Arsenal X-Files & Alexis

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?

Hole-y Moly

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.

’til Tomorrow.

46 thoughts on “Arsenal X-Files & Alexis

  1. Good stuff Yogi.

    I actually like this part as an Arsenal supporter, though I know how it has gone the past couple of summers, I still remain hopefull (Mbappe is a pipe dream and I would rather focus on Lacazette and Dembele from Celtic) something will good will happen, it has too.

    Sanchez, well unlike most I think he will stay BUT if he does leave it will be down to lack of summer movement thus it falls on Arsene as it has been well documented the transfer business falls squarely on his shoulder.

  2. Watching mbappe the other night i think at the minute he is notbworth the money, individuals 0, team 1, thats also why im happy to see sanchez go, anywhere

  3. I do find it quite funny that a number of the stories linking us with Lacazette, Mbappe and even Lemar, has Giroud being the make weight amid reports that Arsene has told Giroud he wouldn’t block him leaving.

  4. C,

    I think the most significant issue for Giroud will be playing time, as he is still high up in the pecking order for the French national team but would likely slide if he were to continue in an impact sub role. I think the money is not a major issue with Alexis now, as it sounds like we are offering him enough money to stay, it’s about ambition. Some quality signings would hopefully convince Alexis that the club have the ambition to match his, but my feeling is that the players mentioned are being lined up as replacements for Alexis, not to play alongside him. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Board sanctions a sale to City.

  5. Wavey,

    The thing with Giroud and France is a funny one to me because of the circumstances surrounding it: Benzema pushed out for the Valbuena thing, Lacazette for whatever reason having a falling out with Deschamps because he refuses to include him (major talking point in France from what I have read), Deschamps not really liking Gamero (again have no idea why because all he does is score loads of goals playing alongside Griezmann). So when you actually consider it, he kind of fell into the position and good for him to continue but I can’t see that lasting much longer. He is in an impact sub role now and Deschamps continues on with him.

    When it comes to Sanchez, I completely agree with you, its not about money its about ambition and summer signings. Sanchez seems like the type of player that is willing to stay if quality is brought in, bring in Lacazette or Aubameyang (as PSG have bowed out) and I would imagine Sanchez stays. If they sanction a sale to Citeh, then any venom they receive for that would be justified.

  6. Transfer Window Action Team – genius, Yogi, pure genius! Like a glimmer of sunshine on a cloudy day.

    Assuming the afore-mentioned team do royally balls it up, as per expectation, and we sell Sanchez to either Chelski or Citeh and replace him with a couple of no-names and duffers, I hope there is a sustained campaign against the decision makers. Nothing against Sanchez personally; I can see why he would leave, but against the Board, owner and Wenger. Sell him to Bayern by all means and reinvest the cash, but to a rival, just like the RvP sale, would have to be cause for unrest.

  7. C,

    I find the speculation about the coming and going during the close season tedious especially when nothing appears to be happening at AFC but it keeps the blogs in business which is good, Question for you why would the club pay 60million for Lacazette when in the last 2/3 seasons they more than likely could have got him for half that if Arsene really wanted him, I am in Lyon regularly and the papers there in past seasons have been full of his impending departure to Arsenal but not presently, but then again this would not unusual for Arsene. On Sanchez I think he is gone there is No way Arsenal will take a 40+ million hit by running down his contract

  8. Stu,

    In selling RVP to United we sold them the player who single-handedly won them the league. Hopefully we won’t be stupid enough to do that again, but I really wouldn’t be surprised.

  9. C,

    But Giroud thinks he is there on merit, not because of circumstances. He would see a bit-part role for a second season as a real threat on his chances of continuing to play for his national team, especially with a World Cup tournament on the horizon.

  10. Wavey,

    It’s part of the same old story. Wenger tells the players that they are the greatest thing ever, and tells us that we’re lucky to have him too. The players might believe it, but the fact is that they aren’t and we’re not. Living in a Wenger fantasy land.

  11. So the Lyon president is in London, apparently to discuss transfers. He was quoted as saying, “Gérard Houllier is with me, accompanies me, concerning the possible negotiations. The transfer of Alexander to Atlético can not be done.”

  12. Thanks for the post Yogi

    I think the decision on whether or not to sell Sanchez is made by Arsene and no one else. The last round of contract negotiations made it clear who was in charge and I doubt Arsene would let anyone tell him what to do. I would very surprised if Alexis does sign a new contract but I not be surprised if Arsene decides to keep him for 1 more year.

