Considering that most of the first team squad are on
holiday fine-tuning their pre-season fitness with their national teams, the media are trying to suggest that this could be a busy week for the manager. Arsène had already had an inkling that it might be so; no sooner had the plane touched down at Luton on Sunday when his phone rang. Instead of the loving tones of his wife declaring she had missed him, it was a slurring Govan boy demanding the release of Robin. Apparently Fergie was none too chuffed when Arsène replied that he could not possibly tell him whether Robin was free and that if he really wanted to know, Fergie would have to sit throughThe Dark Knight Rises and stay awake this time, to find out the answer.
As if. It certainly was a new angle for the papers to take, an all-action Manchester United manager on the phone to save their
ailing share price summer by signing Dutch striker. I have no doubt that there is a genuine desire for van Persie to sign for them on the part of player and club. But there is a bigger desire not to pay through the nose for him and that this pursuit is not going to be easy to resolve.
There is a mistaken belief that Arsenal cannot afford not to sell him, the presumption being that this will fund more spending. However, with no-0ne willing to match the asking price, many believe Arsenal will capitulate and sell at well below the oft-quoted sum of £20m. I do not see that this is the case. Arsenal have spent more this summer with half an eye on next as well. The midfield has been strengthened as has the forward line; the latter is definitely looking to the future without the Dutchman.
Whilst Arsenal will spend money next summer, they will not need to spend as much as this year nor on so many players. On top of which, retaining van Persie offers the opportunity to challenge for silverware. In turn, this means higher prize money which can more than make-up the shortfall in transfer revenues. For example, progressing to the Champions League Quarter-Finals or further in the FA Cup. Quick wins that easily mount up. There is no immediate need for the sale and whilst it helps the business model, Arsenal are not dependant upon this transfer to sustain themselves. It is just too simplistic to claim such to be true.
Judging by the photos released to the media, I wonder if Robin is thinking of asking for a transfer to the Spanish national team. He looked distinctly unhappy in the Dutch training camp.
As it is, Arsenal are proposing a change to Premier League rules which will enable them to charge clubs in the division a fee for using their scouting services since they are all too lazy to employ enough of their own to do the job. Latest in a long line of threatened hijackings to Arsène’s summer transfer activity is Liverpool (once again) who want Cristian Tello. As far as I have seen, the only time that the Barcelona winger has been mentioned is as a makeweight in selling Alex Song to Barcelona.
The Cameroonean is being more cute about it all, pledging his loyalty to Arsenal whilst at the same time being flattered by the Catalan interest. At the end of the day, which player would not be? Too often we impose our own loyalties on players who are nothing more than employees. Even those who we claim as one of our own are motivated by money; rare are those such as Adams and O’Leary who spend their career at one club (or the majority of it). Let’s not forget either that the club is never shy of selling players who have served their purpose; it’s a two-way street.
Elsewhere, the club has confirmed that Ryo has gone to Wigan on loan – another reason why Tello is not a serious target – whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny have withdrawn through injury from their respective national squads for this week’s meaningless friendlies. The former’s injury is not considered serious but no news on the latter’s yet. Playing friendlies at this time is contentious; England are making money by playing Italy in Switzerland which underlines the reasons for the matches. Fifa has continually stated that this week is set aside for internationals but that matches do not have to be played, it is a decision for the FAs as to whether or not they do. Simple way to solve the problem but Fifa do not have the cojones to take it, do they?