There’s a giddiness in the air, coupled with a conspiratorial nod and wink. The sort of euphoria which overwhelms when a big-money signing lands. A convoluted logic follows; every link in the media is jokingly dismissed with eyes half-cocked, wondering whether there might be an element of truth in it.
As if ‘big-money’ means anything at a time when Harry Maguire became the most expensive defender in football. Money has no meaning when Manchester United are involved; they pay higher fees because everyone knows they can afford to. And then there’s the premium when two English clubs are involved.
It leaves us on the outside looking in, pressing our snot-covered noses against the window like some Dickensian street urchin. Which for a club habitually included as one of the richest in football is almost bizarre. Almost; we’re asset rich, cash poor, despite having hundreds of millions in the bank on one day of the year…
Raul knows this is the case which is why he wants to outsmart the market. If the rumours are true, he may be outsmarting himself. We travel to Barcelona for the Joan Gamper Trophy, an unsullied Emirates shindig with a bit more history attached. So, naturally, we’ll be in talks with the Catalans about signing a player.
Samuel Umtiti, with our needs and his injury record, is perfect. A centre-back, a position which you may have seen me mention once or twice. I think I even mentioned it is a priority, but I can’t be certain without checking.
The French defender’s knee is the concern but so long as he is fit until Rob Holding returns, we should be OK. But Umtiti isn’t the one the media are linking us to; it’s far too logical. Far too sensible.
Rabbits Out of Hats
Raul, they claim, wants Philippe Coutinho which is just as well since Barcelona no longer want the shiny toy they coveted for so long. And agitated so hard to get. We remember the Coutinho of Liverpool; the Catalan one is still a decent model but a touch of a downgrade.
So, have we sold Mesut Ozil and are just waiting to sign a replacement? I’m asking for a friend, you see, someone who can’t quite believe it.
OK, so it’s a joke, this Coutinho link but one you are not entirely comfortable in dismissing. Raul might pull the rabbit out of the hat. If the Brazilian is the rabbit you’re thinking of.
More likely, the Catalan numbers he’s been ringing is just to sort out a bóta or two for tonight’s evening meal. The squad probably don’t travel until tomorrow, returning as soon as the final whistle blows after the walloping we’ll receive but Raul, he’s a smooth operator. He’s already landed, enjoying the sun and looking forward to a night out on familiar territory, wondering what pose he must strike for his statue.
Now I’ve mentioned it, drinking out of a bóta is probably the ideal one; celebrating his success in an earthy manner.
There’s not much going on in the Arsenal world, publicly at least. As with Pepe, the Sage of Salford is scrabbling for information. He hasn’t been told anything about Coutinho because the club is playing its’ cards close to its chest. Or to put it another way, Gazidis left without giving Dave a new confidential informant.
Kieran Tierney is still bubbling under, reading to break through the surface and see the sunshine now streaming over Arsenal. You know something is happening; bolshy Neil Lennon is now resigned and almost tearful Neil Lennon in his media dealings.
That may yet be the best bit about signing an €80m player, the knowledge dawning on him that Arsenal has plenty of pots to p*ss in. We’ve just organised them unconventionally.
Apparently, the Tierney deal is only on because Juventus rejected our bid to take Daniele Rugani on a two-year loan with an option to buy. If that’s the case, I’ve had some pretty vivid dreams for the past month because I honestly thought we’d had a couple of bids for Tierney rejected already.
Rejecting a two-year loan deal is fine; can we return to Turin with a one-year deal? Be nice; signing a player of Rugani’s quality plus flogging Koscielny and Mustafi? That’s a solid 8 out of 10 for the transfer window. Bringing in Coutinho takes that to 11, I think. Not because he’s a Messi-level player – he isn’t – but because it will mess with the bin dippers heads.
And that is worth all the gold in the footballing world…