Malaga Can’t Find The Santi Clause, Sahin What & More

Transfers are simple, so the logic goe. You want a player? Just walk into the office at your new club, slap your suitcase full of used fivers on the desk and bosh! Deal done. Couldn’t be simpler, could it? Well, OK, obviously you have to walk into the right office, it would be quite embarrassing to hear, “Thank you but take the stairs to the next floor, turn right and fourth office on your left” with the thud of the suitcase on the desk barely clearing the room. Presuming of course, that the person you are speaking to, knows who is dealing with the matter. And at Malaga, that is apparently not clear cut by any means.

Which is why this morning, despite everyone’s hopes and ambitions, Santi Cazorla’s transfer has still not been finalised. Arsenal hope to announce next week that the Spaniard has joined, especially as he is widely reported to be playing next week in Cologne as the pre-season preparations draw to their conclusion.

Cazorla has reportedly been signed for anything from £12.5m to £20m, the disparity of estimates is staggering even given add-ons. Hailing him as Arsenal’s most expensive signing is perhaps premature; the money has to be paid on the clauses for that to be confirmed. Malaga will, of course, tell us how much the total deal might be worth when they brief the press whilst Arsenal will just call it as it is: “undisclosed”. It is infuriating for the observer to see this frequently cited transfer fee. As understandable as it might be during the window, there is no reason why Fifa cannot extract the data from their transfer system and publish a list of deals post-September; I am sure this is all part of Sepp Blatter’s new transparency plan.

You have to laugh otherwise you launch into a diatribe about how crap Arsenal are at managing the process of transfers. God, I hope he’s worth it after all this…

Arsène isnt’ finished. As Ivan Gazidis quaffs his champagne, savouring his elevation to mover and shaker in the English game to accompany his pan-European duties, Wenger is giving the company credit card a battering by tempting Jose Mourinho into parting with Nuri Sahin. You can almost sense the hypnotic spell that he has woven around The Not-So-Special One with the Madrid manager’s words,

He’s a young boy, he wants to play every match. We are not an easy club, because we demand a lot. We have great players, and when you don’t start well, it is difficult.

The full quote was more damning,

If he stays, he’s not a problem for me. He’s one more solution. We are leaving the situation in his hands.

It isn’t exactly an advert for the bright young things in the game, is it? Don’t come to Madrid because we’re an impatient bunch who think nothing of casting you adrift when you turn out to be not quite so good as Messi. Oh and by the way, I really don’t care if stay or go, you solve problems either way; stay and I have options on the bench, go and I have options on the bench.

Stockpiling players is all very well and good since it prevents your opponents from buying them but it creates its own problems when those players want to move because of broken promises. That’s Madrid’s problem, Arsenal once more looking to take advantage of the very nice mouth which the gift horse has.

Hmmm. The unexpected end of week is morphing into a weekend of the unexpected. Hints, nuances and the hand of agents are everywhere in the media, particularly concerning the future of Robin van Persie. The Malagese Soap Opera is amusing to an extent whereas its Dutch cousin is frankly tiresome. The opening credits were dynamite but like many a Hollywood blockbuster, its overblown, overlong, not saying much of interest and massively over budget.

According to The Daily Heil, van Persie decided he would go to Germany. What a good chap he is. Of course, the small matter of contractual obligation had nothing to do with it nor the realisation that his transfer to Juventus might take as long to arrange as Cesc’s did to Barcelona; several summers. Arsenal’s hand apparently strengthens each day it drags on without resolution. I understand the argument that Arsenal should cut their losses and take whatever the Turin club offer for the sake of stability but I disagree with that notion. And there can be no countenancing of any idea of selling him cheaply to either Mancunian club. None whatsoever.

Arsenal are keeping the door open, massaging reporting angles to make it easier for the player to swerve the awkward position which his website statement put him in. Pet paper of Peter Hill-Wood it might be but Daily Star reporter David Wood has given the Dutchman the perfect backtracking path this morning, making it seem that the player is impressed and has got his own way…

Finally, the new site will go live on Monday morning. Further details tomorrow as the final step is migrating the email subscribers over.

’til Tomorrow.

