A busy day for the club with two new signings timetabled. Lucas Torreira arrived on Air Diego yesterday, ready to undergo the much-postponed medical and put pen to paper. The early(ish) end to Uruguay’s World Cup means he will be ready for action mid-to-late August. That presumes we follow FIFA guidelines for player rest and not ignore them like everyone else.
He impressed as a midfield terrier during the World Cup and the scouting reports from last season reflected a series of similar performances. That offers an interesting prospect for next season; the much-demanded midfield ‘beast’ is a pocket dynamo, not the Hulk. His meeting with the likes of Keita and Manchester City’s midfield will be interesting battles.
Will the midfield shape be revealed this weekend? The point of a squad is having alternatives and cover; Elneny and Xhaka won’t be available, so step forward Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Aaron Ramsey for this friendly at least.
All the while there is no news on his contract, the presumption is that talks aren’t going well. An awful lot of presumption and supposition about his situation but there is only one reality: we don’t know what is going on and even quotes from ‘sources close to the negotiations’ are tinged with cynicism.
Lurking in the background is the early close to the English transfer window. The mantra of ‘sign or be sold’ seeped through the initial optimism of Unai Emery building the team around the Wales international. Having seen the riches putting Arsenal over a barrel brought Mesut Özil, it’s no surprise if Team Aaron’s plan is to do the same.
Reading anything into a pat on the shoulder from Ivan when in full-on Godfather CEO mode is as useful as divining the team from the colour of bibs worn in training photos.
The midfield is an interesting area to look at. Centrally, there are Elneny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, as well as a host of youngsters. The young players – Willock, Jeff, AMN – may find themselves on loan this season. Some – I think Reine-Adelaide and Zelalem – are the obvious ones to be in the shop window on loan with Willock and AMN ready to continue their education elsewhere for a season.
Add into that number Matteo Guendozi.
His apprenticeship in Ligue 2 with Lorient is a familiar tale. Koscielny, Giroud; they learned the same way with Tours, and the former with Lorient, of course. The midfielder’s showreel featured plenty of buccaneering runs and short passes.
No goals or pre-assists but hey, that’s not what we’ve signed him for is it? No, me neither. Never seen him play, never heard of him before last week. Like every young signing, you trust the recruitment team did their homework properly and ‘Diamond Eye’ is earning his future corn.
David Ospina finds himself the goalkeeper likeliest to move on. Reports over the weekend had him linked with Boca Juniors, which feels a lot more believable than the continual Turkish links.
Others on the way out are Joel Campbell, for whom Lazio and Fenerbahce are calling. So just Lazio then; the Turkish clubs are bandied around to create the illusion of a lot of interest when really there is little. Lucas Perez meanwhile, has apparently been offered to Galatasaray; so much for the staying to impress Unai Emery.
…What’s That Secret You’re Keeping
Danny Welbeck may be saved by England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals – maybe beyond if I dare to dream – or a deep desire on Emery’s part to have a forward who shins the ball into the net. Who knows. It’s a tough call to make; Campbell, Perez, and Welbeck are all much of a muchness. I genuinely don’t think it’s an easy call to make over which two you would sell.
Maybe the coaches and Emery already know. We shall see.