    Our past history argues that targeting MBappe is totally unrealistic. I think Wavey said this yesterday and putting all of our eggs in the Mbappe basket is setting us up to miss him and then it becomes to late and we miss any other top quality forward. Then the excuse will be that we tried but we could not compete with the worlds other big teams. In the end we will probably buy another technically gifted creative player whose skill set is more of a midfielder as the consolation prize, and the beat goes on.

  13. It bothers me that Deschamps does not like Lacazette. The reason for my concern is my high regard for Deschamps both when he was a player and now as a coach. An inner voice tells me that Lacazette carries a footballing virus of some sort and that Deschamps is one of the few who has diagnosed the condition. After a season of having scored 36 goals, that should have made Lacazette immune from anything but smiles from most coaches. I wonder if Lacazette has one of those impenetrable egos that does not lend itself to coaching suggestions? What ever he has Deschamps does not want him around!

  14. buckagh,

    Its all about the hope for me and I know I hope every summer only to get dealt a blow when nothing happens or the team is left a player(s) short of what is needed but the speculation is good. I hear you mate, it doesn’t make sense why they would pay 60m for Lacazette this summer when in the past, when he should have been bought say last summer, they could have and should have gotten him for less; but then again this is Arsenal under Arsene so things like this rarely make any sense at all. I did wonder how things were being reported or the tempature of the reports from Lyon and thanks for that. It is strange because, especially last summer, it felt like Lacazette was on his way to Arsenal only for Arsene to put a stop to it for whatever reason but then sign Perez and say it was to ‘cover’ for Giroud who was out of shape (AGAIN) heading into t a season and because nobody knew when or if Welbeck would be back last season. Part of me wonders if Arsene is staying loyal to Giroud and not signing Lacazette because of Deschamps’ decision for France, which I feel is something that is often time criticized, given his decision at the CF position.

    I know they won’t take a 40+m hit but the thing with Sanchez is that to my mind he has actually never said he wanted to leave he just wanted to lift silverware and the club to show ambition. So I would imagine if they were to bring in players he would sign. Its strange to me to think that even for a club that values money the way they do, the fact that they don’t seem to comprehend winning will give them more money is baffling to me.

  15. Wavey,

    I know and I honestly think Deschamps has convinced himself that Giroud is there on merit as well. The thing is, he is going to be a bit part player at Arsenal next season and his best chance is actually moving to another club. As for the World Cup, well if players like Dembele, Mbappe, Griezmann, Lemar, Lacazette, Coman and the rest of the players; Giroud might find himself sitting comfortably on the bench.

  16. Two Owls,

    I can respect your affection for Deschamps as I respect him as a manager and player; but I’m not so sure its just as simple as a virus because Deschamps is not opposed to making strange decisions if I’m honest. The other thing is that he called him up this time around and spoke volumes about him so if he didn’t want him then he wouldn’t have called him up this time and would have taken the Benzema route (which he called Benzema “pitiful” and didn’t speak highly of him). I think its more to do with Deschamps simply favoring Giroud for whatever reason. I mean, and this is just my opinion, but I do think that Deschamps loyalty to Giroud and even Gignac are baffling especially when you consider he chose the latter over both Lacazette and Gamiero both who score goals for fun and Gamiero partners with Griezmann so they know how to play together. Plus, he continues to pick Giroud who isn’t even first choice at Arsenal so its a strange situation to be honest.

  17. As I posted a week or so ago, I think the key to keeping Alexis is signing some quality players. We are offering a competitive wage, if reports are true, but what we don’t have is CL football or much of a track record competing for the league. If we can convince Alexis that we are actually serious about challenging for the league through big signings this summer and a coherent plan for managing Europa/Premier League. He might renew his contract. I’m with C and Wavey there. The problem so far is that I don’t see such activity and business being successfully concluded at this point. And, I think the issue is potentially clouded by the ambiguity of pursuing possible replacement options.

    So my conclusion is that AW and the club have to have a clear strategy to sign top players to play with Alexis rather than to replace him. They need to communicate this to Alexis and make a firm decision that their plans for next season revolve around him playing a key role in a genuine title challenge. Then they have to deliver on the transfer business. If they hedge their bets on finding replacements they will make it inevitable that he departs.

