Sometimes in the business of football transfers, there’s an obvious reason for signing a player. Stephan of Liechtenstein and Sokratis; I understand the philosophy behind those moves. Our defence needs strengthening and they are experienced players.
Sometimes, however, a deal leaves me scratching my head. Talk this morning of Marouane Fellaini being targeted by Arsenal’s Transfer Window Action Team is one such occasion. The Telegraph is convinced we’re holding talks with the Belgian, who is available on a free transfer at the end of the month. That alone is the key to unlocking this puzzle. We like a freebie and he wants a new deal from United. Problems solved.
Except, it can be that simple, surely? The first call anyone should be making if StatDNA throws out Fellaini’s name with anything other than a message stating clearly, “Steer Well Clear”, is to the IT department to see if the club was hacked. The second is to the programmers to tell them to get their arsenal’s into gear and rewrite the damn program.
Fellaini? Has someone seen how Ramos elbowed Karius in the head, concussing him and thought, “Ja! This is the major league sh*thousery that we need at Arsenal”. Come on, you look at Sven and you know he wouldn’t be averse to use that kind of tactic in the staff six-a-side tournament. The Transfer Window Action Team are going to retain that trophy for years to come.
Then it dawned on me. There is a good reason why we might be looking at it. When I say “good”, I don’t mean good in its good vs bad meaning, but for a proper reason. This is sponsor interference. Or rather, kit manufacturer interference. The responsibility for Arsenal signing Marouane Fellaini rests solely on one set of shoulders: Puma.
Okay…Where’s This One Going?
It’s a salutary warning for the future: bad kit = bad signings. We’ve seen it in the past, which is why we’ve had the likes of Stepanovs, Silvestre, Mustafi, etc; there’s always a bad kit lurking in the background, but now, Puma are wising up to the problem.
They know they need more commercial revenues because no-one will be seen dead in the new home kit. Now, they are looking at adding comedy wigs and rubber, pointy elbows to the retail outlets. Give anything the tag ‘official merchandise’ and it will sell like hot cakes; wigs and elbows have that novelty value so loved by fans. We’ve had vuvuzelas and inflatables, now it’s wigs and elbows.
Which is in direct contrast to events surrounding the renewal of Aaron Ramsey’s contract. The mantra of ‘sign or be sold’ swirls in the air, with the favoured outlet of the senior executives, Jeremy Wilson, proclaiming the club are willing to commit “£50m” over the next five seasons to his and the treasury coffers.
As Wilson observes, in this market Ramsey is worth around £200k per week to the club, both in performances and in being cheaper than his replacement’s value. Emery’s pressing game as previously employed seems to favour a box-to-box midfielder such as Ramsey more than the impish qualities of Wilshere, for example.
I don’t doubt Jack would perform well but he isn’t the sort of player Emery would build a side around. The question is which midfielder will partner the Welshman. Granit Xhaka appears most vulnerable in the talk of Steven N’Zonzi with the latter’s defensive discipline trusted by Emery. The Swiss can do the job, we’ve seen glimpses of it in the past; the question is how long he takes to forget previously ingrained bad habits?
Your Starter for Ten…
That seems to be the ‘Plan B’ if transfer funds don’t permit. Elneny remains ‘Plan C’ or whatever letter he gets promoted/demoted to depending on the circumstances.
There are, until the pre-season friendlies begin, more questions than answers. Only once we see the first semblance of an XI put together and trying to interpret Emery’s instructions will get an idea of how the team will set up. To that point, we’re living in the present and keeping Unai on the future.
On which point, if you’re interested in a World Cup predictions competition, then email me at competitions [at] aclfarsenal dot co dot uk to take part. There’s a small prize for the winner and runner-up. Not quite sure what it is yet, but there will be something to reward your astuteness/guesses/pure flukes.