Being an Arsenal fan during the summer months turns you into Fox Mulder. It wasn’t how I first thought of it this morning but there’s an X-File to be opened on the club’s Transfer Window Action Team’s work. Such is their silence, you wonder if they are the victims of an alien abduction. You can make your own jokes about probes and bodily orifices.
Anyway, Mulder; there is a spell when you turn into Mulder – usually 1st July – 31st August – when you want to believe they are beavering away behind the scenes. You don’t want to morph into Skinner or Scully, becoming all cynical but it’s a tough job not to.
Any divination at all; anything. Kylian Mbappe dyed his hair blond so he must be signing for Arsenal? Do tell, do tell. Well, the sun in Madrid would naturally bleach his hair and he wouldn’t need to dye it so he’s coming to London. Yeah, didn’t think of that, did you? And Arsène was in Paris for England match…
Get down to the Armoury when the new kit is released with ‘Mbappe’ on the back. It’s a done deal.
That’s if (when) Alexis leaves. Bild reckons Bayern became Bye-rn as far as Alexis is concerned; his wage demands of £423k per week (up from £350k last week) mean only Manchester City or Chelsea can afford him.
It must be Chelsea; Alexis said he wanted to stay in one city…
There’s no doubt that it causes problems. Arsenal may genuinely not know if he is staying or going, and that does put plans into limbo. The only thing is to progress the two or three players Arsène wants to sign. Maybe they will persuade Alexis to stay? There’s a novel thought.
Run Me Down
The genuine question is whether Arsenal can afford to play the game of Chicken over his contract. Wenger made it clear he wants Alexis to see out next season but that is posturing; the decision to sell, in that scenario, is down to the board. He’s preparing for the blame game which will inevitably follow when the Chilean leaves.
It will be a signal of the club’s hierarchy individually and collectively, failing. Not delivering credible title challenges or getting to the latter stages of the Champions League comes with a price. It robs players of hope and when the money is such that their materialism is sated, they are left with the prospect of what might be.
When ‘what might be’ is the issue, clubs have problems. The issue morphs into a question of confidence in the manager, the rest of the squad, and in a minority of cases, themselves.
For Arsenal, the situation is purely financial. The cost of a new deal or the cost of letting a player of Alexis’ calibre walk away on a free transfer. There’s the hope he might move in January and bring in a fee; something is better than nothing from a financial perspective.
Whether Stan will let the club run Alexis’ contract down is the over-riding issue. If he doesn’t sanction it – and a £40m+ cash hole doesn’t sit comfortably with what we know about him – then the Chilean is gone.
There are two issues to be weighed up. If Arsenal agree to sell, control of the situation is handed to Alexis. We can’t dictate where he goes, knowing he could play out a year and then choose his destination to our detriment. Does the name Robin van Persie mean anything to you?
The key decision for Arsène and the board is also monetary. Will a £40m+ hole in cash affect this and next summer’s transfer spend? With no funding ever likely to come from Kroenke, the answer has to be ‘yes’ unless we’re planning on borrowing more. That seems unlikely given the board’s conservative financial policies.
It’s sign or sell time. While the club still has hope, they will want to avoid a confrontational approach but there comes a time when they must make a decision. With just a couple of weeks before players start returning for pre-season training, that time is fast approaching if we’re going to have a fully prepared squad, ready for the new season.