Well, here I am coming to you from a very sunny Portugal folks, which can only mean one thing:

Arsenal transfer signings are going to start happening. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, it just is a ‘thing’, going back to when we signed Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta in 2011. This is my ‘transfer home’ and I expect there to be some movement this week.

Alright, I admit it, there’s already one that everyone is already expecting to happen any day now with the arrival of Havertz, but my hope is that my holiday escapades will also have an effect and rub off on the Declan Rice situation, because you just feel the longer it drags on, the longer it probably plays in to Man City’s hands. Fabrizio Romano tweeted in the early hours of the morning:


So I suspect within the next few days it will all become clear. I think if this one is rejected – which it very well could be if City come in and chuck a couple of mil on top to seal the deal – then I think Arsenal will do what they did in January and look for an alternative. The problem is, when you’ve gone hot on somebody for so long, what options are out there that could be just as good? We haven’t really been linked with many other options and although we bid for Caicedo in January, that is exceedingly quiet and all the noises are that Chelsea are progressing well with getting the player. Now, of course that can change in the blink of an eye and as we saw with Mudryk in January, a team can have multiple bids, they can seem to have the playing only wanting them and everything is going in one direction, then another club just comes in at the last minute and does the deal. Could that be Arsenal in a reversal of the Mudryk situation if Rice doesn’t come off?

Maybe. But we don’t tend to be on the right end of those deals, do we? Think back. Search your memory banks. When did we swoop in and nab a player from another team at the last minute? The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Park Chu Young when he was in the process of having his medical at Lille, but then left his hotel room and headed to England to sign for us when Wenger got the call. That hardly worked out to be the best transfer of all time, did it? But if that’s the last time we did any ‘swooping for a player to take them from another club about to buy him, then you’re talking about going back 13-and-a-half years ago!

I haven’t given up on Rice by the way. I’m not throwing the towel in that we could get him, but I guess I’m just preparing myself mentally for the disappointment if it happens. And knowing that we can move quickly with other options that are already being looked at, usually by the fact the press talk about those other options, would give me a little more ease. However, I guess we were able to quickly pivot with Jorginho and Trossard in January and they both turned out to be decent buys for us.

The only thing about this, however, is that we aren’t looking for squad depth players. We’re looking for first team game changers. How many of those exist? Sure, I bet there are lots of very talented players across the globe who would come in and do an amazing job. They could be in South America, mainland Europe, etc. But any player without any experience in the Premier League is a bigger gamble than one in it and if you think about Premier League options, what else is there other than Rice or Caicedo? I had a little look on FBREF as to which players it classed as similar to Rice and this is what came up:

  • Nemanja Matić
  • Moisés Caicedo
  • Pierre Højbjerg
  • Rominigue Kouamé
  • Thomas Partey
  • Nabil Bentaleb
  • Valentin Rongiere
  • Exequiel Palacios
  • Stijn Spierings
  • Thiago Alcántara

I don’t have to tell you that there are at least two on that list with a Scum connection that we wouldn’t want to touch. There are two players who have those United and Liverpool connections and I can’t see those being anywhere on the radar. One is Caicedo who we already know about, then one already plays for us! I get that this is just a top ten, that there will be plenty of other options out there, that this is also based on data and therefore you can’t exactly compare apples with apples when you have players in the French or English leagues, but I guess for me it just hit home that we’re going to need a bit of a rabbit out of the hat if the Rice deal drags on and Caicedo truly is off the table. This is a move to eventually replace Thomas Partey and bringing in Lavia is a good idea for a succession plan, but does it work to move the needle enough to have us compete for the league again next season? Because all of the teams around us are going to strengthen and strengthen well.

Yesterday I brought you a ‘reasons to be optimistic about Rice‘ piece and I haven’t flip-flopped in the space of just 24 hours, but I guess in the back of my mind there is a bit of mental self preservation happening today, so let’s see what play’s out and hopefully in the coming days it is in our favour.

That’s me done for today. I’m going to go and get some barbeque food for later. You be safe.