I do have to chuckle at Man United fans you know. I start off today’s Arsenal musings with a smile in relation to the Manc’s, because there are a fair few of them crowing that they are buying Varane for £34million plus some add ons, as well as Sancho for £73million, then comparing that to Pepe and Ben White who will eventually cost Arsenal £125million when the White deal is done. Ha! Yeah, that’s how it works of course, randomly and arbitrarily picking two transfers at two points in time and comparing them for value. A bit like how we got Sol Campbell for free and then Cesc Fabregas for free, eh? We’ll also ignore the fact they spent £30million on Lindelof, £30million on Bailly, as well as £85million on Maguire, shall we?
Some transfers are cheap, some are expensive, whatever. The only reason us Arsenal fans get so concerned with them is because we know that with our owner who doesn’t put a bean in himself, we have to be a self-funding club, which is why despite us spending money we don’t have this summer we all know it is probably through a loan that we have to pay back.
Which is also why we’re all a little concerned about what happens next after Ben White. Assuming the deal gets done this week, we’ve dropped around £75million on players and probably only one of them is dropping straight in to the first team in White. It doesn’t really move the needle enough for us to start looking upwards and getting excited about the possibility of catching the likes of City, Liverpool and Chelski. It’s why we are hoping for some kind of under-the-radar series of swoops that will offer value and have us believing that we can have a good season this upcoming one. Which of course starts in less than three week’s and that’s also why we’re all getting a little antsy.
The outgoings too, don’t exactly make for an easing of the concern. For the first time this summer I saw a rumour about Atletico Madrid being interested in Lacazette for £13million and whilst that’s pretty low for a guy who was our…ehem…’top scorer’ last season, I do wonder if we got closer to £15million then you’d probably say take it and look for other options. Not Tammy Abraham at an extortionate £40million, but maybe somebody from mainland Europe who would be just as good and cost about £15million less because he doesn’t have a UK passport, perhaps?
We do need to start hearing an intensifying of those outgoing rumours though. The squad is looking rather bloated again unless we do something. On the official site we have 28 players listed as in the first team. Premier League rules – as we know from last season – state that we can only have 25 players and 17 are not classed as ‘home grown’. By my reckoning we currently have 11 ‘home grown’ players, with 17 ‘non home grown’ on the books. So as it stands we are not registering three players.
So before we even start to worry about new signings – of which White would bring us up to 29 players, we need to offload four and do it pretty sharply.
And other clubs know this, which is why I am not expecting clubs to drop a ton of money on our laps for the likes of Torreira, Kolasinac, Cedric or Willian, for example. But we should be looking at homes for all of those players. Especially if we want to see more new faces. The talk of Xhaka moving on have stalled and for any of the above players mentioned we seem to have no real interest, so it shows you just how difficult our situation could become in a very short period of time.
If I was to go with gut feel I would say that the only way we’re losing Willian is if we give him a chunk of change that offsets his wages, then let him move to another club who pay a smaller chunk and get him on a free. For Torreira I suspect we’ll get some late movement but it’ll end up being some kind of a loan deal to get him off the books. There seems to be no interest in Kolasinac so I suspect that’ll be another one we’ll pay to leave, then Cedric will probably end up staying and hopefully playing minimal game time this season.
Runarsson is the other one that is due to exit on his way to Turkey and that makes sense for all involved. It’s why you can understand Arsenal’s interest in an English stopper to battle with Leno and why the Ramsdale stuff isn’t going away. But with noises that Sam Johnstone is available for £12million, I don’t know why we wouldn’t just have a go at that. It would also free up an additional space for an overseas player to come in outfield. I’m not keen on an over-inflated price on Ramsdale, but Johnstone seemed a decent ‘keeper and whilst £12million for a back up isn’t exactly peanuts, it carries less risk with it and would mean we can allow ourselves more time to look for another overseas player option outfield, perhaps to replace a Bellerin, Xhaka or even Lacazette if he goes.
Regardless of how it plays out, we do need to sort our sh*t out pretty sharpish. Nobody wants us to go in to that Brentford game with feeling like it’ll be more of the same as last season. The good news is that with less games and certainly improving form in the back end of last season, we can at least make a better fist of being competitive, but right now it doesn’t feel like we’re a top four side to me. Certainly we’re better than the eighth place we showed, but we should be thinking that we have a chance at top four, not just that if we have a good season we might get top six. That’s kind of where we stand at the moment. In my eyes, anyway.
Let’s see though. As we’ve seen season after season with The Arsenal, sometimes transfers can seem to take week’s or even months to sort, yet some times they just seem to happen with a click of the fingers.
I really do not think this season there is any chance of a top 4 – Liverpool, City, Utd and Chelsea are far ahead of us so in my mind – being competitive, less error prone and fight like crazy for the 5th or 6th positions is the best for which we can realistically hope.
My understanding of the squad rules is that you can have unlimited u21 players on top of the squad of 25. So the likes of Saka, ESR, Balogun don’t count towards the quota. Therefore we are in a decent position.