Morning folks and welcome to Friday! Yesterday was the first day in which we didn’t get any football and tonight it is the same, as the round of 16 games don’t start until tomorrow and I have to say, I always find it a little sad. In some ways the group stages are the best parts of international tournaments, because for two week’s you essentially get games on whenever you want all day every day. It’s a football feast and then when you have it no more it feels a little like a football famine. But there you go.
And what fills the void? The hotting up of the transfer market of course! Although we haven’t heard anything yet, but Ornstein reporting that the Ben White deal looks basically done and when Orny drops the kind of detail he did yesterday on the deal, you know it is essentially happening. It will be a good player who will improve our defence, but of course I remain baffled as to why this is our focus when we have so many other issues. I think I might have already said this recently but it kind of reminds me about the times when we thought Arsene needed to buy a midfielder or a defender in the January window, then we’d end up with an Arshavin. Or when we all were crying out for a centre forward in January so he went out and bought Nacho Monreal in at left back.
The upsides of those deals were that it worked. Arshavin came in and gave us an instant boost, scoring on his debut and helping us to secure fourth, whereas Monreal came in and showed what a class left back he was. Yes it was at the expense of Kieran Gibbs, but as much as we liked him, Monreal showed what the next level of full back looked like.
Perhaps Ben White will be the same for us as well? Maybe he will come in with some progressive, ball-playing defending, showing us than a big upgrade on David Luiz was not only needed, but essential for us to evolve and get to where Arteta wants us to be. But again the optics do look a little weird. I’ll not go over the Saliba stuff again, but perhaps we could start being linked to a right back maybe? Or at least close out a deal for a central midfielder? The Ben White deal looks the first one to get along the line but what about Lokonga? I hope that’s just dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s but it just looks a little weird from the outside looking in.
It also looks like we’re paying top dollar on players, whilst exiting other players for pennies. The noises that Mavropanos is joining Stuttgart for £500k as a loan deal, then a £3million deal at the end of the season if they stay up is, frankly ludicrous. He’s been good for them from what I hear and they’re bringing him in for next to nothing. That’s also when we hear that some of our other players like McGuinness, Coyle and Medley have all left supposedly on a free. You only have to hope that we get a massive chunk of any sell on for the players because that just sounds like we’re a bit mental otherwise.
I get that we need to raise cash but it feels right now like we’re basically accepting any club and their low ball offers, whilst being drawn over hot coals for any players we are interested in.
Perhaps I shouldn’t care too much because perhaps KSE are funding some sort of mega spree that effectively resets the club, but I would be stunned if that were true and if it is some form of a loan that we’re taking out to buy players, what happens if it fails? I remember when Leeds got relegated under Peter Risdale as the chairman. They got a loan out to try to ‘kick us on’ I think and I think the aim was to go from a team who got to the semi final of the Champions League, to perennial Premier League title contenders. The money was massively wasted on useless players and they ended up tumbling down the leagues. I don’t think that will happen with this Arsenal side, of course, but even another season or two in mid-table mediocrity will have us looking like we could be drifting into even more years without being competitive. That’s one of my biggest worries.
Which is why the White deal worries me. Not for the player, but for what else needs doing, but seemingly is not being done at the moment, although admittedly the problem as well is, I guess, that we have the Euro’s and so little movement is happening. The only move I wondered if it would happen was whether we were going to have a little nibble at trying to get Odegaard as he’s not at the Euro’s because Norway didn’t qualify. I wondered whether that’d be one we could get done by now but with him seemingly staying at Real Madrid, the need for us is another number 10/playmaker in between the lines. I hope we are scouring the earth for that player because as last season showed, we need it and when Smith Rowe wasn’t available, we called on Odegaard. So we need that Odegaard replacement for next season. Perhaps that is Aouar again? He’s been linked but it feels more speculative than anything else. It’s the same with Fekir too. There have been some links but none of it feels too concrete. The Maddison stuff won’t go away but again that feels like a quiet thing bubbling along in the background and the biggest worry is we hold out for somebody like him and are then strung along by Leicester all summer before missing out. So I hope there is a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ player they have that is available and quick to do a deal on. Maybe that is Fekir as Betis seem open to selling.
Who can say. What I can say, though, is that we’re knocking on the door of July and I’d love us to get a move on with some of the deals we need to do.
Right, that’s me done for the day – catch you lovely people tomorrow.