To the dismay of many outside of the Arsenal world, Alexis Sanchez returned to training yesterday and seemed to enjoy himself. He looked like he ran around a lot, kicked the ball a bit, headed it a couple of times and sat there like a pig in whatever pig’s sit in to make them happy.
In short, business as usual. As strike action goes, it was a little ‘lacking’. He didn’t force a move through man-flu nor did he suffer an, ahem, injury; yes, Fabregas and Flamini, I’m looking at you.
There’s a suggestion that Alexis will feature on Sunday which I find at once staggering and believable. I suspect he’s probably come back to training the closest of anyone to match fitness so a substitute role. What better way to bade the club farewell with a winning goal at Wembley…
There were others there who probably won’t be in months to come. It’s typical of the perversity surrounding the club at the moment. For years, there were real concerns that we weren’t signing players; now, we’re worried they aren’t selling them.
Arsène mentioned the other day that he thought the norm would be more and more players moving into the last year of their contracts. It’s a side-effect of the exorbitant transfer fees being paid this summer. There’s more to come; you know that, particularly if Kylian Mbappe moves to anywhere but a new apartment in Monaco.
On a Wing and a Prayer
The astronomical fees saw claims that Barcelona were contacting Europe’s elite clubs so that they could complain to UEFA about PSG breaking FFP rules. What larks. £196m for Neymar Jr? His dad’s Christmasses have all come at once. Atletico Madrid quoted a price of £170m for Antoine Griezmann, knowing it wouldn’t deter the Catalans.
It puts a new spin on their desire to land Mesut Özil if they can’t get Philippe Coutinho. £100m and thank you very much, squire. Perhaps Ivan should get on the phone and whip up some support for complaining to UEFA about Barcelona. You’d expect any complaint about Barcelona to receive a lot of backing.
It seems a long time ago that we looked with bemusement at Winston Bogarde’s decision to stay at Chelsea and see out his contract at Stamford Bridge, rather than playing week in, week out elsewhere. His was down to money; the same applies for Lucas Perez, Debuchy, Gibbs and Jenkinson. We may scratch our heads on the sidelines but football is their job, not a lifelong love affair. The object of the exercise for them is to earn enough to live off once retirement comes.
With a year to go on their current deals, there’s little incentive for them to take a pay cut and move on. That’s the short-term view which is prevalent in football. While it may see them better off for twelve months, there’s no guarantee that they will find a new club, particularly for someone like Debuchy. In fairness to him, he does seem to be actively looking to get on with life, Lucas Perez as well.
Squeals of Delight
The two English lads? I’m not so sure. Gibbs to West Brom fell through due to the combination of fees and wages. Albion didn’t want to pay over the top for both and why not? That’s the same objective for every deal. It’s left him with the option of Watford and, er, Watford, if the back pages are anything to go by.
At least he won’t have to change the satnav settings for training although a wistful tear might form in his eye as he passes the entrance for London Colney every day. He’d be the first volunteer to go and get the ball back if it went over the neighbour’s fence. “Do you mind if I stay for kickabout lads? That lot are crap…”
Carl Jenkinson meanwhile is attracting attention of three Serie A clubs: Verona, Sassuolo, and Calgliari. He’s excited because it means pizza and diet coke every night for dinner. No complaints from him about it being like living in a foreign country. No doubt photos of his childhood bedroom decked out in the appropriate colours will surface as the deal is finalised.