The players landed in Oz, and it’s business as usual for Arsène. It genuinely is, with his first press conference since the last, dominated by the future of Alexis Sanchez. Nothing to see here, move along; the Chilean has a contract and the club expects them to honour it, was his stance.
And in fairness, it seems that’s exactly what Alexis plans on doing if press reports of his intentions are correct. You watch Arsène bitch next summer if that turns out to be the case and Sanchez walks away on a free. It will be a far more eloquent discourse but it will boil down to ‘poor clubs, exploited by greedy, ungrateful players’.
Publicly, he hasn’t given up all hope that there may be a new contract from the 28-year-old but the signs aren’t good at the moment. Reports declare that Wenger denied reports in Chile that Alexis had asked for a move to Manchester City which I can say I believe. I doubt the pair have spoken since Sanchez toddled off to join the Confederations Cup jamboree in Russia. I doubt that’s unusual either, before anyone tries to claim it is.
More to the point, asking for a move to City would cost Sanchez millions in ‘loyalty’ bonus payments and there’s one thing which is apparent, he isn’t shy of making a penny or two. I’m incredulous that anyone would expect him to do so. Mind you, clubs are penned in on this with players agitating for moves still receiving pay-offs despite wanting to leave. Only in football…
One also not leaving – at the moment – is Olivier Giroud. We extended his deal, you see, and that means he’s never going to leave. Unless it suits Arsenal and then we’ll rip his contract us quicker than Usain Bolt in a 100m race. According to Arsène, his compatriot is “determined to stay”.
Part of that comes from the knowledge that Lacazette plays second fiddle to him in the French side. It happens at international level, why not at club? 52 millions reasons, all of them green, no Kermit the Frog hasn’t been spawning out of control.
However, a squad overloaded with forwards isn’t going to be a happy one. He’s right, football is a competitive environment but these are players who could walk into any Premier League starting line-up from the eighth-placed club downward.
The focus is naturally on Giroud with Lacazette’s arrival; his fall from grace is complete. However, I can see how he fits into a 3-4-2-1. I can’t say the same for Theo Walcott. He isn’t a wing-back and would make no pretence of being one either. Last year, he freely admitted his dream of being a central striker was over; he’s a wide forward so where does he fit in?
He’s not creative enough to be one of the ‘2’ and with the ‘1’ ruled out, his career is stalling. If we plan on reverting to a 4-2-3-1, he’s one of the ‘3’ but having won the FA Cup with three centre backs, reverting to a back four right now, seems to counter-intuitive.
Who Are You?
Like all those on the periphery, he must force his way into a starting line-up. It’s World Cup year and Theo has never played in one. Indeed, he’s dodged the bullet of the last two but he won’t want to miss out on what is possibly his final chance of going. To do that, he’s needs regular football and that’s not going to happen at Arsenal.
West Ham are talked about but no-one else; Theo is the forgotten man of English football. To think he was worth £30m back in the day when £30m meant something as a transfer fee.
Wenger’s luck is such that he will be spoilt for choice for about five minutes and then someone will succumb to injury. Lacazette is playing a part in the tour games but to answer the question raised by the headline on the club’s website, his debut will come against Chelsea at Wembley in the Community Shield. It’s got to be classed as a competitive match to count as a ‘debut’ otherwise Clive Allen played three times (I think) for Arsenal instead of being the first million pound misfit (ahem).
Speaking of misfits – maybe misfortune is more apposite – Mathieu Debuchy has apparently been told he can leave on a free transfer. You can’t help but feel sympathy for a player who seemed to be a good solution to the problem created by Bacary Sagna’s departure. I can’t think of another whose Arsenal career was so wrecked by injury; good luck to him wherever he lands up.
Not landing at an airport near you soon is Thomas Lemar. Or Kylian Mbappe; it’s all speculation, according to Wenger. Apart from the bits about us being interested in them; all clubs are, he claimed. But there’s interested and interested, and we’re definitely interested. Only £7m apart on Lemar (or £12m, depending on which outlet you want to believe) which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Let’s face it, if we can haul a deal over the line with Aulas, the club can do that with anyone. When are we back from the tour…?