One Of Us Speaks – Journey Through The Past

Call it fixing a hole if you want, but when I’ve had the chance recently I’ve been watching a lot of old football videos online. Due to my age I never got to see any football on television before around 1989, or in person before 1994. So that means I’ve missed my fair share of important players and moments – don’t blame me; blame my parents I suppose.

I don’t have the patience to watch entire 90-minute matches from decades ago as a routine, but thankfully many other people do. And what’s more, these beautiful bastards cut the videos down to include only individual performances by certain players.

Obviously these videos aren’t the perfect way of sizing up a player, since they don’t capture off-ball movement, and record only his touches – usually in grainy, primitive footage. But they’re bite-sized and ideal for people with short attention spans.

Anyway, what was I talking about?…Oh yeah

So, watching these performances 30, 40 or 50 years after they happened doesn’t suddenly give me licence to talk about people like Pélé or Johan Cruyff with any authority; really, I just feel I’m doing my duty as a fan of the game to check out these players at their peak – so I can pretend to talk about them with authority!

But often without realising I’ve forgiven the greats every time I’ve watched them. If there’s something that looks somehow gauche or unathletic I’d accept automatically that I’m watching a match from a different time, with different standards of skill and physical preparation.

That’s before we talk about tactics. On one of my timid visits to the football pantheon I happened across Franz Beckenbauer, facing England in the momentous encounter during the 1970 World Cup. The man they called the Kaiser would pick up the ball from the ‘keeper and stride forward in his trademark style time and again, riding challenges and threading passes for the attackers.

Something wasn’t right, and it was only when I read the comments underneath the video that I realised what it was; none of the England players were closing him down. Yeah, I learned something from a Youtube comment!

Granted they were playing in searing heat, at an elevation of almost 2,000 metres above sea level, but there seemed to be no interest in halting the progress of one of the best players in the world before he got to around ten yards from the penalty area.

Well of course. I’m a novice at tactics, but, for what I know, pressing wasn’t widely adopted as part of a team strategy at this point. But it’s not like England are standing off him and hoping to clog the area in front of the box either; Beckenbauer’s being given the freedom to lope past an attacker and a couple of midfielders before anyone wondering whether this bloke who’s not half bad at football has gone far enough.

Afforded so much space, it’s not surprising to see Beckenbauer find his teammates so often. One player who seems only to find his teammates a few times during an entire match is the Brazilian winger, Garrincha. In the 1962 World Cup he carried a winning international team to success in a way that no other player has done since, apart from Maradona in 1986.

And such was his popularity that he was known as “The Joy of the People”. In a sport of emperors, princes and galloping majors, Garrincha’s epithet is endearing for its sense of humanity, and the love for the game that it expresses – that a footballer should be a source of gladness for people under an authoritarian regime.

When he’s got the ball you can see how he earned the tag. There can’t have been many more unpredictable players around at the time. By most accounts he made more additions to the dribbling lexicon than any other footballer to have played the game. You probably know this, but his spine was crooked, and one of his knees pointed the wrong way from birth. This is partly what allowed him to change direction in such bewildering ways.

I can remember talking to someone who said he was a football scout in the pub a few years ago. That’s the level of insight you’ve come to expect from one of my posts!

He said that among the first things they assess in a kid are his or her knees and gait. By today’s recruitment standards, Garrincha wouldn’t have got past a minute of assessment. And, if you didn’t already know, his knees did give in, but not until he’d changed the way people thought about how an individual can express himself on a football pitch.

But even in his great performances he gives the ball away far too much for the taste of fans living in the era of possession-obsessed teams.

So I suppose the point – banal as it may be – is that we’ve got to admire these guys for clearing the path for future generations. As late as the 80s, the greats played with leather footballs that would get saturated by water when it rained, toiled on poorly maintained pitches, in matches officiated by referees who often didn’t just overlook but encouraged violence. As I mentioned, these footballers changed what people thought was possible.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Football is evolving, and each innovation is assimilated then eventually countered. The rules have been changed to allow skill and enterprise to flourish – raised boots and tackles from behind earn straight reds and backpasses are illegal. We have better guidelines for developing youngsters, technically and physically. We know the importance of mental and tactical preparation. Garrincha would step onto the pitch without knowing who his opponent would be!

