Football can be hella fun sometimes, can’t it?
I thought yesterday’s games would be decent given the standard of the respective oppositions, but I didn’t expect there to be an absolute thunderstorm of goals yesterday, for which I and I’m sure you were grateful for.
In the first game we saw shocking howlers (Croatia’s first goal), some fine finishes, plus a comeback at the death after it appeared that Croatia were dead and buried. When you have no stakes in a game and it’s knock out football, everyone loves a bit of extra jeopardy with extra time and we got that twice yesterday. Spain nudged themselves past Croatia, but it was the French and Swiss who proved to be the ultimate upset and if ever you want an example of fight and spirit and ensuring you are never quite ‘done’, then just re-watch that Switzerland v France game. 3-1 down with nine minutes to play, France looking imperious for the second half, yet it is Granit Xhaka and his boys who are celebrating this morning, having knocked out one of the favourites on penalties after that 3-3- draw.
And inevitably from an Arsenal perspective all eyes were on Granit Xhaka, who duly produced a man-of-the-match performance for his home country. Cue the tweets and retweets about how his value had just shot up, on how Edu was adding pounds, shilling and pence with every second, as well as comments on what Roma have to do now to prize the Swiss captain from the Arsenal team.
Most of them are tongue in cheek I know (mine certainly was), because I doubt Roma are going to suddenly rock up with a bundle more cash and tell us to shut up and take their money, but there is one consideration that my mate Cookie pointed out yesterday that would also be VERY palatable right now:
What if another team came in for Xhaka after a strong Euro’s?
Now that would be a very tasty scenario for Arsenal. Xhaka has hinted he wants to go to Roma and I’m sure it’d be his preferred move. But Arsenal still hold some power as the club that has the rights to his contract and if Xhaka wants out this summer then he might need to be prepared to compromise. If Roma don’t up their bid to meet the valuation that Arsenal have set for the player, then the next hope is that somebody else does. And after a man-of-the-match performance last night against one of the best teams in the competition, there might be one or two other sides suddenly thinking about Xhaka as an option.
He’s captain of Switzerland. He’s having a good Euro’s. He’s available for transfer and the fee that we reportedly want isn’t too steep given his experience and age. My hope is that if we’re going to lose him – which looks almost inevitable at this stage – then let’s at least do it for decent money. If Xhaka plays well it at least strengthens our hand a little bit; because if you want him, all you gotta to do is to pay his value and by the way, his performances now mean that we have three other clubs vying for his signature.
Xhaka would also be a very good player in Italy. The build up is slower, the tempo more measured, the physicality of the English Premier League just doesn’t exist. If you take away physicality from a game then you have a player like Xhaka who can run a football match like a quarter back. That is why Mourinho is so hot on Xhaka: he knows that with him at the base of his midfield he’ll be able to surround his team with pacey wide men who can spring counters and make diagonal runs from out to in where Xhaka will be able to find them.
The Italian game is tailor made for Xhaka and that’s why I hope there are suddenly a few more teams that come in for the player.
The hope is that we don’t just accept the reduced price despite his rising in stock. I saw a tweet yesterday from a journo saying that it is so very Arsenal that we could lose Xhaka for less than Liverpool sold Solanke to Bournemouth for. Now we all know there are mitigating circumstances there. An English premium, a market which was more awash with money, but at a time where we seem to be getting told big numbers for any player we are interested in, wouldn’t it be nice for us to actually get fair market price?
For example, we’re linked with Benfica’s young right back Nuno Tavares and have apparently been quoted around the €15million mark if you believe what is being read. He’s played 20 times last season in both league and Europa League. Yet we also hear that Roma are negotiating the same money for Xhaka? I accept that we need to sell and that we can’t be too picky, but Xhaka isn’t one of the ‘duds’ who we just simply have to offload, is he? He has plenty of detractors who are Arsenal fans, but you can’t convince me that he’s worse than Elneny, Guendouzi, or even Torreira (although I think Lucas is a decent player), so why are we supposedly being haggled so hard?
If we want to sell Xhaka we should just get the word out to the whole of Europe and see who bites. I’m sure there is more than one football team based in Italy’s capital who could see how much Xhaka would add to their team. So let’s start playing hardball.
That’s about it from me today. The Lokonga and White deals have gone a bit quite but that’s probably to be expected. Hopefully we’ll get some news about that soon but until then, it’s more waiting and more Euro 2020. Let’s hope tonight’s games are as fun as yesterday’s.