OK, so just the small matter of Alexis’ contract this morning. According to Flip-Flop Cross, he’s off to Bayern for £40m, becoming their highest-paid player in the process. £350k per week since you’re asking.
All of which is plausible, if you believe that kind of story.
We know the Alexis situation is the biggest problem facing Arsenal this summer and it will set the tone for the next couple of years. Ivan’s words about competing with Bayern Munich are once again coming back to haunt him.
While keeping a player of Mesut Özil’s quality is important, keeping Alexis is vital. He is the attacking fulcrum of the side and effectively requires two players to replace him; one for the left, one for the goals. Please don’t try to tell me Giroud or Walcott will perform either of those roles.
While we have options for the notionally left side of attack in the 3-4-2-1 formation, none are convincing in front of goal. It’s the football utopia; a free-scoring striker and two or three midfielders who chip in with 10+ league goals per season.
Mesut Özil could grab more goals; we’ve seen how good his finishing is but like Robert Pires, he finds more satisfaction in the creative side of the game than scoring. That’s the way some players are and there’s not a great deal the manager can do to change that situation quickly.
Which heaps a lot of pressure on him in terms of being ready with a replacement before selling. Which may or may not be the thinking behind the recent trip to the south of France; we’ll find out soon enough whether it’s a new addition to the first team squad or the ‘nearly signed’ squad.
Give Us A Sign
Alexis, at the Confederations Cup with Chile, made it plain that for the moment, the situation is in the hands of his agent. You can read into that what you want. It could mean the issue is just about cash but that seems too simplistic.
If that is the situation, then it’s a lot better than being about football. If winning trophies is the objective, we’re screwed when it comes to the Champions League.
Few believe wholeheartedly that Alexis will stay. Most of us lean toward a departure and there’s been precious little to hang your hat on as far as remaining is concerned. We could be pleasantly surprised; the past twelve months revealed a topsy-turvy world with Brexit, Trump and last night’s UK election result. The improbable is possible.
However, if he is leaving, it puts Arsène in a bind, both with the squad and PR-wise. It’s not the sort of start he wants to a new two-year term and unless things go blindingly well, it’s likely to see the discontent resurfacing.
Equally, it presents the club as having taken a huge backward step. We’d be back to the summer when Cesc and Nasri left to win trophies while we stumbled along searching for nothing more than a top four place. Those days are supposed to be behind us.
We can’t even call on Yaya Sanogo; he’s one of four players released by the club this month. Things must be bad if he’s decided to leave. *
He’s Not Alexis, He’s Just A Very Naughty Boy
There are some things the club gets right before you think this is just another opportunity to bash them. A very big one is their treatment of injured players. Think Santi, Tomas Rosicky, Per, Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta. Compare that to how Manchester United have released Zlatan this summer.
Financially, it makes sense for them and the player won’t suffer any hardship in that sense. However, the decision is morally questionable – and yes, I know that most things in football are morally questionable.
However, leaving the player high and dry to recuperate from a serious injury isn’t something I find admirable in a club. Sentimentality, they will argue, doesn’t win silverware but it strikes me as a very ‘Mourinho’ type of thing to do: you’re no use to me so leave. That’s the public image of the man, and typically there are plenty who point you in the opposite direction for the private individual.
Sometimes, it’s the small things, the conduct which gives you hope that inside the cash cow, the beating heart of Arsenal FC hasn’t quite given up the ghost.
Waiting On A Song
Finally, this week’s Record of the Week on Dad’s Jukebox is Dan Auerbach’s Waiting on a Song is here. And, I’ve got to say, it’s utterly brilliant. Take time to listen and enjoy.
* Yes, I know he didn’t decide to leave…