    For me, the key is determining that whatever the circumstances, Alexis stays next season. That clarifies everything and frees the club to pursue targets to compete next season. To me that is the only way Alexis renews his contract. And even if he doesn’t, as I have suggested in previous posts, I am confident that Alexis plays hard next season even if he doesn’t renew this summer. He still might next season, but even if he leaves on a free, Arsenal will get back into the CL and possibly win the title and Europa league with Alexis on current wages–a bargain. He isn’t replaceable anyway and we will be in a better position to replace him next summer if we have a good season with him. Besides, it also allows us to tell recruits this summer that they will be playing with Alexis next season.

  18. In other words, my conclusion is that Arsenal should act like a football club that cares about competing. If it actually risked doing that, it might work and the business part would resolve itself. Prioritizing the business side is a recipe for stasis at best or disaster at worst. But of course this is what I have been appealing for almost a decade in these comments, and AFC have not altered this failed approach fundamentally. Despite the talk of change, I see little evidence and have small hope that a change in mentality and approach will take place.

  19. On the rumoured Lacazette for Giroud plus cash deal, I think it is a mistake. We should just be buying Lacazette outright if he is the best striker we can manage to get. I still wish we were pursuing Aubameyang (as unlikely as it might be that he would want to sign for us, it is worth pursuing as hard as possible). But if Lacazette is the best available to us, he should come in without weakening the team. I would much rather sell Perez and Walcott than Giroud who provides a genuine alternative to Lacazette and Welbeck in style and approach. In a squad used well, especially next season, Giroud should be starting some league and European matches and getting plenty of appearances. His chances for France are not going to suffer really if he has 40 total appearances and scores 20 goals in all competitions, and he should be able to make that by scoring at a slightly better rate in the Europa league early games compared to comparable CL matches.

    Giroud becomes ineffective when he doesn’t have a point to prove, competition, or rest. He has long patches where he doesn’t score when he is started every game.

    Whoever we buy as a striker should be an addition at the top of the squad, not a replacement. Theo and Perez don’t fit as well in the team and AW seems to have little confidence in them, so those are the forwards I feel we could sell without losing too much. Giroud on the other hand is very valuable to the squad and will get plenty of football.

  20. Even if we show Alexis a coherent plan to win the league, he needs to have faith that the current club structure can carry out the plan. How do we stop him from looking at Bayern, Chelsea and Citeh , clubs who probably have better plans and a recent track record of executing plans. If he wants trophies I’m sure he’s seen enough at AFC to know he can walk on to a trophy winning team of his choice.
    Our only hope is to overspend and hope he has an insatiable mercenary streak, but I can’t see that happening. Only way he stays is if Arsene asks him for a shopping list of players that would keep him here, which will never never happen.
    We’re screwed. Sanchez decides where he wants to go and he’ll decide at his own pace. He’ll take his time as it is in his interest to do so. If he goes to Chelsea or Citeh it is in their interests to take their time as well to disrupt/delay any transfer plans we will need to make to replace him. Kroenke will not let an asset like him walk out the door for nothing. Neither will Arsene.
    His situation needs to be resolved first. We probably are best to encourage him to leave so we have time to react, buy, replace, restock.

  21. Sanchez, in my opinion, had a good season at Arsenal. He has a fan base that adores him, a team that enjoys playing with him and a coach that understands and appreciates him. On top of that he has been offered a very credible wage to continue on at Arsenal. The team is aware of the very effective association that Alexis has with the German on this team and they will undoubtedly sign him as well. The entire organization wishes to keep Alexis happy and they will go out and sign players that will enhance the play of Alexis. I think Alexis will stay at Arsenal where he is the man.

  22. Don’t know why I should be surprised at Soton sacking Puell but it’s a ludicrous decision.
    I fail to see what more he could have been expected to achieve.
    They finished eighth – same position as they managed under Pochettino and they won a trip to Wembley for a League Cup final against Manchester United (after beating us and Liverpool earlier in the competition).
    FFS.

  23. Reports in Italy say Juve have rejected a bid of around 16m from Arsenal for Cuadrado. I would gladly take him but why would he leave Juve for Arsenal when he is a key part of their attacking 4 of Dybala/Manzudiac/Higuain/Cuadrado. Hope it happens though….even though surely they want at least 25+m for him.

  24. Jonny,

    I was thinking the same thing especially with the loss of Van Dijk for the 2nd half of the season but apparently the supporters made it clear they lost faith in him and the management had questions, isn’t that funny.

