Arsène on Alexis – Mustafi Going? – Football Low Points & Greed

I genuinely don’t know where to begin. There are so many ways to point to what is wrong with the modern game that I’m ‘spoiled’ for choice. I’d rather not be but I’m sure generations before me watched in varying degrees of horror at football’s evolution.

Cynicism tells me this is the bottom of the barrel but if I’m honest, the 70s and 80s sank lower. So much about today’s game – the stadia, the technical quality – is far superior to those days yet those things make it worse, quashing the atmosphere and quelling the players’ passion for football.

On Monday night, football sank to a new low in its’ pit of despair. No matter the evil which seeped onto the terraces half-a-century ago, nothing previously plumbed the depths of punters paying to watch the players in the tunnel. Two-hundred-odd quid a ticket; Spurs (unsurprisingly) are doing the same at the new swamp. I won’t feign surprise if I find Arsenal had looked into it.

But should I be Infuriated? Baffled? Resigned to the continuing sorry state of affairs? All three at once?

Arsène spoke to the media this morning and the focus is on Alexis Sanchez. As well as welcoming back the Chilean, Laurent Koscielny returns and we’ll some semblance of a proper back three, along with Sead Kolasinac’s debut on the left; players in their proper positions. How quaint.

Arsène wouldn’t be drawn on whether Alexis will start although we all know he will. Not only is he fit again, last season’s clusterf*ck at Anfield is surely enough to persuade even the most stubborn of men that leaving him on the bench is folly. Or hubris. Or both.

Give Us A Sign(ing)

There was no update on either his, Mesut Özil or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s futures. No meetings were broadcast nor were the minutes published. No bids were admitted to and Wenger remains optimistic that all three will extend their stays at the Emirates beyond the end of the current season.

Except no-one asks about the German’s future and I’m not really sure why. I didn’t think he played well at Stoke but that’s an opinion. Would I sell him for £70m? Of course, but then I’d take that for Alexis as well so there’s no difference there. Would I prefer he stayed? Yes, and I’d prefer he dug us out more of the holes we routinely put ourselves in.

There’s something weird around Arsenal at present. Criticism is deemed to be a show of wanting the player gone; it’s become binary between liking a player and wanting him sold. The middle ground of a luxury player finding form one week and dipping the next is no longer allowed in any critique of performance.

Wenger refused be drawn on whether bids had found their way into Highbury House. He is, however, “aware” of every bid received, as any manager should be. Tomorrow’s headlines are about how he refused to rule out selling the Chilean and how the squad is being prepared for his departure.

I Don’t Want To Be A-Loan

One man not leaving to the chagrin of many is Jack Wilshere. Wenger defended the midfielder’s reaction to the halfwit challenge made on him during this week’s Under-23 match. It was a “human reaction” and frankly, I’d have been more concerned if Jack had just brushed it off with a laugh.

One thing I am going to comment on is Wenger’s refusal to rule out selling Shkodran Mustafi. We don’t have the luxury of depth at the back where the experience of a World Cup winner can be excised in one fell swoop. Whereas Arsène is adamant about Alexis, his answer on the German was underwhelming,

on if he expects to sell Mustafi before the end of the window…
It’s difficult for me to speak about any individual cases because we are now in the final seven days of the transfer market. It’s always very difficult to predict what will happen there. You have to make quick and sharp decisions, and you cannot plan that and come out in the press conference with how you will respond to any solicitation

That to me suggests we are working on a deal to bring in another centre back and if it happens, Mustafi can join Internazionale. Virgil Van Dijk, anyone?

One man who isn’t leaving the club is Joel Campbell. Or at least he isn’t on loan. The headline below isn’t hype; the story below genuinely follows that line of reporting.


Campbell, returning to Arsenal after suffering an injury in the this summer’s Gold Cup, doesn’t want to go on loan for the sixth time. Let that sink in. Six times. I don’t blame him for not wanting to go on loan but perhaps he needs to look at his wage demands as much as the club needs to look at fees.

Money, That’s What They Want

But jesus wept, six loan spells and we haven’t sold him yet? I’m not being funny but when does it become obvious to all concerned that he isn’t going to cut the mustard at Arsenal? OK, so a couple of those loan spells covered off his wait for a work permit but four since? Madness.