They also face teams that are better drilled, and systems that are more detailed. Coaches now spend hours poring over video footage. Arsenal employ people fulltime to compile videos. Personified, its culture might be morbidly obese and on life-support, but on-pitch, standards are higher than they’ve ever been. But then that’s just natural.

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Medicals, Signings – Could Transfer Talk Turn Into Action?

Aaaah, I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Not that we get much of it here in Middle England. Well, sort of just north of Middle England really. That’s what happens when you get sucked into the transfer vortex. Insanti. I don’t care if Cazorla turns out to be more elusive than Park; I just want him to sign because I can have a couple of seasons of fun with the name and puns.

It won’t be long to wait either. The puns and the signing, if reports are to be believed. Did we get this far with Juan Mata last summer? I can’t recall there being flights booked for him to come to London and have a medical. Not for Arsenal, anyway. Presuming of course that Yann M’vila’s tent can be moved off the treadmill. Ah, the salutory warning arrives. We’ve been here before, we’ll be here again.

I know that the two cases are slightly different – OK I don’t know that they are and frankly I cannot see any difference between the two, save for the financial plight that Malaga find themselves in. Rennes have a proper, bona fide, certified Sugar Daddy; one intent on having a well-run club. The Andaluz club had to happen at some point; fake sheikh’s or at least ones who do not care for football and when things are not done their way, taking the highway out of town, leaving the footballing hopes of a city in tatters. Malaga will survive, in what form is not yet known with more brinkmanship from potential purchasers but the pitfalls of wanting money – any money – to arrive at the club are in plain sight.

For Cazorla, the chance to play in the Champions League and potentially win trophies, it represents too good an opportunity to miss. For Arsenal, the signing would strengthen the squad without doubt. Cazorla is versatile, more than a back-up plan in case someone leaves. It represents ambition, a desire to strengthen the squad, to enable a group of maturing players to challenge for trophies. Ricky (@GeezyPeas) hit the nail on the head yesterday,

Forget using who we’ve signed to justify ambition. We are ‘The Arsenal’ where ambition shouldnt be questioned.

Yet we always seemed surprised when Arsenal sign good players. Especially when they are relatively expensive. That may not apply to Cazorla where the fee has been strongly rumoured to be lower than the £17m or so reported in this morning’s press. With Malaga’s debt believed to be twice that, such generosity cannot be expected; even desperation has its limits.

What does Cazorla mean for Arsenal, in broader terms of activity this summer? To begin with, I think his signing would scotch any deal for Sahin. Too many attacking midfielders spoil the broth. There are only so many players who can pass the ball around the box without taking a shot. The Spaniard’s versatility offers so many options across the midfield that signing another creative player strains the senses.

Talks are ongoing with Theo Walcott’s advisors – and Arsène is rumoured to be holding talks today with the player – which hints at progress, doors remaining open rather than ajar. I still believe he will sign a new contract at the club; either that or he has seen the reaction Robin van Persie received with his announcement and is playing an altogether more canny game. If he goes, yes, Cazorla is insurance and Sahin makes sense as a signing. Bear in mind the ultimate loser in the Turkish international joining appears to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and I cannot envisage a scenario where Arsène would ‘kill’ his career.

A statement is expected from Malaga today on their whole situation and it seems inconceivable that they will not refer to Cazorla speculation in those circumstances. If the statement is made…hope lives or dies in this instant world in which we live.

Elsewhere, Emmanuel Frimpong is having to reassess the pricing of his clothing line following the FA fine of £6k for his Twitter indiscretion. Frimpong called it an ‘expensive month’; the master of the understatement indeed. Robin van Persie apparently has signed for Juventus already according to an Italian agent who has been referred to as a ‘mover and shaker’; St Vitus Dance might be another explanation for that. A shame that the Turin club is in all sorts of disarray at the moment. A shame for the story since it puts all sorts of holes in it.

