Well, we’re now at T-minus six days and counting and we still:
- Have no senior back up ‘keeper to Leno who isn’t a youth team player
- Got the right back position sorted, with Bellerin’s future in the air
- Are staring down the barrel of a Xhaka/Elneny partnership for that first game of the season.
That last one worries me most of all. Not because of Xhaka, because I think he’ll do what he always does, but the problem when paired with Elneny in our midfield is that it looks like the middle of the park is made of quicksand wherever our players are. Elneny is a busy player but he gets run past, he offers little progressively, we’ve seen it all before. So in a summer in which we were promised ruthlessness, what we have is stagnation and the same as it has always been. Honestly, you could be forgiven for thinking this was 2016, Arsene Wenger was still in charge, we were still making the same mistakes we made at the end of his reign. It’s maddening to think that we’re in 2021, are already on our second manager, who incidentally was playing for us in 2016 too…
It’s frustrating and what’s worse is I’m not 100% sure who to vent my frustration towards. The easy and lazy option is to say Arteta and Edu haven’t got the job done in any way, shape or form, but the market is completely gridlocked at the moment. Unless you are a financially doped club or the recipient of cash from a financially doped club via a transfer fee, nothing is happening. Everyone wants to get over-inflated prices for their players, but nobody wants to pay market rate. So we have the situation we are in. Something’s gotta give, right?
We’ve already made our move and that was to get White in for an overly-inflated price. Now Brighton are sitting on £50million-worth of cash (I know Arsenal amortize the cost, but it’s confirmed revenue) and they need to make moves, but they’re not even budging at the moment. I guess they are looking at the market and hoping for a bit of a fire sale at clubs towards the end of the window. This is a game of transfer ‘chicken’ and it seems like nobody wants to blink.
It’s why I don’t see the Maddison deal getting done until the final days of the window, because I don’t think Leicester will budge on their valuation and I suspect they are holding out for as much cash as possible, because they’ve already spent £45million and in March they announced a £67million loss during the COVID 2019/20 season. Every club is dealing with losses though, with ours at £47million according to the figures that are floating out there. So with that in mind you can see why Leicester are keen to get as much cash as possible for Maddison because if they can get close to the £70million they want and then give the keys of the creative side of the team to Harvey Barnes, then they will be laughing.
The question has to be whether they do really need to sell though, or whether their owner will help to cover any losses himself, given that he’s got a few billion in his pocket as all Premier League owners do these days. My gut feeling is that this will become a game of ‘who blinks first and what clubs like Leicester don’t want to do is stand so firm that Arsenal just walk away and they lose the opportunity to cash in.
It’s the same with us and Willock. We have supposedly had a £22million bid which we haven’t responded to Newcastle on yet. Clearly that’s because it isn’t enough, but we can’t just dismiss them and tell them to ‘do one’ until they come back with a bigger offer, because there comes a point in which they’ll say “ok, let’s move to transfer target number two”. Arsenal need the cash as much as any other team so there is a need to get that money, but you just get the feeling we’re trying to squeeze out just that extra couple of million out of them so we can have every possible penny available to get our deals we want incoming over the line.
It does feel like a few clubs need to move soon though. The likes of West Ham have made a move to make Craig Dawson’s deal permanent for £2million, whilst getting in Areola as a back up to Fabianski. They are also a week away from the start of the season too. The only teams not at the top of the league who you’d say have properly started to move in the market in the Premier League are Palace at £45million for three players, Leicester who have spent £45million on two players and Norwich at £35million. So there hasn’t been those big outlays. Yet.
There’s some noises about how we’re going through an intermediary for Martinez but I think Inter are waiting to get the Lukaku deal done before deciding what happens there. Perhaps I should be less cynical though. If Inter get £110million for Lukaku, then also get another £70million for Martinez, then it goes some way to recouping the estimated $300million+ of losses they have suffered as a result of the pandemic.
It’s why I’m surprised they’re not having a look at Lacazette as an option for a swap deal plus cash for Martinez. I know swap deals are notoriously difficult to do, but if I was in their shoes and knew that we needed to recoup money to pay off losses, I’d probably be thinking about it. Think about it: you lose two strikers and the fans will be pretty pissed, but if you tell the fans that by losing these strikers you get £150million which sorts out a big chunk of the losses the club has sustained, then you get a striker in who got 17 goals in all competitions last season in a more challenging league, it at least gives you a decent striking option. I’m not Lacazette’s biggest fan, but I’m pretty sure he could bag 20 goals at least in Italy and if Inter get a striker who can score plus £150million, then surely it solves some of their problems, right?
Apparently they’re not even looking at that though, so it’s just a bit of a pipe dream for us, I guess.
Anyway, I’ve prattled on long enough, so I should give you some of your Saturday back from reading my waffle. Have a good one and I’ll catch you tomorrow with more musings on The Arsenal.