It’s easy to criticise Arsenal for not dropping fees to get shot of ‘deadwood’. But let’s be honest, I question the players greed in not lowering their expectations as much. At what point does money become an issue for them. Yes, I understand they don’t want to sell themselves short but there are a few players who seem to think that Arsenal’s wage structure is mirrored further down the league pyramid.

Either that or they genuinely think their performances merit inclusion in a top seven side. Small hint: they don’t.

Campbell was linked with moves away in the previous two summers. They fell through with wages among the issues. The question fringe players have to ask is whether it’s better to be a non-playing squad member at Arsenal or to take a paycut of £15-20k per week and be a first team player at another club. It’s an indictment of human greed that many opt to remain at the club, refusing to take a step down to get a leg up.

And sad, as well.

’til Tomorrow.

68 thoughts on “Arsène on Alexis – Mustafi Going? – Football Low Points & Greed

  1. A melancholic reflection of the current state of play, YW, altho I was a little perplexed to see you say that you were spoilt for choice on theirs that have befallen football, but it wasn’t until the last paragraph that you mentioned ‘Money’ altho everything you touched on was indirectly all about the money.

    Not intended as a criticism as I hope you know – it’s just that I am really unhappy about what money and the greed for it has done to sport — and the sad realisation that there is no chance of putting the Genie back in the bottle.

    Ignore me — that was a very good and absorbing Post – than you. 😀

  2. And, I am and never have been enamoured of Mustafi — I think Wenger relies he made a mistake and is regretting signing him.

    That’s a guess – but I am always right – just ask C. 😀

  3. Jeez – I am becoming irritated with the auto-kerrect deciding to auto-correct something that did not need auto-kerrectifying. ‘relies’ = ‘realises’ — ‘course it could be fat finger trouble! 🙂

  4. Very nice post, as always Yogi master 🙂

    Is it greed or maybe things are very cozy at Colney? Maybe the players dont wanna leave partly because of the money and partly because its very comfortable there.

    They´re not really asked to win, just to do their best and there´s probably a nice, varm feeling of comrades within the group and no fear of a manager who demands responsibility and gives you the occasional hairdryer.

  5. I missed it – what did the players do in the tunnel – could be well worth £200.
    speaking of which – money and sport and the big fight this weekend – I don’t get either boxing or KFC (or whatever) but the hype for a former boxing great against a current UFC champ leaves me cold and yet both the BBC and Sky are flogging the guts out of it.
    And – W Rooney retires – end of an era & one of engerlands greatest players stepping down or a busted flush flat track bully finally giving up?
    Not being in the Chumps league this year – but missing it already hearing about the Scousers exploits
    Lastly – a royal stuffing at Anfield this weekend may lead to a trolley dash for talent.

  6. Afternoon,

    I must admit I’m a bit mixed on Mustafi. He hasn’t been a complete disaster, but for £35m you would hope that a defender with PL experience when his younger would be a bit better. I just don’t get that we are going to let him go after one season and buy a replacement. If we sell him we would surely have to at least get our money back and any better defender we get in is likely to be more expensive. Would Arsene honestly break the club’s transfer record for a defender? I did see one article indicating that the sale of Mustafi would mean that Chambers was staying. So this is a defender that Wenger recently had on his way out the door, who couldn’t even make the bench for the first two league games when we played LBs as CBs instead. Absolutely none of it makes any sense and Wenger’s reluctance to state that Mustafi isn’t being sold suggests that there is a price for him.

  7. I believe arsene said no to mustafi question before he rambled on.he said he exfects ever1 to stay.y did u cut dat out

  8. According to BBC:

    Will Germany defender Shkodran Mustafi leave Arsenal before next week’s transfer deadline?

    Arsene Wenger gave this reply when asked at his news conference earlier: “It’s difficult for me to speak about any individual cases because we are now in the final seven days of the transfer market.

    “It’s always very difficult to predict what will happen there. You have to make quick and sharp decisions, and you cannot plan that and come out in the press conference with how you will respond to any solicitation.”

  9. marcos,

    Just seen the presser and he said that he didn’t expect Mustafi to leave. I think that’s very different from his comments that Alexis, Ox and Ozil are staying. He hasn’t discounted Mustafi leaving if a bid comes in.

  10. Wavey,

    On a permanent deal too I see. Disappointing but it seems these days we’re desperate to take the money on all but a select few players.