Alex Song and Marouane Chamakh are apparently ‘outcasts’ at Arsenal now. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have continued reading the story but Charlie Dubuck in this morning’s Daily Express appears to know nothing about the club whatsoever and just for Song being termed an ‘outcast’, it is worth reading. It brought a smile to my face.

’til Tomorrow

Cazorla Want Is A Signing, Wages Mating Dance & More

So the Malagese deadline passed and the Spanish FA then extended it. No sign of Santi Cazorla at Highbury House but they couldn’t find the keys to the broom cupboard under the stairs. With the keyholder on holiday, Ivan may have to wait until tomorrow to be able to peak and see if the Spanish midfielder got caught up in the cleaner’s mops and buckets. Santi’s choice of disguise was better than that of his agent. According to Daily Mirror spies, Julio Llorente was seen in London thrashing out personal terms for his client. Thrashing in London? Was the meeting in Soho? Or just with a group of ex-public schoolboys? Or both?

Anyway, this one has the legs to run and may well be into next week before the game plays out. New owners coming in, bills to be paid, sheikhs whose rattle and roll betrays their empty pockets. It is the makings of the another Arsenal footballing novel. With that in mind, Arsène‘s words strike a chord that Chuck Berry might have enjoyed,

Overall we are not mega-rich because we do not have unlimited resources. A club can buy players like PSG has done or Manchester City or Chelsea, with unlimited resources, but overall football suffers.

Europe at the moment is like the Titanic but we live in football like nothing matters. More than ever we have to run our club in a strict way because it looks like everybody suffers in Europe. I would be surprised if football is not touched by it at some stage.

If you look at debt in football across Europe at the moment it is quite massive and we have to be responsible. We have to be ambitious but also make sure we are not getting in trouble financially.

There is nothing new in the mantra; self-sustaining is often confused with parsimony and profits. It is neither; profits are reinvested at the moment in the playing staff. The derision that the policy brings obscures issues, how the club invests this money and the salary policy whilst inter-related, can be dealt with separately. Ivan has stated that the salary structure is being re-aligned but with players on contract, that is not an easy task since the club is legally bound to honour those terms.

It has caused problems in selling those surplus to requirements, notably Sebastian Squillaci whose move to Bastia fell through because they could not afford to pay him that which he desired. Resolution of this will take time and in today’s world, that is a precious commodity. Too many blithely dismiss this by telling us that if we got rid of the ‘deadwood’, we could pay Robin van Persie what he wants. Were that it was that simple.

My view on that is shifting somewhat. Instead of strengthening an opponent, I would rather Arsenal kept the player for the final year of his contract, forcing him to see it out. Anyone who believes we owe him his freedom has forgotten the nature of his website statement. It doesn’t matter if Vos or someone in his employ wrote it, Robin takes resp0nsibility for that. Or sacks his agent, if the intent behind the statement did not represent his own views. He will be thirty by the time his contract ends and as such diminishing returns set in over the coming season. It might be that next summer he decides he wants to stay and that fits with Arsenal’s plans. If he goes, he goes. A disaffected player can be disruptive; van Persie strikes me as too professional to be that. I could be wrong but that is my instinct.

As it is, Arsène has bigger fish to fry but offered some warning that ransom demands won’t be met,

It is difficult for us because the wages in some other clubs are very high. But of course our players quite rightly compare themselves to the players of the other clubs.

In other words, we have our salary cap and won’t go above it. International football has long been a place for sowing the seeds of discontent. Players talk about their wages, you only have to read any book by footballers from recent times to know this practice still goes on. It gives them the chance to gauge their own value and to put out feelers if they are unhappy, knowing that an international colleague will make that discontent known.

A lot of figures are thrown around without any substance. In the case of Theo Walcott, the current favourite conspiracy theory is that he wants the same that was offered to Robin van Persie. I suspect that is not the case although he probably would not turn it down if offered. And let us not forget that this is the mating dance, posturing to show the world their feathers. The clubs do it by claiming poverty, the players do it via their agents drumming up feigned interest from other clubs and the media mix it all together for the public to lap it up.

