On Ramsey, Fellaini and Other Rumours

Sometimes in the business of football transfers, there’s an obvious reason for signing a player. Stephan of Liechtenstein and Sokratis; I understand the philosophy behind those moves. Our defence needs strengthening and they are experienced players.

Sometimes, however,  a deal leaves me scratching my head. Talk this morning of Marouane Fellaini being targeted by Arsenal’s Transfer Window Action Team is one such occasion. The Telegraph is convinced we’re holding talks with the Belgian, who is available on a free transfer at the end of the month. That alone is the key to unlocking this puzzle. We like a freebie and he wants a new deal from United. Problems solved.

Except, it can be that simple, surely? The first call anyone should be making if StatDNA throws out Fellaini’s name with anything other than a message stating clearly, “Steer Well Clear”, is to the IT department to see if the club was hacked. The second is to the programmers to tell them to get their arsenal’s into gear and rewrite the damn program.

Fellaini? Has someone seen how Ramos elbowed Karius in the head, concussing him and thought, “Ja! This is the major league sh*thousery that we need at Arsenal”. Come on, you look at Sven and you know he wouldn’t be averse to use that kind of tactic in the staff six-a-side tournament. The Transfer Window Action Team are going to retain that trophy for years to come.

Then it dawned on me. There is a good reason why we might be looking at it. When I say “good”, I don’t mean good in its good vs bad meaning, but for a proper reason. This is sponsor interference. Or rather, kit manufacturer interference. The responsibility for Arsenal signing Marouane Fellaini rests solely on one set of shoulders: Puma.

Okay…Where’s This One Going?

It’s a salutary warning for the future: bad kit = bad signings. We’ve seen it in the past, which is why we’ve had the likes of Stepanovs, Silvestre, Mustafi, etc; there’s always a bad kit lurking in the background, but now, Puma are wising up to the problem.

They know they need more commercial revenues because no-one will be seen dead in the new home kit. Now, they are looking at adding comedy wigs and rubber, pointy elbows to the retail outlets. Give anything the tag ‘official merchandise’ and it will sell like hot cakes; wigs and elbows have that novelty value so loved by fans. We’ve had vuvuzelas and inflatables, now it’s wigs and elbows.

Which is in direct contrast to events surrounding the renewal of Aaron Ramsey’s contract. The mantra of ‘sign or be sold’ swirls in the air, with the favoured outlet of the senior executives, Jeremy Wilson, proclaiming the club are willing to commit “£50m” over the next five seasons to his and the treasury coffers.

As Wilson observes, in this market Ramsey is worth around £200k per week to the club, both in performances and in being cheaper than his replacement’s value. Emery’s pressing game as previously employed seems to favour a box-to-box midfielder such as Ramsey more than the impish qualities of Wilshere, for example.

I don’t doubt Jack would perform well but he isn’t the sort of player Emery would build a side around. The question is which midfielder will partner the Welshman. Granit Xhaka appears most vulnerable in the talk of Steven N’Zonzi with the latter’s defensive discipline trusted by Emery. The Swiss can do the job, we’ve seen glimpses of it in the past; the question is how long he takes to forget previously ingrained bad habits?

Your Starter for Ten…

That seems to be the ‘Plan B’ if transfer funds don’t permit. Elneny remains ‘Plan C’ or whatever letter he gets promoted/demoted to depending on the circumstances.

There are, until the pre-season friendlies begin, more questions than answers. Only once we see the first semblance of an XI put together and trying to interpret Emery’s instructions will get an idea of how the team will set up. To that point, we’re living in the present and keeping Unai on the future.

On which point, if you’re interested in a World Cup predictions competition, then email me at competitions [at] aclfarsenal dot co dot uk to take part. There’s a small prize for the winner and runner-up. Not quite sure what it is yet, but there will be something to reward your astuteness/guesses/pure flukes.

’til Tomorrow.

