Morning folks. Let’s start with some positive news this morning, shall we? And that news was thew confirmation that Flo Balogun has signed a new deal with the club that keeps him at The Arsenal until 2025. It is a deal that four or five months ago not many of us thought would happen and it looked for all the world that this young startlet would see out his contract and head for pastures new and I think most of us had started to come to terms with that, as well as the fact that he’d probably end up being an absolute superstar who, in three year’s time would return to the Emirates for Man City and bag a hat trick to really rub our noses in it.
Or that is certainly the projection that I – and many Arsenal supporting mates – had about how it would all come back to bite us on the arse. It may well not come to pass, he may well go the way of Aneke, Emmanuel-Thomas, or even more recently not manage to properly break through in to the first team on a more regular basis than the sporadic game time that Nketiah has. But as of today it appears as though we have a good, strong, well regarded young player, who surely must now start to at least see some more minutes between now and the rest of the season. We’d be mad not to get a better look at him. He’s a guy who – should he demonstrate that his performances and goals in the Europa League were not just isolated data points in time – looks like he has all of the tools to make it. Strong, physically imposing, has already got off the mark with goals, plus he’s a different type of player to the poacher that is Eddie. Balogun looks more rounded and suited to an Arsenal team that doesn’t do what City does; we don’t string 17 passes together, get the ball to the byline and cut back for a man to tap in within the six yard box. That’s why Eddie would be great if we were that team. But we aren’t and I don’t think we could even get close to it within the next two or three years.
Which is why a player like Balogun signing on is good. And the deal length is interesting too. It’s only four years, as it expires in 2025, which says to me that the club need to have a very, VERY, clear plan for him asap. I wonder if he’ll even go out on loan next season. That would have been my first thoguht but with a four year deal it means that if he’s out on loan and smashes, then comes back next summer and has a blinder in an Arsenal shirt, he’ll finish his first full season as an Arsenal regular and we’ll already have to talk about renewing the deal. I know I’m once again projecting but I have a sneaky suspicion that Eddie will be gone this summer and Balogun has been told that he’ll be moved up the peacking order and get more of Eddie’s minutes from this season. That makes a whole heap of sense to me so if that is the case then it is positive. It would also mean we are clear in cashing in on Nketiah and whilst he’s been ok for us and seems like a lovely lad, we are in needs of funds this summer and he just needs to be one of many to build out a ‘war chest’.
And with the volume of players that need to be moved on, there will need to be a ‘war’ chest to find replacements. I said it on Twitter over the last couple of days; Arteta needs to win the Europa League of course in order to restore some of the wavering support from a collective of Arsenal fans, but he also has to show that he found the performance of his team unaccpetable this season and keeping faith in those players next season should simply not be an option. If he undertakes mass change in the squad this summer it shows that he knew that many of these players weren’t good enough. If he decides to keep a bunch of them around then to me it shows that he is accepting of the mediocrity these players have delivered over a two year period now. That in itself should call into question his ability to turn us back in to the successful team we want. So if this Balogun signing is a hint of what is to come i.e. making room and shifting out a number of players, then I am all in on it.
Of course the ‘war chest’ might even come from the Spotify owner, if all of the noise of yesterday is to be believed, which of course I do not. Don’t get me wrong, I would love it if a new owner came in – an Arsenal fan no less – to offer us something different from the dreadful and absent ownership of KSE. But I just think the only way Arsenal are being wrestled from the Kroenke’s clutches is if the club is prized from their cold, dead, fingers and so I think we’ll end up having them for decades to come. Sadly.
But we can all dream of a consortium featuring Thierry, Patrick and Dennis, even if it is the most fanciful thing I’ve ever heard. For one thing two of those three ex-players still see themselves as managers. Can you imagine what would happen if it came off and you had Patrick Vieira at board level at Arsenal, along with Thierry, question MIkel and wondering whether they’d do a better job themselves? It all just sounds too fanciful to me, even if it would be a favourite idea from most of us.
So let’s leave it there for today. Let’s leave it with a wonderful dream of ridding ourselves with the worst ‘custodians’ in Arsenal’s long history, replacing them with ex-players, who would love the club as much as we do.
Catch you all tomorrow.