Elsewhere, Steve Kean is eager to prove his managerial aptitude by signing ParkMamadou Sakho is going to leave PSG with Arsenal amongst the usual suspects put on ‘alert’ by this news. God forbid that the player’s agent might have already contacted Dick Law. Meanwhile Yann M’vila has been heavily linked with bastions of multiculturalism, Zenit St Petersburg as Arsenal’s interest in Victor Wanyama is prolonged by his agent. More I am sure will emerge over the next twenty-four hours. God I miss Soap.

’til Tomorrow.

D-Day For That Deal, Bould Thinking For The Defence & Transfer Gossip

The world and his wife are waiting for baited breath, the announcement that Malaga have paid off their debts before the passing of today’s deadline along with Santi Cazorla signing a new and improved contract is surely due around lunchtime. The unhappy marriage of player and club has been resolved through mediation and negotiation with the suitably contrite message from the player that he has never said he wanted to leave, just that it was time for him to make clear that he expected last summer’s promises to be kept. It’s a weak defence mechanism, I know, but we have been down this road so many times before that it is only natural to prepare yourself for the spectacular fall.

Any failure to land the deal in what are being portrayed as ideal conditions is going to bring forth a welter of criticism; it is inevitable. Even if the player decides to stay, it will be Arsenal’s fault; you know that the agendas are set in such a way that the good news is almost a fluke, the bad is the expected level. A good season might alter that but views are entrenched and it will take more than one season to change them. Arsène said that he wanted to avoid last summer’s supermarket dash; perhaps this week will see him stocking up on supplies. Question is whether or not the sales have started.

Other deals are bubbling under. Less than twenty-four hours after reportedly walking away from any deal, Juventus have apparently found enough money to make Arsenal an offer they cannot refuse. Can He do the same? In such an atmosphere of speculation, little wonder that any news is treated as gospel. Since that statement, the captain and his advisors have remained the quiet, the hand of the latter can be seen behind some articles, the hand of the club behind others. You wonder if the prevaricating from Turin is actually their negotiating stance or Arsenal taunting their Mancunian rivals, daring them to spend next week’s pocket money today.

Wojciech Szczesny offered an interesting insight into the possible sale of Him,

It will be disappointing if he leaves because Robin is our captain and he’s our leader. I’m very happy to have him at the club. He’s still an Arsenal player and we support him all the way. At the beginning for pre-season last year everyone was saying it was doom and gloom with everyone leaving the club. No-one’s left the club at the moment. We have new signings, we’re stronger defensively and so we’re in a better position.

It was a bit different last year because we all knew Samir (Nasri) and Cesc (Fabregas) would be leaving but now we believe in the squad more. We’re more confident that the players we have are good enough to play for this club and challenge for trophies. Those who were lacking experience last year have that experience. We have a couple of signings, more players who can score goals.

The reflections suggest that the players believe last season’s captain will not be here come the start of the new campaign. But they also hint at an inner strength emerging in those who went through last summer’s unsettling debacle. Whilst the Pole appears to be one of the, ahem, more confident members of the squad, he was disturbed by 2011s transfers and was not the only one. Now his words indicate an inner resolve, more unity and less reliance upon one or two players. More belief which ties in with the changes on the coaching staff.

Steve Bould’s appointment was heralded as the dawn of a new era for the Arsenal defence, the man had to have a plan to improve the deteriorating goals against column in recent years. The expectations are still there yet they need to be tempered; any decrease is to be welcomed but to expect too much is folly. Of course there needs to be a benchmark for reduction, the manager and coaching staff will have identified a total they want to task the defence with achieving; it is ludicrous to expect them to do nothing in that respect. Public utterances of such a target will be allusory rather than made of stone.

His involvement has been welcomed by some of those who went on tour with Szczesny talking more frequently about the impact than others,

We’ve done a lot of [defensive] shape work in training, work on when we lose the ball and a lot of defending on crosses. It’s all very sharp as well. Steve likes to shout at players and keep them on their toes – so it’s looking positive.

Surely I am not the only one who read that and thought that the infamous rope had made a return to London Colney? It will need some more slack in it to allow Thomas Vermaelen’s forays upfield to continue in open play.