    On Mustafi I rate him more highly than most I suspect. Who had a better first season, Mustafi or Xhaka? I’d argue it was the German. He doesn’t have any basic flaws unlike Xhaka and has the potential to settle in quite nicely with a decent run. Generally speaking he’s fit for purpose.

    If we sell it’ll be for the money, I can’t see us spending big on a new defender (certainly not VvD). If Chambers suddenly becomes the answer when last week he was on his way out then all that tells me is that Wenger is making it up as he goes along (something I’ve suspected for some time).

  11. The usual convoluted comments – which is pretty standard at this time of year, Wavey, when potential transfers in are discussed by Le Boss.

    He also said that it depended on the sales of players to reduce the squad, and only then would it be possible to buy (maybe) one player. Oh, yippee.

    There were so many blog headlines repeating Wenger’s update that the Lamar deal was ‘dead’ that the whole thing reminded me of Emily Dickinson’s poem about death, which I am sure you all know, but here is a snippet which matches the macabre way that deal has been handled ……

    “Because I could not stop for Death – 
    He kindly stopped for me – 
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
    And Immortality. 

    We slowly drove – He knew no haste 
    And I had put away 
    My labor and my leisure too, 
    For His Civility – 

  12. Great post Yogi. I think Mustafi is another defensive player whose #1 attribute is his technical skill and passing ability. His defending is certainly not world class but that said he is a better option then playing 2 LB on the back line. I would be ok with selling him if we planned to bring in Van Dijk however it would be madness to sell if we were not given into to buy another CB

  13. For a player like Joel Campbell or Perez I suspect the difference in the wages they get at Arsenal and those that would be offered in a team like Deportivo is probably quite a bit more then $10-15K/week. A difference of $20K per week is over $1M. I don’t think we can call the players greedy because I doubt that any of us would voluntarily give up more then $1M. I thnk we would play out our contract and then have the option to find a team of our choice rather then depend on the club to sell us

  14. I am sure all football players want to play regularly but playing football is a job just like our job. However the difference is that playing careers are very short and most players do not have another skill that will allow them to make a lot of money once their playing days are over. They have to make good business decisions while they are still able to make those sort of wages and make as much money as they can while they can. That is especially true of a player like Perez near to the end of his playing career.

  15. Mustafi on his way? Wouldn’t surprise me, but he’s not a bad defender. Surely we can’t let two centre backs leave in the space of a couple of weeks?

    I think Mustafi is a solid defender. Play a solid system with him and he will look good. Remember when Villas-Boas was at Chelsea he went Wengerish with his defending: high defensive line; full backs pushed up; lack of defensive cover… that made Terry, Ivanovic and Cole look sh!te. Under Maureen they looked world beaters. All he did was drop the defensive line a little deeper, held the full backs, and added midfield cover.

    cc: arseneincharge@arsenal.com

  16. IMO, Mustafi is not a bad defender but the thing that stands out most about him is his skill with the ball at his feet. I think we would be a better team if we swapped him for Van Dijk.

  17. Wavey,

    Toral leaving makes no sense at all to me, he had 2 extremely successful loan spells(winning Player of thr Year) yet doesn’t even get a look in thr team in midfield where we are far from settled or players making themselves undroppable. Even his loan last season while having ups and downs was good. The one thing he showed though is he can play in England. Personally I feel like he should of gotten a chance but all the best to him.

  18. andy1886,

    I’m with you in rating Muatafi more highly than most. Its strange people allow some time to bed into thr PL and others not so much. Mustafi showed he is not only a leader but a quality CB. He is alao tough and no nonsense while holding people accountable.

    I think he will come good. If he leaves then letting both Gabriel and Mustafi leave is a firable offense unlesa Van Dijk, Marquinho, Thiago Silva or Varane is coming.

  19. I agree with Bill about Mustafi and the apparent greed of footballers. In many cases, I believe AFC are paying more than 20k a week above what other clubs would for these players.

  20. C,

    I rate Mustafi but he is quite similar to Kos in style. We need more of a Merts type alongside either him or Kos unless we play 3CB’s, I think. Holding and Chambers are a little young and inconsistent to provide that balance. It is ok in a back 3 to have one of them in. I wouldn’t sell him because Kos’ Achilles is a big concern. But I think Bill is right that defending (certainly aerially) is the weaker part of his game than his on the ball attributes for the position. And in his case the high line or setting up deeper doesn’t seem to be the main issue. It is that AW favors skills much more than others would in his defensive positions and relatively underemphasizes pure defensive traits because he imagined this is easier to pick up. Never mind that someone has to really coach this effectively if they can pick it up!