60 thoughts on “On Ramsey, Fellaini and Other Rumours

  1. I don’t think Fellaini is as bad as he is made out to be. He could suit the defensive midfielder role. He’ll never be a Vieira, but defensively he could suit the Emery model of two deep lying midfielders. He’d definitely break up play and be a nuisance. Maybe Xhaka could be the creative force next to him?

    Anyway it’s transfer tittle tattle season.

  2. Got to say, I’m not completely cold on Fellaini.

    Under Wenger he would have been allowed to “express” himself. Which is missing the point. If he is told to sit and hold and break things up and generally just be a bit of a c*nt all game, I think he can do that very well.

    I think we’re more likely to have someone come in that’s a bit more mobile to do that role, but if Fellaini it is, for whatever reason, so be it. He wasn’t a bad player at Everton and I think he’s been bogged down at United by not having a specific role in the squad or team and picking up the label of being a clogger. We’ve been crying out for a big and nasty clogger for years. Soon as we get linked with one, everyone carps on he’s not a “baller”?

  3. Thanks for the post yogi

    I agree with Pete and Damon. Fellaini would not be my first choice but he could be useful. I think he would add something different on the bench rather then Elneny. Xhaka leads the entire free world in short passes so we don’t need a second ball possession player like Elneny in the central midfield. Fellaini would also allow us to send maitland-niles on loan for a couple of seasons and hopefully he can beat the odds and mature into a useful player.

  4. Hey there YW, fabulous piece as per usual.

    Ramsey, though a very good player, is replaceable. Say he were sold, he’d fetch no less than £40-45 million with 12 months remaining in his contract. Though I’d rather keep him over Wilshere, whose Arsenal career has plateaued.

    There’s a soon-to-be 19 year old German whizz kid whose effficacy on the pitch has been garnering praises amongst all in the know. Mislintat and his crew need to act fast on him, before we’re prized out like we were with Mbappe. You heard it first here. 😀

  5. Damon from yesterday’s Fred regarding Sane,

    I think Sane is a top top player. I’m trying to figure out why anyone would leave him out. Has to be his attitude.

  6. Dukey,

    I think you’re probably right. I was just saying I don’t think it’s unique. Some players seem to get a pass on it, others not so

    Got to say, I think if he’s talented enough to have an ego, he’s pretty bloody close to it already. Can’t see there being many/any clubs in the world that he wouldn’t walk into the first team at?

  7. Sorry, I didn’t want Fellaini when he was at Everton and don’t want him now. Think there are plenty of options out there to be had so lets get one of them.

    Look, I don’t think Ramsey is a bad player but his greatest strength is making those late runs into the box from that box to box role and not as a 10 because he doesn’t do well in tight areas. With that said and having followed Emery’s career, he prefers his box to box players to sit and link play and press in midfield, he plays and lets his front 4 attack and focus on attack. Ramsey is replaceable, Emery wants pivots who sit and boss the midfield. At Sevilla he played Mbia/Carrico, Mbai/Krychowiak, Krychowiak/Nzonzi. At PSG he played Lo Celso/Veratti or Veratti/Rabiot, players that sit and boss the midfield not players who want to get into the box.

    The other thing is that Emery wants to keep possession so those that think we won’t have hogh possession stats need to think otherwise. Watch Sevilla and you see them bossing possession outside of against like Barca or Madrid.

  8. Damon,

    I think with Sane it is simply that Reus got fit and found his top form and we all know at his best he is sublime and Low took Brandt who is talented but works his socks off defensively.

    I think the other thing is that we see Sane every week in the PL and so few actually watch other leagues and the Germans are literally a talent factory and maybe Lowe didn’t think he was quite ready to handle that pressure, doubt it was his attitude.

  9. Damon,

    If I posted his name now, we’d be falsely linked with him in the tabloids by the end of the month. He also has a 20 year old teammate who’s scored as much goals from the LW/LFW position 2017/2018 as Welbeck has in the last two seasons combined, in twice as many appearances.

