For the briefest of moments, it seemed we were set for a long hot summer. Now, it’s just seeming long. Even the transfer gossip wilted in the heatwave. Deals stalled amid general disinterest at the absence of a good rumour or two, the long-running sagas ground to a halt.
But the Crash Team were on hand and flirtations can resume. With a house reportedly for sale, it was more a case of when David De Gea returned to the Spanish capital and Iker Casillas appears to have obliged with his Mr20% opining that Iker loves Porto who send that amor right back at him.
Ardal Turan, meanwhile, has joined Barcelona. Or will in January when they can register players again. In the meantime, he’ll sit around the pool, sipping Piña Colada’s. Unless Barcelona’s new president takes the opportunity to cancel the deal in the 48-hour window his election later this month.
All of which means nothing to us right now, just a hint that things are on the move. The transfer rumour mill has finished its’ pre-season training and is ready to face the challenges of the weeks ahead.
One of which is the centre of Arsenal’s midfield. Atletico’s money is burning a hole in their pocket and Santi Cazorla is the big purchase they want to make. Which is a bit of shame given that one of the central planks of the deal up to now has been Ardal Turan’s services. Arsenal wanted to do a swap deal, accompanied by a suitcase of used Euro notes for Ivan to use when the heating went out. That isn’t going to happen any more, is it?
Not that it ever was; Arsène wanted to extend Mikel Arteta’s contract and has done so for another season. It relieves the immediate pressure of needing to find a second defensive midfielder by providing cover for Francis Coquelin. Stories floated that Morgan Schneiderlin’s deal to take him to Old Trafford was all but done. All bar a gap of anywhere between £5m and £10m, depending on which report you believe. Perhaps anything but done is a better way of describing it.
Personal terms apparently undermined his preferred move to Arsenal and with William Carvalho staying in Lisbon for one more season, the ground shifted and Arsène was going to take the pre-season to assess his midfield to see if it needed bolstering. Last season’s injury record suggested that it does.
Which is really the basic point. Francis Coquelin came in and did exceptionally well, there’s no rational way to take the opposite view. This season is different. He had a low base of expectation last Christmas when he was recalled from Charlton. Now that base is higher, the bar has been raised and his performances will be under greater scrutiny. It’s a risk Arsène has to assess and one that Arteta’s contract extension mitigates to some extent.
Except that whilst the Spaniard is a good squad player whose wealth of experience and apparent popularity in the dressing room is something which shouldn’t be undervalued, is he the right solution for anything more than a couple of matches at a time?
Age catches up with all footballers and Arsenal thrived with an energetic defensive midfielder in front of the back four. Mikel Arteta is a different kind of player to Coquelin. Of course the improved form post-Christmas of the team wasn’t all down to Coquelin but having that sort of defensive barrier was a key ingredient. If Arteta is to be the alternate, it allows Wenger to rotate for games considered more straightforward.
That doesn’t obviate the need to continually improve the squad. Unless players occupy the highest level of the game, there is always an improvement in terms of abilities. Whether that option is available is another matter but if there is no tangible improvement to be had in signing someone, should a signing be made at all?
The same question is asked of the goalkeepers. Wenger has three internationals, two of whom have fallen somewhat from grace. None quite as far Wojciech Szczesny but nevertheless, David Ospina will have seen the writing on the wall. If reports are to be believed, the Colombian wants to talk to Arsène before deciding his future. His comments are determined in not burning bridges, appreciating the shifting sands each summer brings. And just in case a move to Turkey falls through…
It will be a major surprise if there isn’t any further transfer activity, in and out of the club this summer. It’s fairly difficult to believe that Podolski and Diaby will be the only two senior players leaving, there is plenty of speculation around Campbell and Rosicky whilst most of think Flamini and Sanogo will too head to the exit. Whether anything happens is another matter.
There is a long way to go in the transfer window and if nothing else, we know Arsenal do like a late deal or two.