  21. Limestonegunner,

    I guess it depends if you have ambition to win the top prizes. Perfectly okay for those that are happy to be second best though. Given the chance I’d want the opportunity to win the PL/CL rather than earn a few extra quid, and I’m sure it’s common knowledge that that isn’t going to happen if you sign up with Wenger.

  22. Andy,
    I am sure AW is a wonderful boss and an interesting person to hang out with and talk to. If you can get a move at some point to a winning club like so many in the past have (Cesc, Nasri, RvP, Clichy, Sagna and on and on) why not spend 3-5 years at AFC?

    If you are a supporter who would like to see your team compete at the top these days, well that is different.

  23. Perfect place to be a really good 21-6 year old, earn lots, play in CL (in the past anyway), live in London, develop your game and then move on to a winning club if possible for the 26-31 years of your career.

  24. I think this is what Lemar was thinking. AFC under AW are a good transition club to the top rank. Just don’t stay too long.

  25. Can anyone detect even a hint of a plan in Wenger’s transfer dealings so far?

    A quick smash and grab raid netted a fine left back, Kolascinac, so Wenger played him at centre back.

    Wenger’s number one target was Lemar, he signed Lacazette and says the Monaco door is closed, yet they continue to sell players.

    Wenger sells Gabriel and tells Chambers he can go, he drops Holding because “he had lost his confidence”, and he is appaerntly willing to sell Mustafi.

    I’m sure there may be a cunning plan in there somewhere, but it would take a Baldric to recognise it.

  26. Just the same, removing a player from an area of the team that has struggled, does not make any sense to me.

  27. Limestonegunner,

    While certainly the aireal part of his game is lacking (doesn’t help that his GK doesn’t help at all) but defensively I think he is more Mert than Kos but part of me thinks that he is being asked to play differently. Yes his on the ball skills are really good, but to hold that against him is strange to me as most top quality CB’s in the world when you think of the likes of Bonucci, Thiago Silva, Ramos, Boateng, Varane, Kompany, Alderweild, Marquinhos, Chellini are all superb on the ball. I actually think the thing that hampers him is he is still adapting to PL futbol. I think the other thing that doesn’t help is the lack of coaching / structure defensively at Arsenal.

  28. C,

    Mustafi looked fine when he started his Arsenal career. Good on the ball , confident , read the game well…he appeared to be a decent signing.

    However, it only took a few months for the confidence to go. He was diving in when he shouldn’t, conceding free kicks in dangerous areas & panicking so the question is was he iffy all along or is he another fine defender made to look ordinary by the support he gets defensively & the way the team is set up ?

    I believe it’s the way we set up. You could be the best defender in the world & still look dodgy at Arsenal.

  29. C,

    I’m not holding it against him. I’m observing how it is overemphasized in AW’s criteria and how the set up and coaching at AFC doesn’t seem to remedy the individual and team defending deficiencies .

  30. This team has an incredible habit of leaving its transfer dealings to the very last minute. The plan that people are hoping might exist is,in fact, the scramble in the waning minutes of the transfer window!

  31. Holy fuckballs Stuart – the more you wear your heart on your sleeve the better you write.
    Just marvellous, the last few posts.
    I can see the beating heart, the melancholy of corporate disillusionment and, most of all, the ‘framing historical context’ that you provide, more brilliantly, than any other football blog going.
    I have said it before but thanks again for articulating my angst far better than I would ever be able.
    It’s good to know that – while football gets worse you are only going to get better.

  32. Good afternoon All. Sterling copy YW.

    I had the pleasure of listening to Talksport this morning whist doing some work at a Fellow ex pats residence. Loathe hate him Sam Allardyce gave an Interesting insight a about a number of PL Managers and in particular the “Raison d’être).

    It was affirmed y our own Romford Pele.

    AW Klopp and Pep don’t really do defence. Conte and Mourinho are defence minded and that is there first priority.

    Allardyce stated that if ” You can’t do defence’ and prefer to concentrate on other things then you will not win the PL. He was not in any way being melicous to AW in any shape or form. He was simply giving an insight into the ‘different approaches’ by different Managers.

    We can see what Mourinho has achieved. We can Like or dislike his methods and philosophy but he gets results.

