In the old B-Movies, you would expect someone to let a horrifying shriek of, “It’s alive!!!“, to the accompaniment of a farfisa; “The transfer rumour WALKKKKKKKSSSS!”
Yesterday, it was dismissed mainly on the basis that the story had its grounding in a tweet that was picked up by Metro and Daily Star hacks seeking something different, an angle that didn’t involve Wayne Rooney or Luis Suarez. By the end of the day, it had been reported in Bild that the English press were reporting an offer had been made, reports which have been downgraded to one is being made today. We’ve been here before, substitute German for Spanish and the media carousel is in full flow.
Even if a fee were agreed with Bayern Munich, hopes of signing Gustavo this week must be slim with his involvement in Brazil’s friendly against Switzerland on Wednesday night. Predictably, as soon as Arsenal’s interest was mentioned, price inflation struck with a previously reported fee of €16m rising to €21m in a matter of minutes. The Internet auction began in earnest with Napoli entering the fray. The Italians are fast becoming this Summer’s Tottenham, using the Arsenal scouting network to find their signings.
In the background, Luis Suarez sat nervously biting his lip – giving himself a six-match suspension in the process – and making a mockery of David Brent by letting it be known he would not apologise and that he still felt betrayed by Liverpool. As much as Arsène could bluster about the club respecting Liverpool, Suarez is the one now who must force the move through. That, to me, is the only way something is going to happen in this respect.
With hindsight, the bid of £40m+£1 was a crass move, one where a serious misjudgment was made on the part of the club. Irrespective of the legal advice received, that bid, the amount, was designed to antagonise Liverpool and it did so, the vehemence of their reaction a testimony to that. Arsène may have spoken about respect but to bid £1 more than a supposed release clause was anything but respectful. Little wonder than John Henry has been irascible in the media in recent weeks. There is no doubt in my mind that this is posturing, extracting a third bid from Arsenal that gets close to or exceeds the £50m mark that has been floated by Liverpudlian sources on several occasions. Perhaps Arsenal could bid £50m+£1 just to make a point? Whether the club will is the key factor.
Wenger has made a virtue out of achieving value for money but the sums involved could be recouped with increased prize money over the course of his contract. There would be a certain symmetry in action were Arsenal to break the British transfer record. When Samuel Hill-Wood became Chairman in 1929, David Jack’s purchase from Bolton cost the club £10,890 having almost doubled the fee paid by Sunderland for Bob Kelly. No such increase this time but a new chairman’s reign after the end of the Hill-Wood family’s involvement in the club, seems likely to begin with a new record if this deal is to go through.
The Summer has laid the club open to criticism about a lack of a plan when it comes to strengthening the squad. The concerted and coordinated effort in selling has not been matched for purchases. It has been strange to see the targets evolve in an upward direction; Suarez is an upgrade on Higuain, himself an improvement on Jovetic, to me at least. The midfield is a similar path; Capoue was better than Barry but Gustavo one higher. It is a strange flow and totally unexpected. Perhaps the club have been surprised to find that the deluxe models have been available; maybe they didn’t aim high enough in the beginning but this tag of no coherent plan is going to be harder to shake off than the Old Trafford inspired Trolley Dash. The club haven’t managed to do that and this one could well dog Arsène and Ivan for some time yet.
Whilst cash is not the transfer budget, Swiss Ramble gives his view on the cash and its use at Arsenal in an excellent article this morning.