Giroud Puts His Left Leg In, Loads Put Their Right Out; The Arsenal Hokey-Cokey Is Under Way
So Olivier Giroud‘s move is confirmed with the usual platitudes and ambitions on display. The French international emulated most of his squad colleagues in failing to shine at Euro2012 which frankly counts for nothing; it is club form upon which he was selected and that consistency brought him to Arsenal.
The additions of Lukas Podolski and Giroud to the squad underline that last summer’s lessons have been learned. Not in the signing of quality players but in understanding presentation of transfers allows them to dictate the agenda. Strengthening before selling has quashed criticism with widespread approval for the strategy; it makes for a more pleasant feeling, one where the hopes and expectations of a new season can grow without an overspill of negativity due to summer activities.
Of course there remains the question of Robin van Persie’s future to vex minds. Understandably the media coverage causes distress to some but that should not be treated with contempt; there are genuine concerns that one of the world’s top strikers might leave. This discomfort is underpinned by the loss of Cesc and Nasri, following on from a decade where there was constant speculation over the futures of the likes of Henry, Vieira and Ljungberg.
It is not just supporters who feel the frustration, the manager alluded to it in the Dutch media recently voicing his disquiet that richer clubs steal players he has developed, budget constraints at Arsenal meaning that competing with those seemingly bottomless pockets is difficult. The players say they are leaving because they have ambitions to win trophies, conveniently overlooking their own contributions to those failures. That is not absolving anyone from blame but we need to recognise that whilst the buck stops with the manager, any number of factors can influence results over a season. Some are in the control of the club, some are not.
With van Persie, we know nothing except the speculation which surrounds him. In terms of his future, he will decide what is best for him with the answer found once he has sifted through the ambition, money and family reasons. Whatever rationale is applied, I am not sure the club could do much more. We simply cannot compete on purely financial terms; there is no point berating Arsenal for not paying him enough since the pot for wages is finite at the club.
Ivan Gazidis recently spoke of paying for the future potential of players. That applies to van Persie as much as it does Bendtner. With the Dutchman, there are more grounds to be optimistic that he will deliver the goals needed to challenge. His record stands that scrutiny, the Dane’s does not. Yet there is still doubt, no-one knows how his finishing will be next season; you just hope that it does not suffer by comparison to this one.
With players moving on, the pot available becomes bigger but a contract negotiation is not as simple as agreeing a weekly wage of £150k per week. How that is split between guaranteed salary and motivational bonuses, pensions and all manner of other aspects make them more complex than the simplistic presentation we read in the back pages. With Glasgow Rangers on the verge of ceasing to exist as a result of tax evasion, clubs are acutely aware of making sure that everything is watertight lest they be landed with a large and unexpected bill from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Arsenal have already been stung on this with a House of Lords ruling in 2005 landing them with a retrospective tax bill. It is the last thing that they need.
Speculation about his future is not going to abate until it is resolved. Last night saw authoritative claims that the Dutchman had agreed a deal with City with an astronomical wage quote. I don’t think that to be correct; the sum is less than Rooney earns at Manchester United if reports are to be believed. Perhaps he has agreed the deal but Arsenal are refusing to allow him to leave until all of their transfer activity is completed, certainly for new signings and that includes all positions.
This morning sees claims that the deals for Vela to Sociedad and Squillaci to Bastia have fallen through. With Denilson also returning from Sao Paulo and Zenit denying anything is in place for Arshavin, it seems at first glance that we will have two squads worth of players next season. Despite those reports contradicting ones earlier this week, we still know nothing about their futures. The rumour is that when the members packs are despatched from Arsenal, this year’s gift is to be 10 tonnes of salt for use when reading transfer gossip.
The long summer begins as Euro2012 reaches its conclusion. There is but brief respite before pre-season training begins and before that the first qualifiers are played (next week the Sammarinese, Andorran and Faroe clubs meet their counterparts from Luxembourg, Malta and Northern Ireland).
Speculation is all part of football; it exists even whilst the season is under way. It’s the way of the footballing world; always has been, always will. Remember 99% of it is wrong and as for the other 1%, well, we’re all allowed a lucky guess every now and then.