After the trauma of Saturday evening and what happened to Christian Eriksen, yesterday was back to football and dare I say it, it was actually a lot of fun to watch the matches I watched. I sat down just after lunch in my back garden and watched an England team that, for a change, didn’t bore the hell out of me. They controlled possession, hit the post, looked to win the ball back higher up the pitch, played with a bit more intensity than I expected on a hot day in London and overall were rather impressive. They got the goal and whilst there were some moments in which the match naturally had lulls in it, looked half decent. They even did it without some of the more exciting players in the squad like Sancho, Saka, Grealish, etc.
Maybe watching England won’t be so bad after all, despite the unpleasantness of some ‘fans’ booing the taking of the knee. Those few idiots have been drowned out by the overwhelming positivity and we saw more people clapping and applauding it to drown out the boos. The way it should be.
Then, in the evening, I sat down inside to watch the Netherlands vs Ukraine game and weren’t we all treated to a humdinger of a match in the evening too, eh? The Dutch were deserved winners but Ukraine at least showed some fight at 2-0 down and Yarmolenko’s goal to get them back in to the game was an absolute peach. The game itself was fun to watch and that’s what international summer football should be all about.
So interested am I based on what I saw yesterday, that I might stick the football on in the background in my office later today when I’m working.
In terms of Arsenal-related news, it appears as though we’re playing a little bit of hardball with Roma because we’ve supposedly rejected a second bid for Granit Xhaka. This is an interesting situation I think, because Mourinho is the boss there, he’s just come in and on a few occasions when commentating for Sky Sports he’s been clear that he thought Xhaka was a good player. If Mourinho has identified Xhaka as ‘his guy’ then Roma will push quite hard on this and you can see why Arsenal might be happy to push back a little. If Mourinho has told Roma that Xhaka is priority number one and Arsenal know this then we’re not going to let them have him on the cheap. Roma got Mkhitaryan to buy out his own contract with us so they could get him on the cheap, so that isn’t happening twice – i.e. they get an Arsenal player for below market value – I don’t think.
The worry of course is if Roma have two or three players as options for that position that Xhaka fills and if that is the case then much like us when we walked away from Buendia after Villa supposedly bid more for the player than we were willing to go, if you believe the reports. That could happen to Roma if we try to hold out too much but given this is happening so quickly after the season has finished, i’d be surprised if both clubs couldn’t come to an arrangement.
And if it means a couple of extra mil in the transfer fund then all the better.
The talk in the papers yesterday was of a £100million windfall with players being shunted out for cash including Nketiah, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Nelson, Guendouzi, as well as Xhaka himself. That’s all very well, but with the positions we need to fill we must surely be looking at cheaper alternatives on mainland Europe, right? I mean the idea that we have £100million to spend and we’re going to drop half of that on a Ben White, for example, seems even more fanciful. We need right backs, left backs, central midfielders, as well as another creative playmaker and possibly even a centre forward, so if we’re looking at £100million as our outlay this summer, that works out at an average spend per position of around £20million. For that kind of money you are basically hoping that you can pick up unearthed gems from leagues like the Belgian league or similar. I think we probably could do that, but to find four or five gems? That’s a tall order I think.
As always the truth is probably just beyond what we’re seeing in the papers right now. We can all hope that there is a master plan in place but I suspect the reality is that sometimes it’s just opportunism and right place, right time. Just look at the Odegaard situation in January. The six month loan suited all parties and so it was a quick one to get done. How often does that happen though? Raul Sanllehi said once that when Arsenal come knocking it is a different sound to other clubs. I get what he was saying about how Arsenal are one of a handful of big clubs but the annoying reality with that big club label is that it also means that other clubs think they can chuck an extra few million on your valuation of a player. So even some of the lesser leagues in Europe might be looking at trying to extract a little more cash out of an Arsenal or other big club, compared to if somebody like Villa or West Ham. So £100million for us might not feel as big a windfall as it does for other clubs.
It all goes back to us needing to be essentially flawless in the summer transfer window this year. It’s a tall order for Mikel and Edu and I don’t envy their job at all if I’m honest. But they’ve got to do it and they’ve got to get it right, because if they don’t then we could be looking at Arsenal becoming one of those clubs with a rich history but a perennially under-achieving league table position.
But I don’t want to be overly negative today. Let’s just hope some master plans are under way and soon we’ll start to see them unfold.
Catch you wonderful humans tomorrow.