    Don’t worry I’ll refer you guys to these posts in due course. 😁 #WengerGrin

  10. If Abdou Diallo of Mainz really is only going to cost £26m, I would take him over any young CB options outside of Pavard who will cost a shit load. Diallo, from what i was reading would cost way north of £26m, but if thats all Mainz want, go forth Mislintat and bring that lad in.

  11. C,

    What are your thoughts on Saul Ninguez/Bruno Fernandes/Donny van de Beek replacing Ramsey/Wilshere? Heck even Loftus-Cheek would be preferable right now to Wilshere.

    Thankfully all 4 will be have the World Cup to showcase their abilities.

  12. Villarreal has confirmed Santi has rejoined them for pre-season as he continues to gain fitness.

  13. Borges Spinelli,

    Saul would be sublime and anybody who has watched Atletico or Spain knows just how good he really is, unfortunately can’t see Simeone letting him go as he is building around Koke and Saul. Bruno Fernandes for me acts as more of a Mhkitaryan type who is more attacker than pivot and might actually offer us something as a narrow winger type.

    Now Donny van de Beek, that would be a player I would have from Ajax who plays exactlg as Emery likes to play and at only 20/21 he has shown loads of talent already and still hasn’t scratched his potential. He would surely bring that pivot balance that Emery has always had in a sitter/dictator like Xhaka and that all around DM/CM who presses and is brilliant defensively but is also that link player.

    Thoughts on Anguissa of Marseille at DM?

  14. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I prefer genuine tough competitors to outright gbh merchants like Fellaini. Having said that, he does have skill when he chooses to use it and there have been times when we’ve been getting kicked and have had no response beyond Jack’s petulance. I’d rather not but I can almost see the thinking as a Plan B on a free.

  15. C,

    He seems a pretty solid DM and likely to become an even better player with time, in the right environment. The sort of player we used to sign in the early and mid 2000s, very Gilberto Silva-esque with a little more bite. An even slightly better DM and probably costlier option would be NDombele.

  16. Hopefully we will see a lot more tactical flexibility now that Arsene is gone. Emery’s Sevilla teams finished 5th 5th and 7th in La Liga so his strategy worked really well in Europa league but not as well in La Liga. Competition for 4th was not as intense in Spain as it is right now in England. I think its going to be tougher for any team not managed by Pep to be successful with ball possession mentality in England. Every manager has his own tactical bias but hopefully Emery will be flexible enough to alter his preferred style of play if we are struggling to break down the other teams.

  17. Borges Spinelli,

    He would be more expensive for sure but he would be a good signing for sure and something that interest me most about him is his ability to play in tight quarters and never seems to lose possession. Also very tough, tackler as well. For reference for others, he is like Dembele of Spuds but much more athletic.

  18. It does seem odd that Sane hasn’t even made the Germany squad. Clearly must be a personality clash. He has one thing that always causes defences big problems: pace.

  19. Belgium for the World Cup….?

    They have the players. If Martinez can get them working well they can go the whole way.

    Might stick a few pounds on them.

  20. I’m actually really excited that we got Lichesteiner, think he is the perfect teacher for Bellerin. Lichesteiner has been about as consistent as it comes as a RB/RWB.

  21. Sokratis father has said:

    “He is currently in England and will be doing everything he needs on Tuesday,” said the player’s father. “There was also interest from United, but he would have had to wait until July. Sokratis chose Arsenal.”

  22. Pete the Thirst,

    It is a rather strange situation re Sane.

    Raphael Honegstein is on record stating that Sane has not managed to immerse, gratiate himself into the German squad. What exactly that means USC anybody’s guess.

  23. I don’t know if fellani would be a good signing but at least he’d add a bit of height to our midfield. Tbh we’re currently linked with every player there is… I’m just interested to see who actually signs. One youth prospect, lichtensteiner and Sokritis is OK but we could really do with a midfielder and winger coming in…

  24. C,

    C:
    How do people feel about Lichesteiner?

