For some, it was one step too far. Having gone on strike to force a move out of the club for free, Laurent Koscielny binned off his Arsenal shirt. The poor advice he was given in the first instance continued; he copped both barrels from Ian Wright, with Lee Dixon also chiming in:
There are ways to leave the club and this is a prime example of how not to do it. Alanis Morrisette may have had Kos in mind when she penned Ironic. It was certainly her type of ironic when some of the centre-backs staunchest defenders proved to be from the USA!USA!USA!; the very fans he screwed up and tossed in the bin by refusing to tour.
He did what he did; he bears the burden of his actions. That’s life, we move on. He’s yesterday’s man and for me joins a cast of thousands in being an ex-Arsenal player. I don’t forget the goals on the final day or at Wembley. However, he chose to pour a large bottle of Tippex over them by striking. I don’t respect his decision nor him for that action; it was greed, pure and simple. Modern football, eh?
Replacing him is the top priority. All the while this farce unfolded, Raul surely had a plan of whom they wanted to sign. Now’s the time to deliver. In the media, it’s a toss-up between Dayot Upamecano or Daniele Rugani; both are young and as with older players, have their faults. Both, depending on who you talk to, are potentially better than the world’s most expensive defender, Harry Maguire – how did that happen – or just an expensive Mustafi.
Rugani, we’re told, agreed on personal terms with Arsenal. Just Juventus agreeing to a two-year loan and then a £40m fee.
The Last Mecano Set I Had…
Upamecano is a different matter. Arsenal were quoted €70m, bid €60m so the negotiating lines weren’t that far apart. RB Leipzig then dropped the E-bomb; they want Emil Smith Rowe on a permanent deal. That is a game-changer.
A value of €30m is attached to the player but the money isn’t the point in this instance. Every player has their value at which at club will sell, even Lionel Messi. Smith Rowe is different; he’s ‘one of us’, an academy graduate upon whose shoulders great hopes are heaped.
The question then becomes a balancing act between the short and long-terms; the perennial battle in football. In this instance, the centre of our defence or a midfielder who is seen as a huge prospect.
Reality bites. We aren’t flush with funds and must sell to buy. Quickly. So, exchange deals suit our needs. In midfield, we are well-stocked, even if there is a queue of drivers waiting to take Xhaka and Elneny at the airport while Dani Ceballos is on loan.
The midfield stock isn’t as high as we think; Torreira, Guendouzi, Willock, Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Maitland-Niles. Two of those top the sales list so the question of selling Smith Rowe isn’t as straightforward as it looks Nonetheless, the question must be addressed. Are we to keep him?
That’s a big issue; the academy exists for this very reason: whether or not to keep one or all prodigious talents? He offers the potential for a buy-back clause – effectively a long loan period – as well as a percentage of future sales. In short, it’s our chance to put a club in our place over the barrel. It’s a tough decision but if we’re to become a modern club, these are the decisions to make.
Taxi for Mr Ozil…
According to previously unheard of sources on these shores, DC United is lining up Mesut Ozil to replace Wayne Rooney. As I mentioned on social media, there’s a strong chance it will happen if the MSL club feels the need to appease supporters. Is Rooney’s sale part of a ‘grand plan’? Buying Ozil would suggest it is.
For Arsenal, it is something of a blessing if true. A large chunk of the wage bill is freed up for starters. True, we lose a talented if largely inconsistent player but there is a bigger picture to see. Ivan put us over a barrel with disastrous contract management and Ozil didn’t release us. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but losing the German and Sanchez at the same time wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
His place in the squad is likely to go to Philippe Coutinho. Or not, depending upon whom you talk to. He’s been touted around the Premier League also-rans like a cheap perfume. United said no; if he goes to Tottenham, Erikssen is leaving, which leaves us.
Our priority is a centre-back. Financially, I won’t argue with that but if we’re prioritising deals on a time basis, why has a centre-back been left this late? Coutinho only works as a signing if Ozil is leaving, that’s for certain. So, watch this space, as they say.
Kieran Tierney is still on the radar, apparently, although short of daubing his face in blue paint, he’s not getting any freedom from Parkhead this summer in my view.
Finally, good luck to Carl Jenkinson who sped up the M1 to Nottingham Forest this morning. He lived the dream but ultimately, it didn’t work out. Now, Monsieur Koscielny, if you want to know about leaving a club with your dignity intact…