There was some inevitability, I suppose. It is, after all, the transfer season, a time when the life can be crushed from dreams so swiftly made. Even by those standards, Marca was brutal in the construction of its front page that put the rumour mill back to Loic Remy. No Cesc, Vela or Benzema; what will Arsène do? Who will he sign? No fear, no panic, Arsenal are working on “many fronts” according to Ivan at the Q&A session earlier this week; Arsenal will sign someone, it’s all a masterplan with feints and dummies thrown all over the place. Not quite as buoyant, and lacking the bravado of last summer; no signs of big sums of money being showered across the playing fields of Europe as decreed twelve months ago. Personally, I can’t wait until the sign at FIFA says, It’s All Over Now, which by coincidence and contrivance is the title of today’s playlist found in the right sidebar or by clicking on the link.
To be honest, I quite enjoy the speculation, it gives a sense of activity even when the names fail to excite. I can see why Remy would be a good signing in terms of the variety he would offer to Giroud, the potential partnership and in fairness to the player, he has a decent record in English football but like any new signing, that’s no guarantee of future performance; each transfer is a risk, the club has to try to minimise them.
One way to do so is to sign star players, the reason why we quite willingly delve into the ink or internet back pages each summer. Yes, it’s a rollercoaster as contract negotiations are conducted through the very pages reviled for the lies they spread. And there are some outright whoppers as well as genuine mistakes made. Or deals that fall through, some of them happen as well. Whether Arsenal are as busy as imaginations link to make-believe is another matter and that only becomes an issue when the window closes with judgements passed on the depth of quality available to the manager.
It’s not all about big-name signings; if they float your boat, Elias Chatzitheodoridis will have been orgasmic. Despite the best hopes of the retail team, you know that first XI football will mean the use of his first name on the back of his shirts for no better reason that to help the dubious pronunciation of commentators. Iker Casillas is a big name although some would argue a spent force, so much so that he is going to the World Cup with the reigning World and European champions; it’s all a matter of degrees. Having been heavily linked with the likes of Freidel and Schwarzer in the past, it’s reassuring that this summer’s model is actually a good goalkeeper, world-class even. Inevitably the mind wanders to what might have been had we signed him earlier in his career but that is for idler times.
Laurent Koscielny‘s assessment of the situation is interesting,
“We’ll need a goalkeeper, a right back, a midfielder and a striker…we need to recruit a very, very good striker“
Some are criticising Koscielny for that latter phrase but its the only caveat he placed, he didn’t demand world-class this or that. Indeed far from it, recognising the need for competition to spur Giroud on to the next level. In other words, lurking inside his compatriot is a “very, very good striker” who is entirely comfortable in his surroundings, safe in his place in the team. The unspoken danger is that complacency exists, knowing that Yaya Sanogo is the only threat to his team, underlining his comparison to the squads of rivals.
Does the manager feel the same? A hint of ruthlessness after Giroud’s indiscretions with the cup side not changing but to be honest, it’s an empty threat; in this instance a big name signing in its truest extent is needed. One who will strike the same fear into Giroud as last year’s dalliance with Gonzalo Higuain. I still marvel at the French striker’s confidence that he wasn’t threatened by the possible arrival of Suarez; in his mind, it was a partnership. That might be true to some extent, his competition in those circumstances was Sanogo. Yes, I’d still be confident in his shoes.
The issue is balance. Arsène needs to make signings that will enhance the squad, give the depth we lacked when injuries bit last season. He needs to sign the players who will provide that and not saté our appetite for spending money. Of course the two are different ways of looking at the same end-product. As I stated earlier, every signing is a risk but the higher spend offers more of an indication of the players quality; spending less mitigates the risk, there is less to lose.
Ivan waffled about juggling budgets recently and that is true but it is smoke and mirrors, as everthing is at this time of year. Yes, Arsenal have a finite budget without the fortune of a nation-state behind them. And balancing the books is all important but that doesn’t offer any excuse for not investing in the first place. It’s a case of getting it right more than anything else and hindsight is the only judge of any signing. Part of that is getting players at the club for the start of the season and that is the biggest hurdle that Arsenal face.
So Ivan, if the Dick & co are talking on many fronts, get them to talk a bit faster.