  25. Limestonegunner,

    I’m wondering if the noise regarding Mbappe is an attempt to let the bush telegraph get the news to Alexis while he is away with Chile. Solid rumours that we have made a bid of £87m suggest to Alexis that Wenger is serious and he gives his agent the nod to put pen to paper. Arsenal have already denied that an offer was even made, so if Mbappe doesn’t turn up they can say that it was all just rumour anyway. I’m assuming that Alexis isn’t gullible enough to fall for that kind of play, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if the club try to pull it. It’s the same as the season ticket renewal game we play every season, but with a player potentially renewing instead.

  26. C,

    Can’t say that I’d be keen – he’s always looked pretty poor whenever I’ve seen him. Not that it sounds like a genuine story anyway. Then again who knows how Wenger’s mind works?

  27. We are in mid June and Bayern have signed 4 players. Of course they have a professional set up. Closer to home Everton seem to have 3 players in the bag. It’s all about planning and preparation and surely that is also what competing with the elite means as well(though not to AFC management).
    If we are again unprepared for this season a quick look at the fixture list tells me that by November we can already consign any hope of winning or even challenging for a trophy to the bin. It will be a long season I fear with a more toxic atmosphere. Hope I am wrong

  28. andy1886,

    I actually think he is a good player, can be a bit maddening but since his move to Juve he has found and become a more consistent player for both club and country. The one problem is that if he was to play opposite of Sanchez he would drive most crazy because he is as capable of beating his man and either finishing or setting a teammate up as he is to lose possession.

    Other thing is, no reason for him to leave Juve.

  29. The strangest thing for me is that for as much as Arsene likes to attack, we have so many attackers that have no end product or are WILDLY inconsistent. Its weird

  30. andy1886,

    Totally right. Alexis has played under some great coaches: Pep, Bielsa, Sampaoli and knows that Arsene just doesn’t cut the mustard. Arsene told him lots of crap to bring him onboard. But Alexis has had three years to see the “great man” has feet of clay. He wants to go to a club which doesn’t have an absentee manager and he doesn’t have to spend half the game telling other players when to press. If Alexis stays, you can cut off my legs and call me shortie. He’s got a couple of good years left. He’s not gonna waste them on Arsene.

  31. philmar,

    Yup. Alexis had to leave Barca because he was surplus to requirements. Mad decision, but that’s what happens. He won’t want to end his career scrapping around with a mid-table team like Arsenal. He’ll want to go out with a big outfit like Bayern or City to prove Barca wrong.
    He might go to City, because he knows Pep and knows his system. That means there will not be a learning curve. That will make him very attractive to Pep. On the other hand, if he goes to Bayern he plays just behind Lewandowski, is guaranteed a domestic title and maybe even a champions league title. That’s the only doubt in Sanchez’s mind right now.

  32. Wavey,

    When I’m feeling most cynical, I do think the Mbappe bid was more about PR. It is certainly a possibility. But that isn’t going to work if it is.

  33. Limestonegunner,

    When you consider that our bid was significantly lower than the one from Madrid it isn’t hard to think that. I have my suspicions that even if the bid had been accepted (as unlikely as that was) we’d have found a way to scupper the deal.

    Mbappe and his advisers are probably well aware that Wenger doesn’t have the greatest track record for developing young players, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he stayed put for another year and then made his way to Madrid next summer.

  34. andy1886,

    That’s been my feeling about the likeliest scenario all along. Hence my concerns we are not making the deals we might to keep our ambitious players from leaving,

  35. C,

    Even when the Giroud is playing well and scoring goals, you still find reasons why “supposed” better players are not playing.
    Funny.
    At Arsenal, he’s Arsene’s favourite; now in France, though not the coach’s favourite, but the coach hates the better players.

    Stop downgrading a man who’s diligent at his work…. He might not be good enough for you but he must be good at his job to be getting these appearances and goals.

  36. Oludotun,

    One of Wenger’s favourite mantras is “Consistency”. With his regular, but unexplained barren spells, Mr. Consistency Giroud is not.

    It is for that reason so many fans would prefer a more regular and reliable striker.

