Return of the Curse, Alexis and Lemarr, And A New Toy

Just when you thought it was safe. Aaron Ramsey scores, another celebrity dies. Farewell, Commander Koenig; rest in peace.

It was a curse which niggled at Ramsey and one which he thought was itself laid to rest but no, alas not. 2017 is turning out to be as much of a pig of a year as 2016 in that sense.

Arsenal arrived in Shanghai ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Bayern, before finishing off the tour with Chelsea on Saturday.  Mixed feelings about Chelsea. Obviously fond ones of the 3 – 0 gubbing and the FA Cup final but recent years have left me battle scarred, more so than when we habitually lost at Stamford Bridge in the 70s and 80s.

Back then, it was infuriating; maddening because no matter how bad Chelsea’s team was – and they had some shocking teams in those days – they never lost to us. Indeed, the only win we had at Stamford Bridge in the period 1975 to 1993 that I can recall was the 1978 FA Cup semi-final over Orient.

As for Bayern, let’s just leave it that the odds of a 5 – 1 scoreline are 40/1. 150/1 for Arsenal to win by that margin, in case you believe in footballing karma. Me neither.

After the relatively hectic schedule of two games in 48 hours, this week is relatively sedate. It gives plenty of time for jolly japes like watching the players learn kung fu (chortle). Surely there will be footage one of the goalkeepers using chopsticks for the first time and making a complete hash of it, in a metaphor for the whole season (uneasy rofl) before visiting the Great Wall, which will have me spouting some witticism about how it’s built more solidly than Arsenal’s in Sydney last Saturday (ho and indeed, ho).

Tell Us Dave, Tell Us

The press conferences meanwhile, will be about who we’re going to sign and when is Alexis joining Manchester City. Amazingly, no-one asks Arsène about Thomas Lemar; are they scared of jinxing the transfer or do they get told beforehand not to ask, for fear of letting our interest become public knowledge.

Ornstein this morning tweeted that a deal for the French youngster seems some way off:

There’s a new toy in the shop window this morning. Or at least one which didn’t sell earlier in the summer so was taken out of the light and moved to a dingy shelf. Now the sun has returned, Moussa Dembele is back in the light once more with Arsenal reportedly looking to sign the Celtic wunderkinder supposedly our favourite Alexis replacement if we don’t land Lemar. Or Mbappe.

Or Riyad Mahrez, who has apparently got fed up with Arsenal not bidding for him and is set to join Roma in a rumoured £30-40m deal, which is far more reasonable than the £50m he was apparently worth when we were interested in him.

Footloose, Fast & Loose

Anyway, Alexis isn’t leaving because we’re playing hardball. Yes, fast and loose with next year’s transfer funding is the new black for Arsenal. Fast and loose with this year’s funding is Jose Mourinho’s mantra and the disproportionate reaction in the media to Romelu Lukaku’s ‘debut’ against LA Galaxy underlines the insatiable desire for football ‘news’.

Yes, we all laughed at the video clip of his miscontrol of the ball in training but just because a striker doesn’t score in a friendly is hardly indicative of the player being a waste of money. How long before he’s a £75m bargain and Lacazette a £53m flop?

Second game of the season, probably. No doubt a club chairman somewhere will deride him as a ‘Carlos Kickaball’? Usually the chairman of a club whose squad is filled with decidedly average players who couldn’t make into our reserves.

That’s it for today save to mention that there’s a new album of the week on Dad’s Jukebox.

’til Tomorrow.

51 thoughts on “Return of the Curse, Alexis and Lemarr, And A New Toy

  1. Hardball…smardball

    The board will take the money, Sanchez will leave for Man City in the 3rd week of August. Giroud will stay!

  2. I have no doubt that Arsenal will sell Sanchez to City before the season starts if he doesn’t sign a new contract. which is looking increasingly unlikely with each passing day. Then Arsene will use part of the money to buy some an obscure youngster just to parcify the fans.

  3. That’s just what I was concerned about. The protracted negotiations suggested that AFC would lose the chance to sign Lemar as other players depart instead.

    Promising start to the summer but perhaps old patterns die hard for AFac and momentum was lost. Good luck keeping Sanchez. This also suggests Lemar was a replacement for him. That says it all!

