovation of this Arsenal team. We’ve invested in Auba, that means Laca has to move on.
Mohammed Elneny = £5million
Another one with a year on his contract, not really good for Arsenal and everyone knows it, but there will be teams who would take a punt at that fee. Especially abroad I think, so this feels an obvious one.
So there you have it. A chunk of £70million at a pessimistic figure from me. I think that, added with at least some money from the coffers – say an additional £40million – gives us a £110million pot to spend. To mean I think you then look at a proper midfielder at around £30 -£40million, a replacement for Odegaard if we can’t have him at £30million, then you spend another £30 -£40million on a centre forward in his early 20s. Of course there are also question marks about Bellerin, who I haven’t included here, but it he moves on then you just replace with the money you get for Bellerin.
If we go out and get those three players for the spine of the team – central midfield, creative connector in at number ten, then a centre forward, not only have we further trimmed the squad for no European football, but we can also improve the first team and maybe have a better go at the league table next season.
What do you think?