Earlier this week, Unai promised signings and like Routemasters, three come along at once. Willy Saliba chose to passover Tottenham’s offer, leaving him at Saint-Etienne on a season’s loan. Les Verts trouser €30m while we continue our search for replacements for Koscielny and Mustafi; is that a good deal for us?
The answer isn’t Krystian Bielik. Stories continue to emerge from the Warsaw press that he is off, to the chagrin of many. A sale now seems inevitable with claims his contract won’t be extended. If Raul is really going to outsmart the market, he needs to begin proving it with sales.
Saliba is an expensive ‘gem’. Is the plan ‘buy low, sell high’? Willy, to scale those heights must be the next De Ligt. Or are we taking the Tesco approach where volume sales bring in the money to make a difference? Is that the object of the exercise? One hopes so. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s a means to an end.
Sven Mislintat offered a different perspective. He wanted to promote youth, solving the problem of restrictive transfer budgets and losing talented youngsters for chicken feed fees. The Jeff is the favourite example of that with Angiers selling for ten times the fee we received. Gnabry too but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
The German proved correct in his assessment of Denis Suarez. He was the wrong answer to last season’s disorder. It’s easy to paint Mislintat’s departure as the result of differing philosophies. However, there’s a sense of lurking ego; ‘Diamond Eye’ fancied himself as something better.
At Arsenal, I was already fully responsible for transfers, as there was no sporting director. But in England it isn’t usual [for the sporting director] to sit on the bench, so you’re much less visible.Sven Mislintat wants a seat on the bench
Not the Right Candidate
Banned from Dortmund’s training ground, no seat on Arsenal’s bench? There’s a theme; he wanted more than he could get. Sven wanted to be acknowledged publicly, week in, week out with a place at the top table and on the bench. Mere lauding in the press wasn’t enough. Sven wanted to be the man.
There was a genuine basis for conflict with Raul. Sven believed in stats for insight; Raul is old skool, trusting his network of agents. He is an analogue man in a digital world, living in the Ice Age with Sven claiming Raul waits for offers of players rather than proactively seek ing answers to our myriad problems. There is clearly no love lost between the pair.
The biggest problem of all, however, seems to have been Ivan making promises and others not delivering on them. That sounds vaguely familiar. Sven wanted to be technical director, Raul wanted someone else. Undermining Sven’s vision of himself is his track record. It isn’t fantastic; he pushed for Mkhitaryan but landed Torreira to offset this. Guendouzi, so it’s claimed, was scouted prior to Sven’s arrival.
Football is nothing if not a cauldron of clashing egos. Football must have winners and losers. Sven lost but we didn’t win. Not yet, anyway.
Change is coming at the club, however. Not just because Junior’s rhinoceros skin proved to be paper-thin; Laurent Koscielny is consulting the legal suits to get him out of a contract drawn up by…legal suits. The only winners in this are the lawyers. Koscielny lost the goodwill built up through his time at the club; most people just want to see the back of him but not on his terms.
This Ain’t The Sound of Music, You Know
If he stays, the atmosphere isn’t going to be one Russ Abbott sought. This morning saw comments at the Swamp about Christian Eriksen’s future. He asked for a move but is training and available for tours as the club requires.
The contrast to Koscielny’s lack of professionalism is stark. Not for the Dane is there isolation; he seems keen to give his heart and soul to the club.
It’s the eternal struggle between players and clubs. Both sides held too much sway at one point or another. Club owners treated the players like serfs for decades, holding them to contracts even when they expired; making sure they walked in line, resplendent in their club blazers.
The law changed and eventually, players trod on owners, scraping them off the kerb as if they were dog sh*t. No longer standing on ceremony, agents took their willing clients to wherever the money talked loudest.
These days, we’re left with the unedifying scene of a player publicly acknowledging the length of his contract but looking to push that to one side, chasing money. I honestly didn’t think Koscielny was of that ilk; how wrong can you be? There is clearly no love lost between player and hierarchy meaning it won’t end well.
There’s no joy in this division.
Following on from that is the club’s captaincies. Granit Xhaka is closer than anyone to assuming the responsibility of the roles. Apparently, Unai wants Rob Holding to be part of the ‘captaincy group’, the scurrilous believing it’s because the (relative) youngster is English.
Is it a peculiarly English concern over captaincy? Or is it just an Arsenal problem? We remember the strong leaders fondly? For strong, don’t read ‘shouty’; ‘shouty’ isn’t strong leadership, it’s just thinking that’s what leaders do. It’s bad leadership, which isn’t the only mistake poor captains make.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are still trying to prise Kieran Tierney out of Celtic’s grasp. This one has legs and isn’t expected to be resolved in the next twenty-four hours, although there is a chance of that happening. The Scots publicly expect the fee to be in the same ballpark as Wan-Bissaka’s. It isn’t going to happen; Tierney’s stock was that high two seasons ago; for some reason, it’s dropped. Maybe Manchester United’s disinterest caused that?
It’s still not enough for their reported £62m for Aubameyang to be taken seriously. £75m for Lukaku? Imagine what a proper goalscorer can fetch…