  4. Good stuff Yogi.

    The next two pre-season matches will be fun, Chelsea and Bayern in hot AF Shanghai, should be interesting.

    I’m not as confident in most that Lemar is coming but I would much rather have Dembele because that lad is going to be one of Europe’s best in a very short time. Big, strong, athletic and clinical but like Lacazette, a former winger who still possess that close control and ability to make a pass, yup sign him up and send Giroud and or Theo on their way but if he is a replacement for Sanchez then so be it too. The Lemar situation is one that Monaco can simply play hard ball on because they have already sold Bernardo Silva and Bakayoko.

  5. @Damon

    Pep has had the money, remember mate he was at Bayern who not only spend loads of cash but give out crazy sums of money and have that sort of “who doesn’t want to play for Barca”.

  6. Afternoon,

    It almost as if Monaco were expecting to lose a few players this summer, but didn’t want to lose too many so there was a point at which they put their foot down. Maybe they still see Mbappe as a potential departee to RM for £120m late in the transfer window, so why sell Lemar now? Perhaps if we had been in earlier we could have grabbed Lemar before the shutters came down. With the Bakayoko deal taking so long because of his medical we needed to be quick of the mark to put cash on the table for Lemar. Unfortunately we don’t really do ‘quick off the mark’ in these circumstances.

  7. Wavey,

    Monaco are always going to sell their best players, the stadium seats only 18,523, there is no room for expansion and real estate prices are way beyond astronomical. To stay within the financial boundaries set by UEFA they have no other choice.

    They must have an amazing scouting network to keep turning up talented youngsters and an even better coaching set up to turn them into top quality footballers wanted by many of Europe’s top clubs.

    I suspect that they are waiting to see if Real will make an offer in excess of €120 million for Mbappe before inviting bids for Lemar.

    In those circumstances, Celtic’s Dembele looks like a more achievable target.

  8. Limestonegunner,

    “Promising start to the summer but perhaps old patterns die hard for AFC and momentum was lost….”


    We identified our targets as Lacazette and Lemar but then seemed unable to pursue the two simultaneously. In the interim Monaco had moved Silva (very) early days and Chelsea were obviously well down the line with Bakayoko.

    With Sanchez still casting a shadow it appears we were too indecisive regarding Lemar.

    However, perhaps Monaco also got carried away with themselves and all the attention…and now they are coming back down to earth. A friend posed something interesting the other day. He asked how would we know if Mbappe was ever truly for sale let alone if anyone had actually bid?

    It’s been fantastic PR on Monaco’s behalf and sparked an interest in another three players (primarily). But after closing on two, there was an odd pull back regarding Lemar where it almost appeared as if they realized they were on the verge of destabilizing the team.

    If they planned all along on keeping Mbappe another year, they need him performing in a functioning team to get the massive payoff.

    If they weaken to the degree he has a lesser year, everyone would re-evaluate the need to pay a world record fee for the teenager. It’ll be interesting to see if the likes of RM do or do not make a public bid for him.

    As for us, I suspect this is going to end up as an odd, confused window – but hope I’m proved wrong.

  9. C,

    I am following this in complete and utter disbelief. Selling is one thing, but for this laughable fee?

  10. DFS-,

    I am in disbelief at that laughable fee, I really am. The fact that Juve have chased him all summer and sold their back-up to sign him is one thing but for Arsenal to hand him over is just incompetent. 10m for a GK who is set to enter his prime, rated #2 the past to years in Serie A only behind Buffon and who is a main reason Roma put up back to back real challenges to Juve for the title; good ol Arsenal. The funny thing is the fact that Pickford went for 30m and his club got relegated.

  11. Hi Guys

    We all agreed [sort of ] at the beginning of the transfer window not to get sucked into the crazy world of alleged bids and counter-bids for this player or that.

    Our ‘news’ is supplied almost exclusively by rumour, innuendo, wishful thinking and ‘exclusives’ from someone or other in the know. The Mbabbe case is one in point. ‘Arsenal make a £90m bid’ – ‘Arsenal increase their initial bid to £120m’ – ‘Monaco waiting for Real to bid’ – ‘Cat eats small, Arsenal supporting mouse’ etc . OK the last one has not come out just yet, I am still looking for a sucker ‘well known website’ to bite.

