Another quiet morn as the world prepares for the final competitive fixture of the 2015/16 season. France take on Portugal and with no Arsenal interest in the latter’s squad, most will be willing the hosts to win. For the English it means forgetting centuries of enmity and blockages at Calais, which never comes easy.
France are favourites and it will be no surprise to see Portugal do exactly what Greece did to them in the final of Euro 2004. Dour defence, taking the one opportunity they have and then more dour defence with prayers to every God created by man, with more than a little luck thrown in.
To Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny: Bon chance, mes amis.
It would be good for football to have an open and high-scoring game. Defensive sides winning matches at this level doesn’t bode well for the coming season with any number of limited intellect coaches taking the easy option. We’ve already got Mourinho and Allardyce in the top flight; we don’t need any of their acolytes either.
Away from that, Arsenal have apparently rejected a move from Juventus for Alexis Sanchez. The headline screams: “ARSENAL will not sell Alexis Sanchez this summer despite Juventus submitting a bid which met the Gunners’ valuation.”
Which is curious in itself; why would Arsenal set a valuation on the player who they have no intention of selling?
Nonetheless, defying logic, the story continues, “That’s according to Juve sporting director Giuseppe Marotta, who claims the Italians were told £34million would be enough to land the Chilean – only to see their bid snubbed by Arsene Wenger.”
So, we weren’t interested in selling the player but set a valuation. That information was passed onto Juventus who acted on it only to find out that we weren’t interested in selling the player. Someone’s Mr20% is running a bit short of cash this summer or they need to keep a close eye on rivals for their client’s signature.
It’s easy for buying and selling clubs to be duped by the unscrupulous.
The club has previously rejected offers for Olivier Giroud, according to reports, which would be hardly surprising since we’re struggling to sign a striker ourselves. Sometimes misfiring is better than nothing.
Lyon have denied Arsène Wenger has contacted them over Alexandre Lacazette, which is probably true. Any bid would come from Dick Law or Ivan Gazidis so there’s nothing to read into Aulas’ statement on the subject.
The question of what constitutes a good summer’s business vexes many. Last year was accepted as the definition of bad: no outfield players and just a goalkeeper signed when more were needed. But a good summer? As much as it is signing players, retaining players is as big an issue. A good summer is striking the right balance between the two.
Keeping hold of key personnel is as important to a squad as replacing others. The problem is that we can barely agree on who those key personnel are. Some worship the ground Mesut Özil walks on, others think he’s over-rated. The same applies to Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker; in fact, the whole squad. There isn’t one player who is universally considered unsellable.
Not like Lionel Messi, he’s unsellable.
In a bizarre moment, even by football’s standard, someone at Barcelona thought it was a good idea to launch a social media campaign to let Messi know he is still loved in Catalunya. We are, according to the club, all Lionel Messi.
It’s not surprising that the club is backing tax fraud; they, after all, have been fined several times down the years for similar offences. And like Real Madrid, they were one of several Spanish clubs found guilty of receiving state aid by an EU Commissioner. It’s a way of life for the richest clubs to move money around; Tottenham are owned by ENIC out of the tax-friendly Bahamas, for example.
However, that Barcelona thought anyone would have sympathy for a convicted fraudster is simply baffling. Are we supposed to feel sympathy for a man who was conveniently given a sentence just below the two-year level which meant he avoids serving time? This is a man whose obscene wealth was inflated by tax evasion, not a legal avoidance scheme. If he felt hard done by, he only has to go down to the vaults and sleep on his piles of euros to feel better.
Football lives in a world of its own.