The Euro’s got back underway last night and I watched Wales get smashed up by an impressive Danish team and thought “Wales aren’t that good really, are they?” I don’t know whether it’s because they are one of the home nations, or because they’ve got the likes of Bale and Ramsey in their side, but I was expecting them to lay a glove or two on Denmark but clearly that was not the case and despite one or two questionable refereeing decisions in the game, I don’t think even the proudest and most biased Wales fan would argue that they didn’t deserve to lose.
I’m staying round the in-laws at the moment and they’re not really in to football, so dinner was at a time which meant I couldn’t really watch Italy take on Austria, but I managed to catch the extra time and that was where all the goals were so I didn’t feel like I’d missed too much. That Chiesa fella has looked good in this tournament, I have to say, and in international tournaments there’s always one or two players who have a blinder and are then elevated on the worlds stage. The chap Maehler for Denmark looks one and Chiesa looks like the other one for me so far.
But the big game – and one I’m really interested in – is tonight as Belgium take on Portugal at 8pm UK time. It’s hard not to fancy the Belgians but Portugal might spring a surprise so I’m looking forward to that one.
In terms of Arsenal news, the big one was the confirmation of KT’s contract extension. It gives him the bump in pay he deserves and ensures that his long term future is secured. You won’t find an Arsenal fan unhappy with this news and getting it done quickly and quietly before getting it announced so we can all celebrate it is a smart move by Edu and his team. Next season there will be more rest time in between matches and I think that means Tierney will get more chance to lay more matches and hopefully not break down with injury. When he’s playing he changes our approach on that left hand side and his overlapping runs in attack give us a dynamism that no other player at full back has been able to get close to.
It tells a story that when we all talks about what we’re going to do at right back this season, most Arsenal fans I speak to say “well, if we could just find somebody like Tierney who is right footed…”, because that’s the positive impact he has had. But those fans that say that are right; if we managed to find a dynamic and creative full back able to but good balls in from the right but also beat his man with a bit of pace, we’d be able to move teams around a bit more, stop them from overloading on our left to deal with the obvious increased threat level we pose on that side, then we would have teams asking a lot more questions as to how they set up against us next season.
With that contract signed we now need ESR tied down and by the sounds of it we are getting closer. The Aston Villa bids are unsettling because it shows they’ve been given the thumbs up from the players representatives, but my hope is that it is just a negotiation tool for Smith Rowe’s ‘people’ and that the intention is – and has always been – to sign an extension at The Arsenal.
Although ESR feels like something that could be heading towards a positive conclusion, however, the Saliba situation feels like it’s just got complicated with him being called up to the French Team for the Olympics. It means he will be away from around 23rd July for a month and basically means he misses the first few games of the season. Then when you factor in the need to probably get some rest if they go deep into the competition before resuming his role in the Arsenal team, this feels like an incredibly bad timed situation from his Arsenal career point of view.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps this will give him an opportunity to play, to come back and then have a go at getting back in the Arsenal team this season? Imagine if he manages to usurp Holding for that right sided centre half slot; isn’t that what most of us kind of wanted? To have Saliba and potentially Ben White on the right, then Gabriel and Pablo Mari on the left of the centre? That would work for me and although I’m not Holding’a biggest fan, I’d have no problem if he started the season as one of the main centre halves, but was slowly phased out as Saliba manages to get more game time.
There were some rumours that five clubs were interested in Holding and that Arsenal were looking for around the £30million mark. I suspect the one or two online social media accounts were just speculating for a click or two because most journos are saying that Holding stays at the club, but if a bid like that did come in I would really like to hope that we entertained the offer. Holding is a solid pro, but as we all know, he’s also very limited in what he can do and how far he can get us. If Saliba comes in and slowly but eventually slits in ahead of the Englishman, I’d be ok with that.
I also wonder whether Arsenal will look at the fact Ben White can play at right back and how Chambers played last season, and are looking at that as an option, if they don’t manage to get a KT equivalent on our right hand side. I’d be surprised because it would feel like we’ve got two auxiliary right backs who are actually centre halves playing in that position, but if that did happen then maybe it does give us more hope that Saliba has a long term future at The Arsenal.
One person who doesn’t, however, is Mavropanos, who on Friday it was confirmed has joined Stuttgart on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season if they stay up. The fee is quite paltry I have to say and it is frustrating that every club seems to be able to add a zero to their fee expectations, whereas we’re getting lowballed left, right and centre. A total fee of €7million is ridiculous though and if he bangs in Germany – they loved him last season so no reason to think he wouldn’t – you can see him moving somewhere else in Europe in a couple of season’s time for closer to the £20million mark.
If that happens I hope Arsenal have been sensible and added in a sell on clause. If Stuttgart get £20million but £5million goes to Arsenal, for example, then you’d have to say we’ve done the right thing. Whether or not that actually got inserted, however, will probably come out in the wash. Either way it was a shame because he showed some early promise at Arsenal, injuries got in the way and he never really got the chance to establish himself in the side again. Good luck to him though.
And that’s probably enough from me today. Off for a run. Catch you lovely people tomorrow.