My whole thing about how we become so aware of transfers that by the time they actually happen, the joy of the signing isn’t as joyous as the ‘old days’, also works for players leaving too. I’ve bleated on so much about Saliba lately that when it was confirmed by Arsenal and then on Marseille’s site, I was kind of like ‘ok’ and as usual, I read every word Edu said on our website to read between the lines as to what this means for him long term. Any clues about whether they just want rid? Or anything to suggest they are saying “yep, this’ll be the last one then he’s going to get a chance”?
Not really. Very vanilla statement about how he needs it in his development and that he’s still only 20. Perhaps we can read in to that and that the hope is the plan for him to be an Arsenal player for many year’s comes in to play, but at some stage I think we might realise they’re going to Mavropanos him.
Oh well. We know the immediate future and that includes the centre halves we have at the club, plus possibly Ben White, although that seems to have gone quiet. The only plus you can infer from the deal getting done so early for Saliba is that they are pretty confident of another player coming in. Because as much as we all had a chuckle at Rob Holding shaving his head and describing himself as a ‘new signing’ on social media (Kudos to him for rejecting his receding hairline and taking matters in to his own hands by the way), we all know that when balls start getting kicked in the Premier League in a few week’s time, he should not be seen as a regular first-choice centre half at the club.
He’s a nice guy, I like his personality, he seems good for the squad and as one of our defensive options I’m fine with him. But that’s as a rotational centre half and next season there won’t be as many options for rotating the centre halves because we don’t have a minimum of six games in Europe to do so. Which means the hope has to be that we do this Ben White deal, he becomes first choice, Gabriel first choice on the left when he returns from injury, then Mari and Holding as the back ups. Chambers is also the utility man there if needed although he will also be used as a right back as well I suspect.
And if that plays out like that then I’m ok with it. It would make sense and then hopefully at the end of next season we make a positive decision on Saliba and Holding is the man who makes room as we look to further upgrade the squad. That’s how I’m playing this particular projection utopia in my head, anyway.
Moving further up the pitch and we should be hearing about the Lokonga deal soon. That’ll be one that has a few more fans a little more excited about Ceballos and whilst I am excited too, I wonder if he is the Xhaka replacement, or more likely the Ceballos one i.e. a ‘first reserve’ central midfielder. Perhaps that is the case and if so it is probably good for him too. Gives him the chance to play when players are injured, get a few minutes on as a sub, but also doesn’t heap all of the pressure on him. If that is also the case too, however, it means we can turn to Roma and tell them that we have a player in just in case they try to hit us with a deadline day sneak attack on Xhaka having not made a proper bid all summer, and still rebuff it. We all know Xhaka wants to go to Roma, he might as well have written that in permanent marker on his forehead, but we have his contract in place for two years so the hope is that Mikel tells Xhaka that he is fine to leave but only at the right price and he needs to be professional and needs to be prepared to have another season at Arsenal unless Roma put a decent bid together. £12 – £15million for a player in his peak who just got in to the Euro2020 team of the year is as derisory as they come. Imagine if we turned to Inter and told them we wanted Lukaku for £45million, half his value, then expected that they would do anything other than tell us to get on our bicicletta’s? It’s farcical. Pay around £20million, get your player who will do very well in Italy, then move on. Pay us in installments if you have to, just do the deal, Roma.
The other slightly tenuous bit of news was from a fan in Scotland who got a picture with Smith Rowe wearing a training top with ‘Number 10’ on it. I must confess I got a little excited on Twitter and hopefully it is the sign of contractual ink just needing to dry before it is announced, but Emile Smith Rowe taking up the mantel of so many of our fabulous number 10’s we’ve had over the year’s is exciting. Ozil, Wilshere, van Persie, Bergkamp, Merson, Limpar – that’s a pretty decent list it has to be said. If that is to come true then I think a lot of us would be happy. Shirt numbers might seem a little trivial to the uninitiated football fan, but they are steeped in history, popular football culture and mythology and have a real symbolic meaning to us football fans. They do to footballers too, so rocking up as Arsenal’s number 10 would be a great statement by ‘The Smith’.
This photo of course doesn’t mean anything yet. After all that youth team ‘keeper was spotted with the 32 jersey the other week and then Emile played that number against Hibs on Tuesday, so I’m not expecting ESR to play in anything other than the 32 when he gets some minutes against Rangers. I don’t think his agent would be too pleased on giving away another bit of superficial leverage either, regardless of how tenuously it could be linked to him signing a new deal.
Right, that’s me done for the day, so you be good and we’ll have a little conflab tomorrow. Might even do a pre season pre-match presser!