First and foremost – congrats to Bukayo Saka for being named the England men’s player of the year for the second year running. It is an award that relates to the national team and so for me personally, I haven’t paid too much attention to it, but kudos to him for picking up another award and it is certainly one that is justified. His start to the season hasn’t been too great by his standards, but those standards are so high that let’s be honest, he’s still bagging goals and assists and so we can all be happy that he’s contributing.
So, what else is happening in the Arsenal universe, eh? Well not a lot really given the players are all going away on international duty, but over the weekend and on Monday I did see some stuff about Nicolas Pepe being on the verge of sealing a deal to Besiktas for £2million plus another potential £6million in bonuses. Apparently the Turkish transfer window closes on 15th September, so there is still time for him to make the move and I guess from Besiktas’ perspective that is worth a punt. The guy was a £72million transfer four years ago and now they could have a go at a couple of million and I suspect given his options it is not as if he’ll be able to command a mega salary. It’s a sad and sorry fall from grace for a player who promised so much when he arrived, did still deliver some goals and assists, but I think at the end of the day he was reliant on being a confidence player and when that got shot it really affected him. I’m sure you – like me – have heard the stories of how he is a quiet lad, quite unassuming on the training ground and even when he played at the Emirates or away from home he always seemed a little reserved in my eyes. His finishing technique was brilliant but he just didn’t have the all round game to succeed at The Arsenal and probably in English football in general. If/when he goes, hopefully he can pick up his career in the Turkish Super Lig.
There’s a few other things to pick out of this saga too I think. Firstly, the last of the former ‘Don Roaul’ era will soon be gone and with it a period of our history in which we moved away from our values, got in to bed with the wrong kinds of agents and lined a few people’s pockets at our expense (allegedly). It will not be remembered as a great period for us and thankfully this new regime is delivering much more enjoyable experiences for us Arsenal fans.
The only question mark that remains, however, is our ability to sell. Because £2million for a player who was £72million four year’s ago ain’t great. £1million for an experienced Premier League centre half joining another Premier League side in Rob Holding to Palace, isn’t great. And the rod has been made for our own backs when we have shown we are happy to just take contract pay outs and dish them out to players who don’t want to leave. That too, isn’t great. There is more that needs to be done on the selling front.
It’s kind of a damming indictment on the whole scenario that when I heard that news I was actually pleased at first. I was just expecting the usual contract termination announcement, so the fact we’re actually getting some cash feels like a bonus.
“But why should you care? It’s not YOUR money, is it?” is a common retort I hear. And yes, that indeed is true, but equally we are not a club who has traditionally been one that has been sugar-daddy funded and has a bottomless pit of cash. Sure, we have seen investment in the club in recent years, but I don’t think any sensible Gooner believes that this investment is infinite. Arsenal have always focused on its self-sustaining model and one of the ways you do that is by recouping money for players who have transfer values. That hasn’t really happened to any degree of success thus far and as a result it always feels like we could be a transfer window away from all of the purse strings being tightened. Therefore we need to up our ante when it comes to transfer outgoings and that is the final hurdle Edu has to overcome before most fans will hold our hands up and say “fair play, you’ve got this nailed”.
Hey, right now though, this is a small footnote, because we have a team that we all like, a squad of players who arte all improving, we’ve just beaten a ‘rival’ on our own turf with a last-gasp winner, plus a manager who feels like he is going places. It’s a fun place to be in the Arsenal world and although there are a few question marks that remain, by and large I think most of the fanbase are more than happy with our lot right now.
There’s not really a lot else on at the moment so I’ll put a pin in today’s musings and join you again tomorrow for more of whatever is in my head.
Have a good one.