    When AW artived at Highbury the building blocks were in place. He just had to add and align a few things.

    Since the Invincibles what has AW managed to achieve. Yes top 4 but its not a trophy. The FA Cup a number of times.

    It is evident clear that AW is incapabable of buying the correct players and MORE importantly able to Coach a Team that can defend on a consistent basis.

    Just look at the beatings we have endured at the hands of Man U, Chelsea. The insepid performance v Bayern last season.

    There will be NO CHANGE until he has gone.

  33. Jonny,

    Agree. Strong stuff; quality writing and analysis. The place to go for Arsenal insight and exquisite capture of the mood unquestionably.

  34. It’s been a while and we are exactly where we all thought we would be.

    I am not a huge of Mustafi and would happily sell him if there was replacement signed simultaneously. Well, as close to simultaneous as AFC can manage. He gives the ball away and dangerous areas but worst of all gets caught out of position too often and struggles with staying goalside of his opponent. I would also prefer someone more aerially dominant – not exactly Kos’s strongest point. Cech also lacks dominance of the box.

  35. I know its ‘sort’ of thinking outside box just a bit but the other strange thing with Chambers not featuring is that for all the talk of his ability on the ball and ability to play that DM role, I wouldn’t mind giving him a shot there next to say Elneny. Chambers would offer us that discipline and with the development of his defensive abilities particular reading of the game and timing of tackles I think he would do well there but we will never know since he can’t even get in the squad just because

  36. Limestone.

    Its true, Wenger is not the man to improve players defensively. Even in his pomp it was never the most important thing for him. In fact, Wenger is not the man to improve players at all. Who has he really improved in the last 10 years?

  37. C,

    I`m not sure AW fully trusts Chambers. He`s (yet) another player who made a strong start to his Arsenal career only to hit some severe career turbulence. Rob Holding could be the current vintage.

  38. Paulie Walnuts,

    Yup and the strange thing is he was sent out on loan and unlike many, he was superb and followed that up with a strong summer where he Captained the England side and was clearly the unquestioned leader of that side.

    Its strange but like Toral and Szczesny, he had a strong loan spell only to be sold.

  39. Seri’s agent has come out with some rather strong words about PSG and the deal with Barca:

    “It was possible to reach an agreement as Barcelona and Nice were negotiating.

    “On Tuesday, they were in France, talking about technical aspects but they already knew Seri’s capabilities. PSG came three days ago.

    “Now PSG is putting pressure on the club to take the player, it’s crazy. They just want to do it to f**k Barça.”

  40. Looks like Spurs’ CL campaign could be short lived. They’ve got RM and Dortmund in the group stages, factor in Wembley and I wouldn’t fancy them. Long term with the new stadium build, restricted wage structure, and lack of a glamorous history and I can see their ‘stars’ jumping ship, probably the manager too within the next 12-24 months.

  41. Hah, an Arsenal man speaking there, Andy! To be fair, hard I know, they have built a good team over there. I am not so sure that they will fall apart.

  42. consolsbob,

    A few years back maybe they would have had time to build on that, but these days with mercenary players and clubs with bottomless pockets they’ll struggle to hold on to them. Alli for example will be off as soon as a big club offers to double his wages, rumour is that several are already sniffing around Eriksen.

    Their only hope is if they win one of the big trophies and that CL draw has already reduced their chances from poor to extremely slim in that competition at least. What a shame 🤣

  43. andy1886,

    No, I’m not talking about using Ozil as an attacking midfielder in a 3-5-2. He’d basically be playing CM (pretty much as he did against stoke) helping out elneny and coquelin advance the ball. Then you’d have the two wingers bombing forward and two forwards in attack (plus any midfielders who join the fray).

  44. @ Pete the Thirst,
    Yep, plus loyalty set in stone to every Arsenal manager from Chapman to Wenger……..while they are in charge, that is. 😉

  45. Surely the reports of Ox being offered £180,000 per week can’t be true! Thats madness and I’m sorry he isn’t worth that much.

  46. HenryB,

    I have watched Arsenal for a long time. Everybody think Alex, it a good mid fielder. I really disagree. He plays selfish. I don’t mind selling him and put Nelson in his place. I like to see Berry play on the defensive side. Other teams play long ball on arsenal. Arsenal play tiki-taki. Wast more time passing the ball.

Comments are closed.