When the talk is all about Leonil Messi reportedly considering a move to Arsenal before he signed his new mega-deal at Barcelona, you know how quiet it is. At best, that story tells you everything you need to know about the club in the transfer market. It isn’t a sign of misguided ambition on Arsenal’s part, no, but the question I immediately asked was this. If he signed a deal for £320k per week, what was the offer before his agent let slip that Messi was interested in a move to north London? How much more money did his Mr20% squeeze from the Camp Nou coffers after that snippet left his lips?
I am not quite sure why Messi’s alleged interest recalls this but in my younger days, I fancied making an album. It was to be called “Tall Tales For Short People” but the notion was left floundering in the sands of time, failing to gain traction mainly because I can’t hold a musical note with the same confidence and precision that I can a pint.
Proof positive that it is indeed a quiet day.
Elsewhere, Arsène has reportedly asked that Chris Smalling or Phil Jones be makeweights in the deal for Thomas Vermaelen that Manchester United are actively pursuing. The Belgian has not confirmed his departure, instead seeking talks with the club over his future. Wenger’s interest in Smalling and Jones is not surprising; United beat us to both their signatures when they left Fulham and Blackburn Rovers respectively. Either serves as a replacement for Vermaelen if he leaves and I suppose Jones is preferrable with his versatility. Smalling, however, strikes me as more of an ‘Arsène’ type centre back, comfortable on the ball and bringing it out of defence whilst not being overly bothered with the defensive side of the game. Nastasic has emerged as a contender for a central defensive role but it seems unlikely that City would sell to a rival club even if Arsenal were interested.
Whatever the outcome, it is apparent that Arsenal are still looking for a fourth centre back to take Bacary Sagna’s place. That is where the French international is really missed; replacing him is a two-man job. It seems unlikely that another right back is coming which means that Carl Jenkinson is probably not joining Serge Gnabry on going out on loan for experience. The problem with a loan spell is that Arsenal can’t dictate to a Premier League club that he play x number of games; the rules don’t allow it so whilst we assume he will play week in, week out, the reality is that he probably won’t. In those circumstances, playing regularly in the Championship can be preferable.
A lot of the midfield issues, Gnabry included, seem to hinge on whether Abou Diaby’s fitness issues are behind him. Wenger spoke recently about this,
“If we get Diaby back it will be a major asset for the team. At the moment we go step by step but he came through the game on Saturday so that is very good news for us.”
I am not sure if the manager will put off signing a new ‘water carrier’ type of player purely based on Diaby’s fitness; it would be folly. Wenger is more acutely aware that the player’s issue is not so much the first month after his return but two or three down the line. At that point, the window is closed, leaving the squad diminished for a quarter of the season or more. I genuinely hope Diaby does get fit, stay fit and go on to have a great time for the rest of his career. Whether that is at Arsenal, well, time will tell. For the manager to defer signing someone on the prospect of Diaby staying the course? It isn’t a risk I would want to be taking on the back of 45 minutes at Borehamwood.
With everyone’s favourite Hamez now at The Bernabeu, talk once more circled around Sami Khedira coming to Arsenal, even if that idea had been quashed last week. Mind you, that didn’t stop the Balotelli rumours resurfacing so you have to give the various Mr20%‘s involved top marks for flogging the dead horse back to life so that they could flog it to death once more. Just to add spice to the occasion, AC Milan fly to New York this week and Inzaghi noted his appreciation that Mario would be joining them in the city. He didn’t actually say that the Italian international would be staying with them in the city…
Real will have an undeniably potent attack on paper but to be honest, defensively they do not look anything like sound. It’s a philosophy Wenger will appreciate; better to win 6 – 5 than 1 – 0, unless it is a European tie in which case the latter is always the better option. Which vaguely segues into the Champions League draw. UEFA insist that FC Copenhagen play the away leg of their tie in Ukraine despite the Danes informing them that they couldn’t get any flights to the country nor could they get any insurance for travelling to that part of the world. The US military has a term for it and UEFA are specialists in it.
Copenhagen’s spokesman stomped around telling the world that he hoped the big clubs faced the same problems his would in this tie which sounds something of a defeatist attitude to take, suggesting that his side would exit in the Third Qualifying Round tie. In fact, it is a defeatist attitude. There seems little chance of the Ukrainians being given a mouth-watering tie should they go through; UEFA, unlike FIFA, are past masters at frigging draws at club or international level when politics dictate the need. They did so in the late 1960s with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia with that theme continuing as they declared Russian clubs would not meet their Ukranian counterparts.
Arsenal won’t complain if they avoid a long journey this early in the season and UEFA won’t be unhappy if Copenhagen and Limassol win their qualifying round ties.
Back later with another US tale.