Yesterday I was pondering the time at the club for those players due to leave and so today I thought it only made sense for me to spill some words on to this here page on those returning this season. For the sake of clarity and this not turning in to war and peace, I’ve not included all of the loanees from the youth set up like Daniel Ballard, Trae Coyle and Zech Medley, although some like Ballard appear to have been particularly impressive, as has Mark McGuiness and Matt Smith I believe. I will not profess to you that I’ve been following their time, so this is only loose info, but more I want to focus on my opinion as to whether I think – and would like – to see them return next season. But I’ll focus on those first team names we are all familiar with, starting with…
He’s an interesting player because I’ve never quite warmed to him if I’m honest. His first season was good, I was pleasently surprised given how many games he actually played compared to what I thought he’d play under Emery, but from a football perspective I always worried about him from a defensive side. He’s decent enough facing the opponents’ goal, but the amount of times he was run past and just jogged back without much of a challeng (remember Pogba ambling past him in a game against United?) used to infuriate me. There is talent there but it has always felt like the ego has overridden that and for that reason I am hoping we cash in this summer. We bought him for £7million and so anything north of £10million means we get a potentially problematic player off our books and the money into the transfer kitty to fund a small part of the rebuild. I also think that despite what Arteta says about everyone having a clean slate, he won’t countenance a return for the Frenchman and with acccyear left to go on his deal this feels like a bit of a no brainer to be honest. I just hope we are swift in getting the deal done. No hanging around until the end of August in the hope of driving cthe price up. Just get rid.
Lucas Torreira I’m particularly sad about. I’m even more sad that he lost his mum, has endured a torrid time as a result, plus what we thought would be a match made in heaven in the shape of Simeone and Atletico, just hasn’t worked out. He’s clearly not been in a good place for a while and the frustrating thing from an Arsenal perspective is whilst in this grieving position he spoke to the press a number of times about wanting to return to Boca, totally devaluing his value and making it all the more difficult to sell. He is an asset, he has a contract for another couple of years I think and whilst Arsenal would i’m sure be sympathetic to his wishes, now that Boca know how the cards have been dealt, they will be looking to get him for practically nothing. It is a real shame how this seems to be ending in terms of his Arsenal career because I have always rated him. Tenacious, energetic, a good player for us and only fell out of the team when Emery inexplicably played him as a number ten at times, Torreia could probably have come back and seen if he could fight for a place at the club had all of these noises not happened. I suspect Arsenal and Arteta will be looking to offload him anywhere in Europe now, but the price will be a far cry from what we paid for him.
If the other two have been a disappointment in terms of their value, this is the gem that has massively increased in value and whilst I am as delighted as the rest of you with his upturn in form, I still think we should consider selling whilst his value will be at its highest. I think Willock has been superb, he’s scored goals in a midfield at Newcastle that has clearly been better than what our midfield has delivered this season. He’s a player who would no doubt offer more than Ceballos, but where I’m coming from is that we need much more than what Ceballos gave us and that ‘much more’ isn’t just goals. Willock has always been able to put the ball back in the net but the problem I’m having with him is working out where we would play him. In place of Smith-Rowe at 10? No chance. Wide forward? He isn’t one of those and we are stocked in those positions. In the midfield two? I’m just not sure he’s got all the tools for that, particularly from a pass distribution and defensive perspective, which is why I think we have to cash in because he just doesn’t fit our system. So let’s put the feelers out and cash in on a player who will fetch a premium. And that premium has to be north of £25million. If Newcastle want to pay that then fine, let’s do the deal, but I wonder if a cheeky first option £35million buyback could be inserted. You know, just in case he lights it up for them and ends up with Frank Lampard numbers from midfield. Easier said than done on that kind of deal I know.
This is another player who I would love to come back, tell Mikel he wants to take Hector’s spot at right back, then really work hard for it over the summer. But I just don’t see it. He wants to play midfield apparently and I can’t see Arteta giving him the keys to the motor so he can drive in the middle of the park. Which is why I would – and think we will probably see – him leave the club this summer. He’s got a year left on his contract, like Willock he has no real spot to jump back in to if he doesn’t want to play right back, so we should grab the money and look to re-invest. An offer of £15million seems like it’d be good for us and any team buying him still gets a Premier League proven, versatile, athletic, footballer.
I’d basically forgotten about him. Apparently did alright in a relegate Schalke team but let’s be honest here, he will want to move back to Germany and my hope is that a) there is enough interest in him and his stock is still relatively high, and b) we have a German team able to pick up his large wages. He’ll no doubt be one of those we offload for free so the ‘purchasing’ club can justify the wage outlay.
I’m not sure whether you can say that the high profile loans have been particularly successful – Willock aside – which means there will be a bit of work to do to make enough money to fund the rebuild. But that’s why Edu is paid what he is, so let’s hope he earns it.