When he was young, Arsene didn’t dream of a life in football; all he cared about was having his little workshop and living a life of rustic charm as a mechanic. These days, he still references that lost innocence with his frequent references to handbrakes being on and off.
The transfer market is the latest handbrake which is on. Other clubs, according to Le Boss, have theirs on which is why Arsenal haven’t signed anyone. You might argue that their reticence should have led to a dynamic approach from the club and who am I to argue with you?
But it seems everyone is getting jolly excited by Riyad Mahrez. This morning’s Sunday Mirror told us that Arsenal were ready for a £75m “double swoop” for the Algerian and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette. That’s £35m for Mahrez and £40m for Lacazette.
Neither it seems has release clauses; just Mahrez has a clause which requires Leicester to talk to clubs which make a bid. It’s why N’Golo Kante left for Chelsea for £32m not the £20m which triggered the Vardy farce. And no, that wasn’t Arsenal’s fault before you ask. Not entirely, anyway.
Mahrez’s agent was first to pour water on the deal, claiming Arsenal hadn’t bid yet which is fine, the Mirror tells us that it’s being prepared. Claudio Ranieri, unsurprisingly you may claim, offered the view that Mahrez smiled when he scored an outstanding goal yesterday at Celtic and wouldn’t get into another team on a regular basis.
He would at Arsenal, Claudio. Especially with Alexis having ankle-knack that has caused him to be left out of the US tour, with the same decision applied to those players whose countries progressed beyond the Round of Sixteen in France.
Anyway, Mahrez. Despite the madness which engulfed the club over Luis Suarez, we’re still pinning our hopes on release clauses existing. It became obvious during the Kante talk that Leicester don’t have release clauses in the traditional sense just those which compel the club to talk to prospective buyers. If they can’t agree a fee, they don’t have to sell.
Which is why I don’t believe Mahrez is coming to us and certainly not as part of a quick double signing. It’s just not going to happen. Sorry if that crushes any belief you may have in the deal being done but look at the recent history; does this story make sense?
Not that I would argue against either player joining. We need goals and with Higuain all but signing a deal with Juventus, we’re running out of options. I bet the MLS All Stars and Chivas are genuinely concerned about facing Campbell, Walcott or Akpom. Let’s not even contemplate the friendly against City in Gothenburg. The Premier League season is just three weeks away.
Per Mertesacker agrees.
“The way last season went, we were quite lucky to finish second.
“We turned things around at the end but it was kind of a miracle we finished runners-up.
“What really disappointed us was that Leicester were able to take advantage of all the other big teams suffering and we couldn’t do the same. That will be a big motivation next season — to keep up with all those good teams who finished behind us.
“Of course, those big clubs will be stronger this time. That’s what I expect as they’ll start the season with a lot of new players.
“A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.
It’s going to be tough next year anyway. With just Granit Xhaka added who will start in the first team – Holding looks a promising longer-term prospect – at the moment, we’ve hamstrung ourselves. There is a dearth of world-class striking talent at the moment with Higuain’s fee underlining that.
Which suggests that we are shopping at a level below, comparable in status to Giroud in terms of the world game. Talk of the transfer window being open three weeks is wilfully misleading. All that signals is a time when players can be registered. The signing of Xhaka proved that work can be carried out beforehand. It’s a shame we weren’t able to do so with a new striker as well.
Vardy was the option, I understand that, but all the reports indicate that we offered him £20k per week less than Leicester for 1 year less. No disrespect to the Foxes but we have the financial clout to outpay them. The impression, rightly or wrongly, is that we saw an opportunity but didn’t go for it wholeheartedly.
You can argue all you want about whether Vardy was the right player but now the market knows we want a striker and prices are going to rise as they sense our increasing desire for the ‘commodity’ – the economist in Arsene knows that.
It’s where the club has to unlock the financial straitjacket. The quick PR spin on Ivan’s rhetoric didn’t shake lose his words; value is still the over-riding attribute in the club’s transfer business. It’s difficult to break that ethos, that belief but as the summer progresses, the sense is Arsenal will, at the very least, have to make their adherence to that rule more malleable.