Transfers are rarely straightforward, certainly not where Arsenal are concerned anyway. Rarely do we walk in and slam a suitcase full of used fivers on the table, exclaiming, “Bosh! There’s your dough – let’s get this done.”
When we do, it rarely ends well; Shkodran Mustafi is a prime example.
When we don’t, it ends in tears as well. Reports this morning claim we’ve walked away from the Tierney deal. Celtic want £25m up front which doesn’t sit comfortably with our pursuit of Wilfried Zaha. The pursuit of the Palace winger is similar to Manchester United’s chase of Wan-Bissaka. Palace held firm, United caved in on the price. At £80m, it is right to question whether Zaha is a good deal. He isn’t, is my answer.
However, Palace don’t have to sell. Zaha signed a new contract in each of the last two seasons and didn’t negotiate some sort of release clause. More fool him and to some extent, he’s like Koscielny. He wants his cake (the cash) and to eat it (a move to a bigger club). Unlike the former Arsenal captain, he isn’t striking to get his way, or not as Koscielny is finding.
My concern about Zaha is that we don’t need him. And not at that price. The club is desperate to make the deal happen to prove we aren’t skint. A big-money deal is more important than signing players in positions we need to strengthen.
Whichever way you cut it, this is a bad transfer window for Raul. Unai Emery will attract most flak even though he’s not singularly at fault and hamstrung by poor management elsewhere. Managers are the lightning rod for criticism while executives hang around like a bad smell or walk away with a handsome payoff while everything crumbles around them.
Enlightened Times These Are Not
This isn’t limited to Arsenal, however. There is talk that a Premier League player is preparing to ‘come out’ as gay but executives at his club are worried about fan reaction and that it will consume the club. I understand how it will be with the media but fan reaction? Surely, we’ve moved on when Graeme Le Saux found himself (wrongly) harassed for being gay; he wasn’t.
That said, you only have to look at the ‘enlightened’ replies to Arsenal’s Pride posts on social media to know the knuckle-scrapers still roam this earth, usually hiding behind some kind of religion as justification.
What players get up to in their own time is their business, so long as it is legal. Then it’s a matter for the law to judge, not us and our hypocritical morality. That’s nothing compared to the prurience of red top hacks. Their morality isn’t questionable, it’s simply absent. A group of people who think nothing of hacking mobile phones, embrace the rampant racism of the American president. They most certainly don’t speak for me.
Sex tales sell advertising space and papers. The hacks claim to speak for us all but 99% of the population don’t even read their rags.
Instead of being emboldened by the culture in women’s football where no-one bats an eyelid about gay footballers, the men’s game shrinks into its shell. The fear of what might happen, cowering before the power of the press, is overwhelming. When you are beholden to the media to promote your product, you make a Faustian pact.
Dani Ceballos Incoming
Rather than fans being stuck in the middle ages with their attitudes, is it not the executives – mostly white and older than middle-aged – who are the problem? It won’t be easy for the first individual who comes out, nor for their partner.
However, they are still the same person they were before, the same player the were before, so why should it be any different just because of their sexuality?
Back to the transfer tattle. Zinedine Zidane and Dani Ceballos signed off on the season-long loan deal, with a medical set for today. That’s something positive, I suppose.
Where he fits in is another matter. Certainly, he buys Joe Willock time to develop but with Granit Xhaka retaining his place despite a hefty portfolio of cock-ups, is Ceballos what we need?
He, Torreira and Guendouzi, on paper at least, is a dynamic midfield but the lack of width means Mesut Ozil plays in a wide position instead of the #10 which is supposedly his best role. Disinterested Mesut will soon show up.
And the porous defence remains. Defending starts with the attackers but bypass them and t’s open season. As I said yesterday, 102 goals against in the Premier League over two seasons is not the stuff of Champions League football. We are struggling to compete this season and almost certainly, are locked in a battle for sixth.
Our fragile mentality is a huge problem to overcome. And I can’t see any evidence that it will be.