    Interestingly, or not, Wenger when quizzed for an update made It clear that Arsenal had not made a bid – let alone increased it, and said many other clubs were interested in Mbappe, but he thought he might stay there for another season, but seemed unmoved by any move to bring him to Arsenal.

    The rumour machine was talking bollix, and that seems true re the Thomas Lemar stories too — they appear to be just that – stories. Even so called ‘reliable’ BBC journalists like Ornstein seem to be part of the ‘close your eyes and name your rumour’ as he has waxed and waned about the Lemar transfer being definite and nearly done – to – it is unlikely that Lemar will be joining Arsenal.

    Rationalising stories built on shifting stand is pointless, me thinks. 😀

  12. DFS-,

    I’m pretty sure Mendy is off to City ( for daft money) so Monaco are unlikely to want to lose a fourth & even fifth player this summer , as Fabinho & Mbappe are both linked with moves.

    We’ve known for months that Sanchez was almost certainly leaving so Lemar should have been lined up & the deal completed weeks ago but we procrastinate & dither & probably miss out completely.

    It really wouldn’t surprise me to see Sanchez leave & Lemar join a rival such as Spurs !

  13. C,

    Don’t quite understand your seeming outrage at the alleged sale price for Chezzer. It is not your money – so what does it matter to you.

    Of course, Stan will be delighted you are so caring regarding his assets/players/money – and not so thrilled that you are accusing him of being incompetent at looking after his money.

    Me? I could not care less personally – nothing to do with me. 😀

  14. HenryB,

    I give a shit about Stan or his money and I think you know my feelings about both Cech (no way should he be automatic #1) and Sczcesny (could not only be the present but the future and is just now entering his GK prime).

    Its the fact that we are about to sell him for a pitiful 8-10m, reports say 50-60m for Sanchez when we just saw Walker go for 50m and Everton demand nothing short of 50m for Barkley. Either Arsenal are shit at negotiating (though I will admit the Lacazette fee was brilliant but then Lyon sold their club captain and a quality DM for 5m, so) or the other clubs are brilliant, I’ll let you decide 😉 .

  15. Just a thought, but we can’t complain about not having the funds to compete (I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that anyway) and at the same time accept that we aren’t very good at getting a good price when we sell. We used to be good at it, buying low and selling high, and I can’t understand why we seem to have lost the knack.

  16. I hear you C – but I still don’t care a hill of baked beans about any of it.

    Chezzer’s almost gone – do I care whether we got $1m or $10m or $50m for him? It does not get into my pocket – so no – I still do not care.

    With any of the players coming in – I am only interested in those words ‘coming in’ – how much wealthy Stan pays for them does not concern me at all – not my money – not my worry – I have enough real worries of my own. 😀

    Hopefully we will still get another striker in – maybe Dembele [we have often spoken about him] or Lemar if things go well — but do I care what is paid for them? No. And that will not change.

  17. What is worse is Szcz is counted as homegrown if he is sold in the EPL.
    If the Arsenal let our best keeper go for $10 mil, then the whole negotiating staff needs to be fired.
    Get a darn holding mid, pick up another scorer to add to our front line, and move some more deadwood!

  18. HenryB,

    I hear you mate and trust, I have enough real world problems too, but for the general masses that tend to care about it, I actually agree with andy, why are so all of a sudden so shit at selling.

    To be honest, I just want to get under the skin of some today, but part of it is true based on what the club is telling us. Personally not my money but again, I’m speaking in terms of the actual player (the fee is just laughable in the current climate) who doesn’t make sense to sell.

    Dembele, I would gladly take especially if Sanchez is off.

  19. HenryB,

    I guess that’s the other part that doesn’t make ANY sense to me, we are said to need to keep a quota of homegrown players and we have one in Sczcesny that is also quality and wants the #1 shirt yet he is being shifted out when instead we could shift out say: Ospina, Jack, Gibbs, Jenks, Debuchy, one of Theo or Ox and then send Martinez out of a season long loan and then ship Cech off next summer.

