It’s all kicked off this morning, with the futures of Arsenal’s contract rebels seemingly moving in different directions. Mesut Özil is set to put pen to paper on a new deal. No new talks were planned until everybody was back in London, according to the player last week, but this morning sees claims that “there have been more positive talks”.
The German was always more likely to sign than Alexis, with the delays brinkmanship on his part. There was noise about the pair of them colluding to extort as much money out of the club as possible but it’s looking more likely that Özil used the interest in Alexis to bolster his own position. Fair enough; Wenger held the club to ransom in different ways last season. The players are simply following his lead.
That and a lack of interest from any of Europe’s giants has rather forced Özil’s hand. Alexis may find his cards play out differently. Talk this morning of PSG and City both facing FIFA investigation with Monaco ready to lodge complaints about the ‘tapping up’ of Kylian Mbappe.
Arsène said he felt the player was staying in Monaco for one more season at least but the nouveau riche don’t take a blind bit of notice of what anyone wants. Mbappe is a new toy and they want him. A transfer ban looks likely if Monaco make good on their threat of reporting them.
Coincidentally, the pair are the only two reportedly interested in Alexis. What larks if both are hit with transfer bans before next summer. Even walking away on a free won’t allow him to join them. Did the bidding war just begin?
Petr Cech was in party pooper mode after the win over Bayern. The players weren’t allowed to celebrate because, essentially, it’s not a proper trophy, this International Champions Cup. Has he seen our trophy cabinet in recent years? There’s the FA Cup and a lot of ‘not a proper trophy’ additions along side it.
Cech, who without his helmet looks like the world’s tallest accountant, is right; no celebrations unless ordered to on these occasions and it won’t be long before those orders come in. Make it look good for TV, lads; that’s if anyone knows which channel it’s on.
The tour party suffered a dose of the squitters in China but it was a stomach bug, not food poisoning. There’s a joke in there about the dogs doo-dahs just screaming to stay in, so I’ll oblige this morning.
All of which frivolity brings us to the thrust of today’s musings. The imminence of the coming season. I know what you’re thinking, it’s still three weeks away but there’s still an awful lot to resolve before then. Being on tour precluded the manager from meeting any prospective new signings and I still hold out hope we have a couple more to come.
Alexis is the only player we would ‘replace’ with others coming in to improve the XI rather than providing depth. There are a few to move on; Debuchy, Jenkinson, Gibbs and Wilshere are the most prominent, with Calum Chambers linked to Palace.
I have mixed feelings about that. He did well at Middlesbrough and I’d be inclined to say a year on loan might do him the world of good. With Per Mertesacker retiring next summer, Chambers is a decent squad player to have and let’s not forget, he did well for England this summer as a centre back. Could he save us money in the transfer market?
We may need to; if Alexis walks, money will need diverting to a new marquee signing. Monaco may deal on Lemar if Mbappe is staying which would allow the club to sell the Chilean to PSG, as the current rumour suggests.
Otherwise, I’d still like to see something happening in the defensive midfield slot. If Arsène is seriously holding open the option of a flat back four, we need to find a purely defensive-minded player. Xhaka is that man, flourishing in the freedom the 3-4-3 gives him to play his natural game. With Wilshere likely to leave and Santi perma-crocked, we genuinely lack numbers. That needs addressing.
Finally, a gem from the media in the past twenty-four hours. John Cross’ position on Arsenal changes every five minutes, to the point that the Mirror genuinely doesn’t know if it’s coming going:
…while over at The Heil:
Love how even the media don’t know who Coquelin is. pic.twitter.com/NFyZYSahzg
— WestStandTone (@WestStandTone) July 20, 2017