So it looks like the wheels are finally turning when it comes to Arsenal’s transfer business. Yesterday evening, as the weekend beckoned, we got the social media call from The Ornacle that Arsenal had agreed a deal to sign Ben White from Brighton for roughly around £50million or thereabouts. It’s a heck of a lot of money for a player who was plying his trade in the lower divisions just a couple of seasons ago, but his ascent has been rapid and to me this feels like Arteta’s John Stones. You know, when Stones came from Barnsley, had a couple of good seasons at Everton, then was suddenly a big money purchase. This feels very similar to me, but quite how Arsenal are funding this deal is a little bit of a surprise, given that we still need to sort out Lokonga, as well as probably a Xhaka replacement, another ‘keeper, a Hector replacement, plus a playmaker. Maybe Arsenal are so invested in Arteta that they are going in to the red a bit because they believe with a few of the right additions he can turn the club around.
And hey, after spending the best part of last season saying it wasn’t his team, that he’d need time and that he’d need to be back in the transfer market this summer, this arrival – assuming it all goes through – does show an element of the club looking to put their money where their mouth is. Or somebody else’s money where there mouth is, anyway. So if/when this happens I will be pleased that we have what appears to be a good, young, ball-playing and confident centre half who alongside Gabriel might just form some sort of partnership that doesn’t feel as limited as some of the partnerships we had last season.
If Ornstein is tweeting it though it is practically there in terms of the two clubs and these days that is the hardest part. We’ve all heard and read so much about how transfers really work, i.e. that the deals are done with the player and all parties before the clubs actually submit a fee, so one would expect that Ben White’s contract and a medical will probably happen sooner rather than later. I’m sure Arteta will be asked about it today either before or after the game against Rangers, which of course has become a massive distraction from the transfer news!
He’ll probably be asked about Lokonga too and by the sound of it that’s just a matter of when the club and the PR team decide to announce it. Yesterday was Arsenal home kit launch day and so that was the focus so the club could drive as much ‘#Content’ as possible out of a kit launch, so it feels like they’ll probably ‘announce Lokonga’ soon. In fact, if I was a betting man, I’d stake a pound on it being tomorrow or probably more likely Monday. Today there’s the Rangers game which will be more of the focus, then they’ll be busting out more #Content on that game over tomorrow too, then on Monday it’ll be an announcement, just to keep momentum going. By the time you’ve milked that for a couple of days you are getting in to Wednesday/Thursday and then if Arsenal and Brighton have reached an agreement, we’ll get noises of Ben White’s medical, etc, etc.
It’s not a difficult script to predict.
And now I’ve said that you just know it won’t happen that way 😉 My favourite ‘Chris calling it wrong’ moment was when we signed Podolski. I remember the day (or might have been the day before) we announced him, I said it probably wouldn’t happen, or at least be announced, while the window was still closed. Then the footballing karma gods decided to stick two fingers up to me and it was on the official site. Much like when I predict a player has been useless in a game and he bags one top bins a minute later, my penchant for getting things horrendously wrong when it comes to The Arsenal stretches all kinds of Arsenal-related news.
As for the real news for the day, that is indeed the game at home to Rangers. They’ve always been my preferential choice in the Scottish Premier League, I think because of the Arsenal connection we’ve had with them over the years, so I’m quite looking forward to this game. It starts at 2pm and I think we’ll see the same as in the Hibs game i.e. a smattering of youth, some first team players and an obese Willian waddling around trying to convince other football clubs that he is worth a six figure salary per week.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Tavares gets on, as he’s been pictured in training and so I suspect he’ll get some minutes. We might also see Tierney too. I bet he’d love to have a game against the old enemy from his perspective. Other than that I think it’ll be similar to the game on Tuesday. Suspect we’ll get to see Smith Rowe – no doubt keeping cards close to the chest by playing in the number 32 shirt – as well as Partey, Elneny, Mari, Holding, Bellerin, Lacazette, Pepe and probably Aubameyang too. I want to have a close look at Pepe though. He finished the season strongly and he’s started pre season from the off this time around. That will hopefully stand him in good stead for the start of the season so I’ll be intrigued to see if he can continue his good form from the end of last season. We certainly need it when you think about those opening six or so matches.
It’s a 2pm kick off and it’ll be a scorcher today, so I’m looking forward to firing up my laptop in the back garden and cracking open a bottle of Portuguese Super Bock, pretending I’m in the Algarve watching it on the terrace.
Have a good one and I might catch you tomorrow. Got a few lads over for a BBQ this evening so could be a messy one, which may mean I see you on Monday!