    Legendary RB. Will not only give bellz some rest but that knowledge, if it’s passed on is priceless.

  25. I was saying on another platform, that we may as well look at Fellaini and Yaya Toure. It changes the dynamic in our midfield. The experience it offers Maitland Niles, if he were to be paired with Yaya Toure, would be immense for the young lad.

    Fellaini has his uses, and Emery is a coach who picks his tactics according to the opposition. So, if we bought Fellaini, we could see him in the 1st half against teams like City, breaking up play and wearing out the opposition, before a game changing substitution in the second half helps our chances to win the game.

  26. RE: Fellaini

    The question which we must ask is: Does he fit into Emery’s philosophy? At his unveiling last week, he said he like his team to be protagonists. To me that means offensive-minded and energetic instigators. Pressing/pressuring the opposition at every instance when without the ball. Is Fellaini a protagonist? No.

    I just can’t see how we’ll benefit from his inclusion in our squad. Beyond his obvious aerial prowess.

  27. If we can really sell Bellerin for $40-50M then it seems like a new brainer. We could use the $45M to buy a really really good DM or CB. We are much more competitive with Lichtsteiner and a top DM or CB compared with having Hector and no DM or CB. Its not even close.

  28. I’d prefer we get Ducoure. And I like Toreirra, sp?, the Sampdoria Uruguayan. I would pass on Fellaini since the last several years he has played as a long ball number 9 more than a defensive mid.

  29. Bill,

    Bellz is what, 22? Two seasons in the prem, courted by Barca, played under a declining Wenger, in a system notorious for its defensive failings. But we should sell him now that we’ve signed a 34 year old (for free) who has never played in this league, with any of these players as he acclimates himself to a new country with I’m assuming his family. No brainer? Not for me, bellz is the future. Surely?

  30. C,

    I think it is needed backup and experience for no fee. Can’t criticize that. But I am hoping we buy some midfielders who are younger and have more mobility and pace in their legs.

  31. Ras,

    Good question. Sounds like the kind of reasoning that leads to bias. You haven’t integrated well means we don’t like you for reasons that might be illegitimate but can’t fashion a genuine reason based on evidence of your skills and merit. This is problematic reasoning not only when it comes to team sports.

  32. C,

    We: Diallo. 26m sounds like a lot for a young CB. But the market has become so strangely inflated in an inconsistent way that I can’t tell what is reasonable and what isn’t anymore…

  33. Colts,

    Thank you for addressing Bill. We sign Lichesteiner to tutor Bellerin who is only 23 and plays exactly likely Lichesteiner. I guess people tend to forget that Bellerin basically played every match last season because we didn’t have a backup and please don’t say Maitland-Niles because for all the good he did, he is a CM and his performances made that quite clear when he played centrally.

  34. Limestonegunner,

    If we are willing to pay 35m fpr Soyuncu than Diallo at 26m is a steal. He is big, quick, fast, great on the ball, learned at Monaco and after his first season at Mainz, everybody took notice. A left foot CB who is comfortable in possession but a no non-sense defender is always in demand, than you realize his age plus the fact that one of the things universally agreed upon in France and Germany is that he is a natural born leader makes him even more appealing.

    The fact that Bayern chased him and Dortmund thought they had an agreement but needed to stump up more cash just shows the quality.

  35. More than anything, Lichesteiner will demand respect and he is a leader. I rember reading articles about how it was Buffon, Chelini than Lichesteiner when it came to leaders at Juve and when they spoke players listened.

  36. C,

    No worries, I was just a little confused as to why anyone would choose to sell bellz. Even if we weren’t rebuilding, I’d only sell if he asked. And even then…ha

  37. Colts,

    Exactly, he just signed and has always talked about wanting to be here and at 23 years old just needs coaching.