The key to all of this is held in organisation. Each of the players needs to know what is expected of them in set and open play; they need to understand their roles more decisively than before. Zonal marking requires a defensive discipline that was often lost last season with ragged passes punished by opponents of all standards. The start to this season is tough; a few clean sheets would do the club the world of good, on and off the pitch.

That is the common theme through today’s post. The people most affected by the summer shenanigans are supporters. This is the time for new hope and that seems to be noticeable by its absence. I don’t know why; I do know why. The contradictory stance is because of the wait for the inevitable departure. Martin Keown spoke yesterday about Arsenal signing world-class players who can have the impact of Bergkamp. That is too high an expectation, the club is in a different place today than 1995. As much as we need quality players to challenge at the top, for me there is a change to mentality required.

Arsenal have signed two players already. As Szczesny notes, they improve the goal output of the squad currently. Podolski and Giroud are not forgotten men but they are being overshadowed by this uncertainty, by not having seen either play for Arsenal. That might have been the miscalculation over the tour of the Far East and not having a replacement for the cancelled match in Nigeria. But it is what it is. Not long to the first kick-off of the new campaign and then we can eulogise all we want. Hopefully.

’til Tomorrow.

In The Kitchee At Parties, All Aboard The Trans-Global Transfer Express

Arsenal’s tour of the Far East ended with a 2 – 2 draw against Kitchee in Hong Kong yesterday. Results and performances were a mixed bag, a win, draw and defeat are hardly inspiring fear in the rest of the Premier League but that was not the point. The manager has clear indications as to the progress of the fringe players.

In that sense he has seen the potential and knows that they are coming along but not yet ready to usurp any of the current first team incumbents. Afobe, Aneke, Yennaris and Eisfeld are proof that the Academy is preparing players well for future seasons. Afobe is this morning linked with a loan spell at Bolton. I know some will prefer a Premier League club but the expectation is that Bolton will be in the upper echelons of The Championship and the urgency of play in that division is maybe a steeper learning curve than the top flight might ordinarily offer.

Work needs to be done. Integrating new signings in the next fortnight is no small endeavour and having just one friendly is not an entirely satisfactory state of affairs but that is how events have played out. The manager is not happy with this, admitting that Giroud and Podolski may be ‘eased’ into the team in competitive matches; the suspicion is that this will depend on the situation with Robin van Persie. The Dutchman’s advisors were reported to have told United that a Rooney-sized salary will match his ambitions. Rather simplistically, that presumes Arsenal will give away the family silver once more. The cards are dealt and we see how the hand plays out.

Speaking before the team headed home, Arsène observed that there would be a match behind closed doors, albeit the first team vs reserves,

I decided to have one game behind closed doors to try and get a good opponent but at the moment it will be behind closed doors against ourselves. I have organised a training camp in Germany ahead of the Cologne game. It is a little bit unusual for us.

There is benefit in such a fixture although painful memories will recur for one or two of the squad who have fallen foul of the injury curse in previous summers. Even so, it is not ideal and that inference can be drawn from the sign-off phrase from the manager.

Aside from that, the defending in these three matches has been somewhere between woeful and abject. This is tempered by several caveats, not least of which is that the first choice backline has not been used. However it is the positional play which has caused most problems and the disorganisation on the pitch, baffling. Each of the goals conceded has been of Arsenal’s own making, none possessing the ‘Wow’ factor indicating it was an unstoppable passage of play. Malaysia took advantage of the lack of covering from midfield, advancing into shooting range. City took advantage of spaces afforded whilst Kitchee just took advantage.

It is disappointing to look back and see those goals go in; individual mistakes happen and the lack of urgency due to the nature of the matches contributes but some of the mistakes were so basic that even conceding them in training would bring derision. None of that will be lost on the manager and coaching staff, as post-match comments have indicated.

Commercially the feedback seems positive. A major objective of the tour has been achieved as the club seeks to exploit a lucrative market. Presumably this leg of the tour will be paired with Africa next summer, hoping to fulfil that excursion following this summer’s aborted playing visit to Nigeria.