  20. Isn’t Szczesny in last year of his Arsenal contract?
    Why would Juve pay more for a keeper Wenger deemed less important than the keeper Arsenal were offered €3.5m for by Fenerbahce?

    You can complain, and perhaps rightly so, about Arsenal’s contract planing and renegotiations policy but once a player goes into his last year, the advantage shifts in his and the buying club’s favor.

    Besides, Arsenal never play hard ball with their players’ contracts because it’s not their style to do so. The main reason for that is Wenger being in charge of all final decisions and his unwavering willingness to keep players happy.

    There is no buffer between Wenger and his players the way there are at clubs with the director of football, where the manager can absolve himself from making the tough financial decision and still keep a warm on the field relationship with a player in question.

    That’s how you end up with players like Jenkinson on £45k or Gibbs on £60k per week and inability to shift them on to other clubs without subsidizing part of their pay.
    There’s a reason no Arsenal player has had a bad word to say about Wenger , ever. They might want to leave for another club to make more money or win more trophies, but they always speak fondly of Wenger.

  21. Is it true that Jay Z wanted Beyoncé to name their twins Sir Chips and Lord Aris as proof of his love of Arsenal?

  22. Great post Yogi

    I would surprised although not completely shocked if Alexis played for us next season and then moved on for free next year. I would completely shocked if Alexis signed a long term contract with us. Losing Alexis without another player coming in would put us in the same place we were last season or may be even worse. I am excited about Lacazette but its asking a lot for him to match the numbers that we got from Alexis last season. Alexis has some warts as a player but he was very productive.

  23. What I don’t understand is why no other teams are interested in Wojo if the price is around $10M. If someone is in the last season of his contract and there is no competition for a bidding war then we have no real options. If no one else is bidding and Juve only wants him on the cheap then there is no levarage to get a better price.

    Several big teams need a new GK including Real Madrid and Man City and Liverpool to name a few and all of those teams should be able to afford Wojo’s wages. Real Madrid is not a stupid club and if they rated Wojo as highly as we do then they would certainly be interested in him at $10M which is much much lower then the cost would be for De Gea and 1/3 then the cost of Jordan Pickford. Additionally if Real could get a GK they rated for only $10-12M it would probably leave them enough money to go after someone like MBappe

  24. Good question, Bill.

    For every sale there needs to be a willing seller, and a willing buyer.
    For the best sale price there needs to be more than one willing buyer, otherwise the only deal is whatever the single buyer is prepared to offer, or No Deal.

    You have already answered the question — no one else seems interested enough to bother to make an offer – and Wenger wants to off-load.

    It is what is known in economics as supply and demand. Where supply exceeds demand ……….. Go figure. 😀

  25. Bill,

    Madrid don’t want him and if you have followed them even a little, they don’t want ANY OTHER GK but De Gea. Madrid aren’t a stupid club but they are COMPLETELY different then any other club. Not to mention they are the best club in Spain and they want the best Spanish GK and the best Spanish GK, who just so happens to be one of the best in the world, wants to go there; they make that happen no matter what else is going on. Its the samething that happened with Buffon’s move to Juve, Nueur’s move to Bayern and why PSG chased Lloris prior to him signing a new contract.

    If you haven’t been paying attention, Citeh signed their new GK really really early in the window and he is exactly the type of GK that Pep wants: a GK that is comfortable with the ball at his feet, has brilliant distribution. Liverpool, maybe they did register interest (who knows) but their is also Sczcesny who is Arsenal through and through. the other thing is, if Juve wanted you to replace possibly the best GK of all-time; for him it might be Juve or Arsenal and nothing else.

  26. Szczesny was wanted by Napoli, Roma, Juve. Problem is, in Italy he would always chose Juve.

    Are we really judging Szczesny by that, if that was the case than nobody wanted Casermo but Madrid and now he is one of the first names on the Madrid team sheet. Are we now questioning how good Szczesny is, I think Juve are pretty damn good at this recruiting don’t you think?

