Just for a moment longer, I am going to sit and enjoy the debacle which unfolded in Manchester and Madrid over the David De Gea transfer. Or what was proposed to be his transfer between two of Europe’s elite. United’s dealings this summer have descended from the pro-active, decisive signing of Depay to complete farces in both signing and selling.
I am sure that somewhere a loophole is being exploited, a computer glitch in someone’s department is being prepared as the excuse why the paperwork was apparently filed late, with system clocks turned back five minutes to fake the meeting of a deadline. Real Madrid versus LPF; the biggest club in the League is hoping that the decision-maker in this case is not a socio at Barcelona.
It seems inconceivable that officials won’t register the deal. For an average player, I am sure that it would be an open and shut case. For the goalkeeper of La Roja? Rules are made to be bent, broken and disintegrated in such cases but this is the opportunity for the League to issue a bloody nose to the bully and it must be sorely tempting for them to do so. Not as sore as Ed Woodward’s backside if the deal is not ratified, that’s for certain.
Which is all a pleasant and very welcome distraction from Arsenal. A warning too; the 6pm deadline to accommodate the cut-off for Champions League squads five hours later is tight; it’s upon us, no room for mistakes or margin for error. If anyone is arriving today, the deals are almost complete with frantic legal brows furrowed over the minutiae of the contracts between seller, player, buyer and every other party to the deal. A time when the rich get richer but in the end the lawyers make the most money.
Arsène is reportedly in Paris which strikes me as more of a holiday than meeting players unless they are French; I am sure it is a short hop, skip and jump from the airport to Clairefontaine or wherever it is Les Bleus are training ahead of their friendly in Portugal later this week. He is unlikely to be meeting with Edinson Cavani, for example, unless the Uruguayan was given permission to be late joining his national squad for their friendly in Panama on Friday. I think that might have reached the newspapers by now, don’t you?
Adrien Rabiot is the other name mentioned. Any lingering hopes for signing Karim Benzema were dashed when Olivier Giroud wistfully mentioned the club’s failure to land the summer’s biggest prize in an interview. I doubt Giroud would have been so positive about his arrival had a deal been reached with Real.
For a moment, I’ll just wistfully sigh at the prospect of another season being faced with Arsenal two players short once again. At the moment, it is not detrimentally so but the nagging doubt at the back of the mind – this is Arsenal, we always suffer an injury crisis at some point – won’t go away; the ghosts of the past which swirl around every tackle.
It seems unlikely there will be any more departures from the club although with the Turkish transfer window still open, the possibility exists for Campbell or Flamini to seal a late move to whichever one of the Istanbul clubs is deemed to have the cash to burn.
But that isn’t the issue. The squad, in my view, needed a striker and ideally a holding midfielder to strengthen. A good squad is two players short of being very good, an all too familiar feeling around this time of year. No amount of spin can turn zero home wins from the first two games into a good start; Arsenal have allowed a five-point gap to emerge and are on the back foot already. It’s a gap which easily changes when City drop points so whilst concerning, isn’t as definite as last season but it’s only one bad result away from becoming onerous.
Aaah, but this is Arsenal. We do like a late deal, don’t we? The money spent in the last couple of summers has been used to spin the club away from the ‘panic buyer’ to serious investor. You can be both and for those of us who think a ‘big’ signing isn’t possible today, we remember Mesut Özil, a welcome opportunistic signing at the end of a window when form, as now, was patchy. Arsenal’s next opponents are Stoke at The Emirates; isn’t that where the German made his home début? Maybe…
Football’s longest day may be shorter than usual but at what point do the ‘Not Signing Anyone’ stories begin? Early afternoon? Late morning? 5.59pm? Place your bets, Ladies and Gentlemen; place your bets.