As pre-season goes, yesterday proved eventful. Two new signings (finally) announced while Raul, Vinai, and Edu seemed taken aback by frustrations being aired at a supporter Q&A session.
It wasn’t as terrifying ordeal suffered by the carjackers who made the mistake of threatening a car containing Sead Kolasinac. Mesut Özil and their respective wives made the eminently sensible decision to stay in the vehicle. Not the Bosnian. He took on the assailants and won. Both are recovering from their ordeal while the club says the players and their wives are also unharmed.
On the footballing side, Dani Ceballos arrived to a triumphant fanfare from the millions of scouts who watched his YouTube reel. Proclaimed as the midfield saviour, Raul claimed his compatriot studied the squad for two weeks, to get to know the players. And he still signed! What a doughnut!
Willy Saliba endeared himself to everyone when he gave his reasons for joining:
Well, the history, the badge… since I was little, I’ve been watching Arsenal play in the Champions League and so on, and there are a lot of French players who have come through here. So that really helped me to make my mind up.Willy 1 Tottenham 0
All I’ll say is if he can remember us playing in the Champions League, fair play. It’s just a distant memory, with the repeated horror shows blurring into one.
He is one for the future and the two signings highlight the juggling act the Transfer Window Action Team must pull off. Saliba and Ceballos are unlikely to play in the same Arsenal side. There’s no option to buy in the latter’s loan deal with neither Real or player contemplating a move away. Let’s hope he’s a better signing than Denis Suarez.
Raul Shoulders the Burden
It’s fair to say last night’s Q&A wasn’t the celebration the ‘new regime’ hoped. Vinai admitted the club’s continued failure on the pitch:
We know we are not where we want to be as a club. If we had finished 3rd and won the Europa League last season, we would be saying the same thing. We have to find a way to compete for the biggest trophies and we aren’t doing that at the moment.
He denied the £40m transfer budget – “that doesn’t come from the club” – which was no surprise. The way we’re acting isn’t outsmarting the market; lowballing can be seen as that but when it explodes in your face every time, it isn’t very smart to continue the policy.
Celtic denied a third bid for Tierney (so far) but given we were out of the reckoning earlier in the week, Neil Lennon’s words seem resigned to losing the full-back. There are contingency plans in place, to paraphrase the Bhoys boss. A stepdown from the inflammatory rhetoric of recent times. If the deal goes through, the selling club is going down with a whimper rather than the bang.
If we don’t land Tierney or any other targets, don’t blame Edu. Raul absolved the Brazilian of any responsibility for this window; it’s all down to the Dynamic Duo. I don’t know why but it feels like Vinai is the one who will be thrown under the bus. If Sanllehi survived the Barcelona snakepit, N7 is a piece of cake.
He played on our history, imploring that it be used as a positive, not something which holds us back. Unfortunately, Unai’s squad is filled with players who don’t hold a candle to those “statues” so the burden of the past will always be borne by those in the ‘now’.
What the Papers Say
Elsewhere, Malcom is on his way somewhere for just under £40m which means nothing to us unless Palace drop the price for Zaha. Vinai dismissed “85% of what you read” as untrue but understands why this feeds supporter frustration.
The low transfer budget is something which haunts the club. Vinai’s denial was unconvincing and while the £40m may be too low, it isn’t too far off. You can tell that by our bids and players we’re chasing. Zaha is more of a cost-saver; we’re more intent on trimming our wage bill than signing a player with the number of makeweights in the deal.
Whatever the truth, we’ve been slow this window. Nothing dynamic, which isn’t always down to the club; we have yet to address the weaknesses which bedevilled us in recent years. Dani Ceballos is one step in the right direction but the three signings so far are one for now, two for the future. We need two more defenders; can we get them?