The patience of the lunatics, in charge of the asylum for decades, snapped. Passing round tabs of acid like it was going out of fashion, they raized the edifice to the ground and replaced it with a grotesque homage to Andoni Gaudi. How did they fund it, you ask? They sold a player to PSG.
£350m is the fag packet figure in circulation for Neymar Jr.; £196m for his release clause, the rest in wages. The gaping hole is agents fees. Raiola claimed £40m last year for selling Pogba to United; if the Brazilian so going for double that, there’s another £80m to pay out on that as well. The first £100m deal is fast becoming the first £250m deal.
All because they couldn’t have Alexis Sanchez. If only they had stretched an offer to £75m; it may have saved them £200m in wages and fees. That’s the level PSG are operating at. Mind you, the way this is all playing out, PSG will end with Neymar Sr and a Chilean miner called Alexis. If it’s a Chilean minor called Alexis, PSG face a transfer ban so they’ve given up on that idea.
Barcelona, also-rans in Spain and Europe, getting a taste of their own medicine as the also-rans of France and Europe come poaching their best players. The new gods and the old do battle across the boardrooms of the continent leaving the bankers incontinent.
All the while, Arsenal pootle along being really nice to everybody. Except for players the manager no longer wants. They train as a little group on their own. Then when clubs come a-knocking with very reasonable offers, we’re like a demented goldfish, trying to gobble all the nourishment we can; “We are not close” is seared into their psyche.
Lozza, lozza laffs
Away from all the kerfuffle, Ivan was jolly chuffed with the tour and is jolly serious about the Emirates Cup because its a “great event”.
And singing his kinda song is Laurent Koscielny. The French defender is wanted by Marseille but he’s not interested. The ‘wife’ and ‘kids’ are settled in London, and he is too.
“I have a long contract with Arsenal and I have [no reason] to leave the club.
At which point, Arsène came into the room, winked at the defender and mouthed ‘coming back at you’. Lolo smiled and went on,
“Arsene Wenger is a big [inspiration] for me. He bought me from France and has given me everything to help me play for Arsenal, and has helped me as a man too.
“I have a big [loyalty] to this club and to the boss too. I have stayed here for seven years and I have learnt a lot from him, so I am happy to be here with him and to fight for him because he is a great person.”
Arsène came back in and gave him a hug at this point,
I am just here to enjoy my job and give everything for the team, and get the best results for the club. If i can do all of that, then I am happy.
Koscielny endured a difficult start to a number of seasons, with the odd red card here and there. When he couldn’t contrive new ways to get himself sent off, he found the odd own goal or two sated his appetite for destruction. And yet he came through those spells, going on to become an integral part of the back four.
Rider on the storm
That experience, of the ups and downs, is vital for youngsters coming through. For many it’s a smooth ride to the first team and the first bump in the road comes when they are sold. None cleaned the smelly boots of senior pros or laid the kits out before games. Now, they are finely tuned athletes from day one, with everything done for them.
At this point, you’re expecting me to say that “it didn’t do the older generation any harm” and while I agree to some extent, I’m not sure cleaning boots taught humility. It certainly saved the clubs employing people to do those jobs and made the owners money but now those penny-pinching ways aren’t necessary. There are many more ways to make much bigger money for the clubs.
According to Ivan, focus is on the business now is being ready for the season. Arsenal’s focus then is on shifting the deadwood out of the squad and somehow keeping eleven fit players. Or eleven players fit, which ever you prefer.