  27. Top post Yogi. There is no end to the permutations of the silly season!

    One of the silly season memes stuck in my head is how to return to the CL. What are the chances with Alexis and what are the chances with a player brought in from the sale of Alexis? Will having Alexis in the squad, and then seeing him go on a free, give the club the best possible chance of qualifying for the CL this coming season? Is that worth more to the club, in monetary terms, than selling him, taking the fee, spending more on another player (who may or may not do well in the PL right from the start), and seeing how it goes for CL qualification?
    Who knows? Maybe there is an argument to be made, I’m not going to make it but it is interesting to think about, that Alexis is worth more to the club riding out his contract and going on a free because it gives the best chance of qualifying for the CL in 2017/18, which means more dosh for the coffers, more chance of landing quality players, etc .
    If this does happen would Alexis still perform at his usual level? He certainly has the reputation as hard working and someone who conducts themselves as a professional no matter what. He would also be auditioning for a job at another club and that should provide some motivation to not just bottle it. Keeping him would be a big risk, but maybe more of a known risk than bringing in an unknown.
    Just some random thoughts. Negotiating the silly season with objectivity is like trying to herd cats.

  28. I have to say, setting aside the fee received for Szczesny , well done to him for landing at Juve. In this day and age it would be hard to do any better then learning at the feet of Buffon. What a great opportunity for him. I hope he learns as much as he can and then is able to translate that into a great career.

  29. C,

    You have turned the question on its head.

    It is not a matter of us (the fans) judging Chezzer – it is the football clubs who did not think enough of him to bid a miserable £11m.

    Frankly it does not matter how the fans value him – it matters not at all – it is how the clubs value him.

    Best to let that go buddy — what is – is. 😀

  30. Gris Gris,

    I think you’ve nailed Wenger’s argument to the Board on Alexis firmly on the head. If Wenger’s main target is to get the team playing CL football again he must be weighing up whether he can do that job without Alexis. If the answer is a firm ‘no’ then Alexis sees out his contract and Arsenal probably has its best chance of getting back into the CL. Alexis loves to be on the pitch, so I’d be surprised if there was any suggestion of him downing tools and, as you said, he needs to perform to get the best deal for himself on a free next summer. When you put yourself in the shop window, you better make sure you look really appealing to potential buyers.

  31. Rumour has it that we’re about to sell Chambers to Palace for £20m (and Gibbs to WBA for £12m plus the £12m for Szcz). I would be surprised, with us playing three CD’s why would we sell? Remember Kos’ unreliable hamstrings (and he’s not getting any younger) and Nacho’s other duties at LB and it sounds a bit risky. Perhaps Bielik is edging closer to a squad place?

  32. HenryB,

    Sorry I don’t think or operate like that mate. 😉

    I am somebody who always questions, especially when it comes to quality, whether its players or coworkers. People or should I say Gooners always talk about no other big clubs wanting our players or us not having quality players entering their prime and then when they do, they let them go for pennies and assume Cech, who was good but no great, and is on the downside of their career go unchallenged, I will ask questions; sorry mate its in my nature for better or worst.

  33. Paulie Walnuts,

    This is the issue I’m really trying not to think about – the possibility of Sanchez forcing a departure and we fail to provide anything approximating ‘cover’.

    Of course the other issue being when precisely are we going to secure sales (which we need to do to even comply with squad limitations). We are month and a half in and all I am seeing is Debuchy getting himself sorted (there’s an irony) after being let go on a free.


    for all the reasons you stated I think an awful lot of people are going to question what happened regarding the Szczesny deal. I think I’ll keep my powder dry until confirmed and then likely let rip.

    One point of agreement for now- Butland for 30 million and 35 million for Ederson?

  34. DFS-,

    Yea all speculation plus his loan officially ended July 1 so we will see. I am just openly wonder and should it be confirmed then I will probably really let go.

  35. andy1886,

    This is precisely the sort of issue which leaves you befuddled regarding what Arsenal are doing in the market.

    We have deadwood we need to shift (Gibbs etc) as well as several players whose careers have stalled that could provide further options for sales (Walcott etc).

    Then a player such as Chambers who appears a great asset to retain (coming from a season loan where he received universal praise), in an area we know could get hit by injury …and yet he can be sold?