This is reportedly a big week for Arsenal. Malaga’s financial deadlines expire today and contradictory reports emerge on an hourly basis from Spain. Big-wigs flew in with furrowed brows, players were excitedly left at home from tours even though there was apparently no plan to take them in the first place and those who should not be travelling have been smuggled into hold luggage. In other words, the usual rumour and subtefuge. As expectations rise, the likelihood of it all falling flat cannot be shaken. Just when you want something to happen, nothing does. Experience teaches us this but it doesn’t stop the hopes spiralling.

It seems that players deemed to be ‘deadwood’ are going to be departing this week. Wenger took the unusual step of naming Squillaci, Bendtner and Park as heading towards the exit door with a pace rarely witnessed on the pitch. With Park, anything on the pitch was rarely witnessed. Arshavin is the curio; no-one seems to be keen to commit to anything, other than his agent who is adamant that a big wage packet is going to seal any deal. It isn’t that simple but such honesty is refreshing in a game where loyalty is a card often overplayed.

His client’s time at The Emirates may not be over; the suspicion must be that this will depend on where Arsène sees his main role from the bench. Centrally, the Russian might be convinced to stay provided that he can convince the manager he will offer consistency. The likelihood is that remaining at Arsenal will see no change to the bit-part role which led Arshavin to a loan in St Petersburg and as such this staying seems a remote outcome.

’til Tomorrow.


In With The New, Out With, Er, Um…

Arsène Wenger has outlined Arsenal’s transfer policy over the coming years. Speaking as the Far East tour draws to its conclusion with the final friendly against Kitchee, Wenger put scouting departments at the top clubs on notice by telling them how good our younger players really are. Adding in their ages allows the likes of City, United and other European giants, to plan their purchases for the next five years,

We have some young players who are already experienced, for example if I tell you Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, you will tell me he is not young but he is 18 years old. Jack Wilshere is 20, Aaron Ramsey is 21 and we have some more young players who might push up this season.

On tour we have Chuks Aneke who has shown quality and of course Ryo. We also have younger players who are 16 or 17, who are not with us on tour, who will certainly appear this season. We are faithful to what we want to do whicih is to promote young players and give them a chance at that level.

Phone calls have no doubt been made to their respective agents already, ensuring the players know that whomever the current incumbent is at whatever club, he has always been a huge admirer of their abilities. Too cynical? Possibly but it didn’t stop that uncomfortable shift in your seat for a split-second did it?

As the club reportedly fend off intent from Southampton to re-sign Theo Walcott by opening talks with his advisors, transfer activity is expected to pick up in the next seven days with media-imposed deadlines heightening the expectation over Cazorla and Sahin whilst Celtic’s Victor Wanyama is the new kid on the media speculation block. It deflects attention away from the weight of expectation on current midfielders.

Jack Wilshere’s injury has been the subject of much speculation and it is a concern. Understandably the club wants to avoid putting pressure on the player and rushing him back. Headlines this morning that he is out until October fit in with how I understood the comeback was being managed in the first place? Maybe I missed the memo where the manager said Wilshere would be fit for Sunderland in which case I can see why October might be considered a setback. As it is, there is too much sensationalism around the player’s fitness. Is it perchance due to the paucity of talent in the national squad?

One who will know how Wilshere feels is Abou Diaby. The French midfielder is perenially classed as a new signing by the manager, every summer brings the fresh hope that he will be fit. Every autumn, the hope fades.

It is a crucial season and it is really important for me to be back strong and have a very good year

The player is acutely aware of the damage being done to his career, more aware than anyone else. Constantly struggling with injury means that as time ticks by, other clubs – as well as his own – will lose faith in his ability to stay fit. Few in this money-conscious age will be willing to take a chance on him, certainly not at the salary level he is accustomed to. More importantly it is the psychological impact upon the player? How will he be affected by another setback? It is not just the supporters for whom pre-season is a time of hope.

Elsewhere, the hawking around Europe of Nicklas Bendtner continues unabated with Spartak Moscow the latest cash-cow that his advisors are seeking to exploit. Andrey Arshavin is a continued target for Fulham who will no doubt look to revive the image of Tommy Trinder with their cheeky £1m bid for his services.

Football this afternoon for my youngest, will be a welcome distraction ahead of a busy couple of weeks off the pitch before the Cologne friendly.

’til Tomorrow.

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