After what has been a lovely ol’ bank holiday weekend spent playing some golf and doing a bit of family time, I find myself rather relaxed and happy on this Sunday morn that I write to you. I’ve played a bit of golf this weekend, had a couple of barbeques and barely looked at Twitter or football stuff, save for the odd check in between being with family and writing my habitual morning blog. It’s quite nice. I didn’t even realise that there was an England game on, which is just as well because by the sounds of it there wasn’t exactly a classic encounter that unfolded.
International matches like the ones these weekend are always pointless in my opinion, but with enough time to elapse before the start of next season, they have even less of a meaning, because as long as there isn’t an Arsenal player picking up some kind of mega injury that keeps them out for the year, I’m not even stressing about injury to our players. So for me it has been a nice, footballess weekend, with just the occasional check to see what is happening from a potential transfer perspective. But even that I’m a little ‘meh’ about, because we still have so much left of the window, so I won’t start to get pissy until at least 1st July. That means a solid three weeks of “it’s fine, no worries, it’ll get done when it gets done” type stuff from me. I hope, anyway.
What does start to get a bit boring though, is when there is a repetition on ‘new takes’ by the media on what is essentially the same transfer. The Gabriel Jesus stuff already has the whiff of it, doesn’t it? I mean, you’re seeing this too, right? The whole “the salary package will be x” one day, followed by “Man City want y” the next day. That’s followed up by “The player has spoken to Arteta and Edu and likes the project”, which is shortly followed by “the player has been speaking to his Man City colleagues about the move”. It’s all just spurious Chinese whispers that escalate because every journo wants to be able to bring something a little different. Everyone is looking for their ‘EXCLUSIVE’ and that feeds information that is basically made up half the time.
Then there’s the Saliba news which keeps rumbling on. But maybe for not much longer. It has been rumbling on because of what various media outlets – England and France – have said about Marseille’s interest, but if you look at what has come from the mouths of those parties involved, it has been less clear. From Arteta’s side he was pretty clear a couple of weeks back. He said he “has to come back back” and was talking about how good the loan spell has been. Arteta’s comments were pretty black and white and from his side it has been obvious. Perhaps from Saliba’s side it has been a little different, but we have to take it in the context with which he has been in a footballing hotbed of the south of France all season. He’s had multiple microphones shoved in his face all looking for any interpretation and spin they can put on it. Where they’ve been able to twist, they have. And if I’m in his shoes you don’t want to alienate the fans of Marseille so why wouldn’t you leave them dangling with a “I love it here. The fans are amazing” type stuff. I would if I was in his shoes. So I’m not really surprised by some of the stuff that has come directly from source rather than journo hearsay.
And as I write this the player has only just spoken and, if I’m honest with you, I am glad it was not the sensationalist nonsense that so many people thought it might be. He simply said that he is an Arsenal player, he has two years on his contract and he wants to return to The Arsenal. He said that he wants to show what he is capable of and play for the Arsenal fans and as far as definitive answers go, it’s as much as you could hope for. Aside from him saying “I am an Arsenal player and I will sign a new deal” which would be lovely, this is the best news we could hope for. We need to see what Saliba can do in an Arsenal shirt and if he joins the club in pre season and impresses, Arteta will give him minutes. It’s as simple as that and now it is on Saliba to show us what he is made of.
There is such a hyper around this guy, that I just hope the expectation isn’t too much because he’s a young lad who has just had a very good season in an inferior league. He’ll need time to adapt, to step up and show us just how good he is. I think his physical attributes are such that he should be a good match for the Premier League, but we’ll need to see whether that really does translate when he steps out on to the pitch as an Arsenal player for the first time next season.
It’s good for us too. We have White, Gabriel, Saliba and Holding who can all play in that position and that means that we have cover. Tomiyasu needs another man instead of Cedric to cover him and if talk of Tavares going on loan is true then we’ll need another left back. But the arrival of Saliba hopefully means we don’t have any instances like the end of last season when we simply ran out of players and had to field half fit centre halves. The challenge will be for Arteta to make sure he rotates the team appropriately and that’s one I know we all have our eyes on.
But that’s something we’ll start to see being played out in August and not now. He’ll get minutes in the first team as they all work through pre season and so we’ll start to see bits, but that’s about it. Hopefully he does well enough and is ready for the new season. “Like a new signing” as a certain French Arsenal manager used to say.
Anyway, time for me to go and do some shopping. Have a good one and I’ll catch thee tomorrow.