    Its funny people say they want Arsenal to have quality playeds tbat other big clubs chase and are committed to Arsenal yet they want to sell Bellerin but keep Ramsey and Jack……

  38. The problem with Jack is that the English game ruins his fitness. If he were off to Italy, then he would blossom there.

  39. Bill,

    Sorry mate, you often say some sensible things, but selling Bellerin this summer would be utter, utter madness.

    The idea this summer is filling in the glaring gaps in the squad. Now we’ve got RB cover, couple of centre backs, shuffle one in, one out in midfield, maybe one other body in there, deal with the loanees and a keeper might be nice/needed if one goes.

    Other than that, it’s hold what we’ve got and lets see where we are in a year’s time.

  40. Damon

    If we are offered $45M for Bellerin and refuse it would be basically the same as buying him for $45M which none of us would do after watching him the last 2 years. There have only been 3 fullbacks on the history of world football who have gone for that sort of fee. If those rumors are true Hector is vastly over priced based purely on reputation and that nebulous idea of potential. How often have we seen players whose potential goes unfulfilled at every club in Europe. The idea that he will suddenly become a world class fullback is a huge stretch at best. Even if he does reach his potential we will have been paid a world class fee and If we sell we are not losing a Rb but we would be trading a RB for a DM or CB and those 2 positions are more influential and more difficult to replace.

  41. Damon

    If you had $45M and you wanted to build a football team would you spend the money on a fullback or DM or CB. I am almost certain that very few people would choose a full back. We already have a replacement who will certainly be more then competent and buying good fullback is probably the easiest and least expensive positions on the pitch to fill.

  42. Bill,

    I’ll reply to the first one mate, but the second one is silly and I’m not even going there. And you know it.

    The problem is, to replace him. Much like letting Shezzer go for, what, £8m? It’s going to cost us three times that to replace him. Possibly and probably more. If we sell him we need another RB. I worry about Lichenstein and his pace at 34. A lot of players come to this league in their physical prime and are torn apart for pace and physicality. At 34 it could be a problem. If it isn’t now, it will be very soon. In short, he’s a stop gap for a year or two that we all hope will mentor Hector as much as possible. To get a top, top RB in, in this market? £30m? More? So why do a deal this summer? No deal is nailed on to work out and we’re not going to net more than £10m once we’ve pissed about swapping him out and replacing. We’ve got a lot of other areas that the team need to look at this summer before RB now and I think there’s going to be more than enough disruption across the squad in the next 12 months that we don’t need to be making waves where there, really, aren’t any.

    Hold him and cross your fingers he comes on a bit. Of all the youth we have at the moment, he’s the one I think will be a world beater. The fact he’s chased by all the best teams suggests the people who are paid to see these things would agree?

  43. If another club is offering £45m for Hector then they presumably see the potential that Bill clearly doesn’t.
    And they get a quality fullback for a decade.
    Agree with Damon,
    Madness to sell him.

  44. Damon

    In retrospect selling wojo was probably a mistake because we only got $10M and a replacement would be more expensive. You would not sell Hector if he was not overpriced, However, the difference with Hector is if those rumors are true we are being offered a world class fee for a player who has been average at best and might well turn out to be average and that changes everything. In retrospect, we should have sold Jack Wilshere 4 years ago when he was reportedly worth a world class fee of $50M. If you need to build a team and your resources are limited then fullback is probably not the position that you would buy a $45M player. To me the arguments for selling him are solid

  45. Phil

    I don’t dislike Hector and I would not sell him if we were only being offered $25M. However, $45M is a large amount of money even by todays standards and we would use the $45M to buy a CB or a DM who can also be quality for Arsenal for a decade. That is a very fair trade even in the unlikely event that Hector does live up to those inflated expectations. If Hector does not live up to expectation we come out way ahead but if our transfer team does its job the worst we come out is even.

  46. We have watched Hector play everyday for the last 2 years and knowing what we know I doubt anyone who would think it was a good idea for us to spend $45M to buy him today.

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