Morning folks! How we all doing?
I spent the weekend in the home of Mikel Arteta – San Sebastian – and I gotta tell you I’ve come back a few pounds heavier than before! Hopefully all of this heatwave we’re experiencing at the moment in the UK will help to de-bloatify me, because my body is going to need a solid two weeks of purging to get me back to a decent fighting weight.
And in that time what has happened? Not a massive lot. I mean, we did play a friendly on Friday and I watched some of the highlights of the game whilst I was waiting for the Management to get changed on Friday evening. A creamer from Elneny and that new kid we’ve just signed looked alright, bagging two goals and generally looking like a proper striker and not one that huffs and puffs around the pitch looking like they’re knackered after 30 minutes.
I’m so genuinely excited to see just how much difference Gabriel Jesus can make for us next season. His movement, his running power, the way he links with others, the lot. Last season there was far too much made of Lacazette and his link play, but I have a good feeling that we are going to realise just how short changed we were on him as a striker when we get a few games out of Gabriel Jesus. I know it was only a friendly and we have evidence in our history of players doing well in pre season only to become massive flops (Gervinho scoring two on his friendly debut against Cologne in 2011, anyone?), but at least with Gabriel Jesus we have a guy who has the experience of the Premier League, knows what it takes to score goals and hopefully his touch is a little better than a certain Ivorian who also impressed in pre season 11 years ago.
Most of the other news that emerged yesterday seemed to centre around players returning and we got plenty of training ground pictures of players returning from their holidays and starting the process of re-tuning their bodies to be ready for the Premier League start in a month. I tell you one thing now, after I’ve been away for two weeks on holiday, the last thing I’d want is to be a professional footballer. I’d be in a heap of trouble. Think Willian returning from his holiday last summer. Yep, that’d be me. I wonder what the condition the players are in? They probably all do plenty of exercise on their holidays anyway because they don’t want to make life too hard for themselves when they return to pre season training. That would seem eminently sensible. But when I go on holiday all I’m thinking of is how much white wine Rioja I can consume within my lunchtime meal.
But by the looks of the pictures they’ve all come back looking trim and hopefully those guys won’t have to go through the purging I have to do right now, which will result in 10.30am extreme hunger pains for the next 48 hours, as my body wonders why it is not being fed a mountain of lovely food by mid morning!
There was also lots of chatter about William Saliba yesterday, as noise filtered through online that he’s signed a new extension to his deal and he’ll be part of the team for the coming season. And a big statement of that was not only that his picture was one of the big pics the club tweeted out, but also the fact that he’s rumoured to be taking the number two jersey, so people are saying. That is a big comment on a player who has a lot of hype around him to get such a low number. I know you can’t read in to squad numbers too much, but you don’t get a single digit number offered to you if you’re going to play half a dozen times in the season. Arteta has been clear that he wants him back, the player has said he wants to come back and show what he can do and from a fans perspective, it is much needed depth in our team and I for one am very excited about it.
Quite what this means for Hector Bellerin, well, I think we can all guess. It is a very clear display that the player himself is going to be moving on this summer and the details just need to be ironed out. He wants Betis, they want him, but clearly not enough to put down what his value is, probably because they think that Arsenal are an easy club to buy from. Let’s remind ourselves that Betis have pleaded poverty, but have spent £16million this season, including £9million for Willian Jose and £7million for Luiz Henrique. Arsenal will not be wanting more than that I don’t think, so the idea that Betis are trying to get him for basically nothing is a bit of a joke. The noises about Atletico Madrid wanting him are handy; any kind of competition will force Betis to stump up something if they want him to join. I bet if any team came along with £5million-£10million+ we’d let a player who has been a great servant to the club go. It would probably be under his market value (and certainly if you put any stock in Transfmarkt it is), but we let Nacho go after great service and so Hector we could let go too. But we aren’t a charity and we should get some coin for him.
We’ll get some from Leno, who is supposedly edging towards Fulham for £10million, so we’ll get some from Bellerin and hopefully that will help to fund that additional midfielder we’re all hoping for this summer. Maybe it won’t come until August, but hopefully it will eventually turn up on our doorstep.
There’s still some more selling to be done, with the likes of Torriera also returning to London Colney to train, but again he’ll most likely be out of the door when somebody stumps up the cash. Until then, these players need to keep training, keep working hard, go out to America and get friendly minutes. We may all know that they have one foot out the door, but we have to be prepared to show the footballing world that we will use these players if we don’t get adequate money offered for them.
That’s about it from me today. I might do a little more on William Saliba if this new contract is announced by the club today. But if not, I’ll catch you tomorrow with some other musings of some kind.