    My guess – the likes of Chambers can be moved (a profit made on his good form) in order to retain one of the ‘favorites”, the stale.

    As I said up top, its beginning to feel like we will be all over the map this window. I’ve endeavored to be positive and pragmatic about possibilities for this window but is there any escaping Arsenal being Arsenal? Not sure there is.

  36. HenryB,

    I know you like me are excited about The Jeff aka Adelaide, well reports in France say Nice are really interested in signing him because they say, “Arsene doesn’t want to keep him” which if true makes ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING SENSE.

  37. Papers around Nice are reporting that Debuchy deal has collapsed as Nice prefer the recently released Jallot from Lyon who was an unexpected release.

  38. C

    As Henry points out the reason we can’t get any more money for Wojo is no one else other then Juve wants to bids more then $10M and Juve is willing to back out of the deal unless they can get him on the cheap. That leaves Arsene with zero leverage.

    I can only guess that Wojo was not an ideal teammate or a positive influence in the dressing room. A lot of teams would be willing to put up that sort of character if he is an overwhelming talent but I guess the rest of the world does not rate him as highly as you do. If Arsene is willing to sell him on the cheap then the best explanation is that he must have gotten his fill after 5 years and does not want Wojo back.

  39. Bill,

    Arsene probably doesn’t want him due to what happened as we have seen over the years, when players are in Arsene’s doghouse there is no way back no matter their quality. The problem comes when you sell him and if he wasn’t such a good teammate then Juve it makes no sense for Juve to want him especially since they sold Bonucci, arguably the best CB in the World, because he couldn’t get along with his mates.

    Honestly, I think its just Arsene being Arsene because he was chased by Roma, Napoli and Juve. I rate Martinez and think he will come good but if I had my choice, I go with the #2 rated GK in Serie A the past 2 seasons and the one that before he left won the Golden Gloves who has clearly matured and found consistency, I mean isn’t that the whole purpose of sending players on loan.

  40. If Sampdoria has really bid for Jack then if I was Arsene and Arsenal I would talk to Jack and tell him we will sell you so you can get not only regular match time but continue your development and we will put a buy back clause in there and buy you back after a year or just send him on loan.

  41. C:

    I know you like me are excited about The Jeff aka Adelaide, well reports in France say Nice are really interested in signing him because they say, “Arsene doesn’t want to keep him” which if true makes ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING SENSE.


    Let’s hope that is not true. I will be really, really upset if AW let’s him go.

  42. C:

    Sorry I don’t think or operate like that mate.

    I am somebody who always questions, especially when it comes to quality, whether its players or coworkers.People or should I say Gooners always talk about no other big clubs wanting our players or us not having quality players entering their prime and then when they do, they let them go for pennies and assume Cech, who was good but no great, and is on the downside of their career go unchallenged, I will ask questions; sorry mate its in my nature for better or worst.

    I missed this comment before, C.

    And I think you missed the point I was making. 🙂

    You were horrified that Arsenal seem to be letting Chezzer go for pennies, because you and many others (including me) think he is a very good GK. I said that it did not matter what we (the Fans) think – the valuation put on a player (and by that I mean the monetary valuation) is between the clubs who want to sell and those who want (or do not want) to buy the player.

    If the market rate for an inexperienced but skilful player like Mbappe is $130m then that I what a buying club would have to pay. I think that is ludicrous frankly – but the same principle – you know the economic correlation between supply and demand applies – and my opinion and that of others is of no consequence.

    The clubs’ value Chezzer at $12m and that is that. Your opinion and mine matter to us, but have no bearing on what players are bought and sold for by the clubs.

    Bear in mind – for transfers to work – there have to be willing buyers and sellers – and also the player must want to move. So for someone to say Arsenal should have gone out and bought ‘X” right at the start of the window seems unaware of the basics of trading. Players are not cans of beans – football clubs are not supermarkets – you do not point your finger at a player and say ‘I’ll have him’ – it just doesn’t work that way. [not that you have ever said it did – it just makes the economic situation clearer – the key words are ‘willing buyers and sellers – with the agreement of the player’. And that does not always go thru smoothly.

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