Whichever way you cut, the image of Sepp Blatter as a dancer in the Rio Carnival is disturbing.
So to Arsenal and the ongoing Higuain Affair. The stage at which the deal is at depends largely on who you choose to believe, or more likely if. According to reports at the weekend, Arsenal were in Spain but rather than applying the Factor 30, met with Real officials to finalise a deal to take Gonzalo Higuain from the Bernabeu to North London. Papa Higuain confirmed negotiations were at an advanced stage in Marca but Radio Cadena declared the Argentine striker was having a medical today when the deal will be sealed. Which deal is open to debate; is Papa telling the truth about Juventus still being a player in this market and more importantly, if they are, why haven’t either club been able to strike a deal with his current employers? The theme from Soap is beginning to start.
Cynicism abounds at this time of year with previous views about the club hard to shake. It’s like a lonely hearts ad: tough negotiating stance seeks value for money for long-term relationship. My name is Dick but you can call me Al. The public spiel is that Madrid do not have a new manager yet so no deal can be done but they can sign Isco? Florentino Perez has insisted that finalising a deal will happen only when Higuain can be found, turning the Bernabeu into a massive game of Where’s Wally? Arsenal are at an immediate disadvantage with Dick Law trying to work out why Waldo got sacked on the flight over from the States. Still, £22m is a lot of money for someone’s cast-off.
Tony Adams comments in this morning’s media simply carry on from yesterday, presumably the initial plan from the media. I cannot see Arsenal signing both the Argentine and Rooney, despite claims of the latter being the midfield foil for the former. The most telling story emerging in recent days was of a new contract being sought, this Summer simply repeating the cycle of a few years back. Were Team Rooney seeking to take advantage of the vacuüm at Old Trafford between Ferguson’s departure and Moyes’ arrival? From the Arsenal perspective, there seems little basis in reality of two players coming in and taking the majority of the savings achieved by releasing players earlier this month, particularly as one of those would be almost double that of the other which is more of an issue than the bright lights of London.
More worrying than any of that is the wormhole that Nacho Monreal found himself in mid-interview with Marca. Talking about his first season at Arsenal, the Spaniard observed that three and a half months on from his move from Malaga, he thinks he has settled and done well. Which he has. Mulder and Scully resolved the issue by reading the Spanish version and seeing that no mention was made of December at all, so as you were.
This season will be interesting to watch. Arsène has a choice to make between Gibbs and Monreal. The two left-backs bring different solutions to the team, Gibbs more attack-minded with Monreal more defensively assured. Neither of them is a slouch in the other’s strongest area and it depends on Arsène’s view on the balance of the team as to whom he starts with. However, it cannot be beneficial is he becomes Greenwood-esque in his decision, the England manager never able to settle on Shilton or Clemence as his first choice goalkeeper ending up alternating them on a game-by-game basis. The defence benefitted from being settled during the run-in, changes kept to necessity and the results begat the reward. That certainty needs to continue, especially as right back is more of an issue with Sagna’s Arsenal career entering its final phase and Jenkinson reaching the point where he begins to take over from the Frenchman.
Injuries and suspensions will influence the choice in either position, forcing Wenger’s hand but whilst I expect Sagna to start the season on the right, the choice between Gibbs and Monreal is much harder.