  37. And there came from the land of Britain a prophet, whose name was Jeremy. And he cried aloud in the wilderness, and said, Behold, I bring you hope.And it came to pass, in the land of Britain, that the High Priestess went unto the people and said, Behold, I bring ye tidings of great joy. For on the eighth day of the sixth month there shall be a general election.And the people said, Not another one.And they waxed wroth against the High Priestess and said, Didst thou not sware, even unto seven times, that thou wouldst not call a snap election?And the High Priestess said, I know, I know. But Brexit is come upon us, and I must go into battle against the tribes of France, Germany, and sundry other holiday destinations. And I must put on the armor of a strong majority in the people’s house. Therefore go ye out and vote.And there came from the temple pollsters, who said, Surely this woman will flourish. For her enemy is as grass; she cutteth him down. He is as straw in the wind, and he will blow away. And the trumpet of her triumph shall sound in all the land.And the High Priestess said, Piece of cake.And there came from the same country a prophet, whose name was Jeremy. His beard was as the pelt of beasts, and his raiments were not of the finest. And he cried aloud in the wilderness and said, Behold, I bring you hope.And suddenly there was with him a host of young people. And he said unto them, Ye shall study and grow wise in all things, and I shall not ask ye for gold. And the sick shall be made well, and they also will heal freely. And he promised unto them all manner of goodly things.And the young people said unto him, How shall these things be rendered, seeing that thou hast no money in thy purse?And he spake unto them in a voice of sounding brass and said, Soak the rich. And again, Pull down the mighty from their seats.And the young people went absolutely nuts.And they hearkened unto the word of Jeremy, and believed. For they said unto themselves, Lo, he bringeth unto us the desire of our hearts. He cometh by bicycle, with a helmet upon his head. And he eateth neither flesh nor fowl, according to the Scriptures. For man cannot live by bread alone, but hummus is quite another matter.And the High Priestess saw all these things and was sore. And she gathered unto her the chief scribes and the Pharisees and said unto them, What the hell is going on?And they said unto her, It is a blip, as if it were a rough place upon the road.But they said unto themselves, When the government was upon her shoulders, this woman was mighty. But now that she has gone abroad unto every corner of the land, she stumbleth. For surely it is written that ruling and campaigning are as oil and water, and there shall be no concord betwixt them.And the chief scribes wrote upon tablets, saying, Jeremy is false of tongue. He hideth wickedness in his heart. And his sums do not add up.And nobody paid any attention.And the elders rose up and said to the young people, If ye choose Jeremy, he will bring distress in your toils and wailing upon your streets. Do ye not remember the nineteen-seventies?And the young people said, The what?And the elders spake again, and said to the young people, Beware, for he gave succor in days of yore to the I.R.A.And the young people said, The what?And the young people said, Jeremy shall bring peace unto all nations, for he hateth the engines of war that take wing across the heavens. And he showeth respect for all peoples, even unto the transgender community.And the elders said, The what?And it came to pass that the heathen of this land came among the people, with fire and sword, and slew many among the faithful. And great was the lamentation.And the High Priestess waxed exceeding wroth and said to the people, Fear not. For I shall bind your wounds and give ye shelter from the heathen, and shall take up the sword against them.And there came again pollsters from the temple, who said, Will the people not vote for her in this hour of need?And nobody paid any attention.And it came to the vote.And the elders went up to vote, and the young people. And the young people were as a multitude. And in the hours of darkness there was much counting. And the young people watched by night, and the elders went to bed.And there came in the morning news that the High Priestess had vanquished the prophet Jeremy. But the triumph of the High Priestess was as the width of a nail. And she was vexed.And the elders and the chief scribes and the Pharisees spoke among themselves, yea, even in the corners of their houses.And there was great rejoicing amidst the multitude of the young. And they took strong wine, and did feast among themselves. And there were twelve baskets left over.And of the pollsters there was no sign.And the people saw Jeremy and said, Surely this man has won? Doth he not skip in gladness like a young hart upon the hills?And there was great murmuring among the elders. And they said unto themselves, Weep not. For the High Priestess doth but prepare the way. Cometh there not one who is greater than she?And they said, Behold, for the hour of the redeemer is upon us. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Prince of Peace. And they cried in one voice, Boris.And the young people said, Oh, shit.And the people gave tongue, and made supplication unto the Lord, saying, Lord, let our cry come unto thee.And the Lord thought the whole thing was absolutely hilarious.And then the people said, Lord, what shall we do regarding Brexit? For henceforth the High Priestess shall be as weak as a newborn lamb. How shall we hope for continued access to the single market?And the Lord said, The what?

  38. Jonnygunner,

    Sadly I can’t claim it as my own work, only a cut and paste from a received e mail, but I couldn’t resist the urge to pass it on. 😀

  39. Orson Kaert,

    They missed out the bit about the High Priestess making a pact with the dark demons to keep the peasants from the castle door….

    Just sayin… 😜😜😜

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