Arsene has been busy in the transfer market according to the media without actually signing anyone but never let that stop a journalist from conjuring up a half-baked story. It is not as if they were new ones either, Obafami Martins from Newcastle (but he is not leaving said Kevin Keegan en route to the Blaydon Races) and Yaya Toure from Barcelona perhaps before Guardiola takes over, maybe not ever. The former was heavily touted as Henry’s replacement – if he was not considered right for the job then why now? – whilst the latter has been arriving at the club for about the last three years, linked by blood with either sibling pushing the case for Arsene signing Yaya at any given point in respective transfer windows.
Taking both players, Toure seems a more natural fit into the current set-up than Martins. There is to my mind a more urgent need for a defensive midfielder who has an awareness of the responsibilities of playing for a big club. Whilst Martins knows the English game, he would not be my first choice as a striker if Arsene were to buy a player in that position who is currently plying his trade here. My preferred option would be Santa Cruz at Blackburn on the basis that he seems to be a more intelligent player. That observaton may be wrong and unfair to Martins. However, the biggest drawback is the suggestion that he is a scorer of spectacular goals rather than having a spectacular scoring record.
Aha, big fella, you cry; how does Arsene afford this? How about one Toure = a Hleb plus £2.5m and a Martins is £8m. Net spend is £5.5m leaving room for a Ben Arfa and a Dunne if that takes your fancy although unbelievably he is now linked with West Ham at £6m. Or one Toure = a Hleb plus £2.5m with Santa Cruz in at a starter for £10m, leaving room in a £25m budget for a Ben Arfa. Throw in a Senderos to Blackburn at £2.5m and there is still a decent sum to buy you a foreign centre-back. Increase Arsene’s pocket money by £10m and there is enough change for a Richards and a bag of Humbugs, which is perhaps an apt place to leave the suggestion that I am getting the hang of this transfer rumour malarkey.
Recent news has not seemed to be positive as Arsene noted a couple of days ago. Since last Friday though Emmanuel Adebayor has been forthright in commiting his immediate future to the club, once more repeating his denials of wanting a move. Well, wanting a move right now. Football has moved well away from the previous culture of players staying at one club for more than three to five years. That is not to say that all players seek a move every couple of seasons, the vast majority do not but the footballing workplace is becoming more akin to ‘normal’ working life amongst that age group where progression is sought albeit at a heightened and more mercenary rate.
Patrick Vieira has come in for some criticism over his comments about the perils of the squad disbanding. Whether the former Arsenal captain should have said those things is a matter of personal opinion. I do not see anything wrong in him voicing them, he has played for the club and understands the pressures that the frankly absurd quantities of money offered by other clubs bring. Heightened feelings at this moment in time given the departure of Flamini and the uncertainty over Alexander Hleb’s future are making supporters more sensitive to criticism. If people stood back for one second and ignored the headline grabbing sentences, they would see that what Vieira is saying is no different from any of the rest of us,
If they start losing players like that it could be a worrying time for Arsenal. I think it is important for the team to stay together. They would benefit from staying together and playing together for longer. They are a young team and they must stay together if they are to be better than last season. I think they need experience – one or more players. They lost crucial games this season, maybe down to a lack of experience among the players. I don’t believe Arsene Wenger should buy stars. I think the way they are is fantastic. Maybe they need one or two players that have experience at the key moments.
Indeed, he is more in line with Arsene’s thinking than some of the speculation at the moment. Stars are fine and dandy but not necessarily the solution; experience is the key as well as continuing to build for the future. The money that Arsenal can offer is not as much as the bigger clubs but recent financial decisions preclude that. How long the ‘straitjacket’ is kept on for remains to be seen. Prize money can make a difference but as Robin van Persie observed, winning and winning in style counts for a lot. If trophies follow that can to a certain extent offset any financial shortfall for a player. Arsene’s methodology has given the club a foundation upon which a successful future can be built. The season just ended has shown that hope is not misplaced; delivery in the short-term is now equally as important to ensure the longer term.
Off the pitch, Stan Kroenke is being used to buttress the board against Alisher Usmanov even if there is too much emphasis being placed upon signing a marketing agreement, a totally different kettle of fish to a non-sale agreement. Whilst it is an indication of Kroenke’s commerical confidence in his enterprises and their relationship with Arsenal, he will be pragmatic and if a buyer came in for the club with a plan that suited him, he might not be so supportive of the current board. Oh and there is ‘transfer’ speculation about whether it will be the Brady Bunch or Harrods who occupy Edelman’s seat in the boardroom next season.
And as we have come full circle with speculation topping and tailing the middle bit, it seems a fine time to draw a line under today’s post. I’m off to see The Charlatans tonight so enjoy your day because I am going to enjoy mine. ’til Tomorrow.