I love the calming feeling of knowing that Arsenal fans are united for at least one summer. We all agree the Premier League was horrible, but every single one of us can see that we’re on the cusp of progress… provided the club backs the manager this summer.
There aren’t too many players I’m overly attached to, but I do think it is essential to keep Auba at Arsenal. He’s close to the peak of his goal-scoring powers, but as a footballer, he’s still pushing himself forward trying to find that next level. With him in the side, you always have a chance. I think he’s the sort of unique goalscoring talent we’d not be able to replace. His deal would set the club back £39m over 3 years. I suspect you’d get at least 100 goals. I’m not sure how you replace that and it’s actually quite frightening to think what we’d do if he did decide to leave. With Real Madrid apparently interested in Lewandowski or him, we might soon find out how keen he is to bed in for the Arsenal project.
The best bet right now is to give him what he wants, which is money, and ambition in the transfer market. Some reporting he wants to be reunited with an injury-prone, but technically dreamy Dembele who is struggling at Barca.
If he does sign on, then Arsenal has to begin the process of replacing the goals. Odsonne Edouard looks a serious talent for the future scoring a hat trick yesterday, we should be looking to find a striker like that to bring in as a deputy. We also need to find players that can share the burden of the goalscoring. It’s a little like the situation we had before Henry left, except I’m not sure we currently have many players that can step in.
Part of the creativity equation this summer has to be to find midfielders that can also score goals. We need to find players with Andrey, Santi, Pires, and Rosicky like vibes. It does seem increasingly likely that despite my anti-Kia agenda, we’ll be going there this summer, and if that brings in Willian and Coutinho, you’re hiring in talent that offers both creativity and goals. So that’s a good solve, but we still need to bring in young players behind them that can grow.
We’ll also need to look seriously at our centre back situation. I love Rob Holding, but I don’t think he’s comfortable enough on the ball to make it in the Arteta system. Sokratis seems like a nice guy, but he’s not the level needed. We have to find a ball playing centre back that is the right size, has the right amount of pace, and can grow with the team. David Luiz had a great game yesterday, but Arteta is absolutely kidding himself if he thinks that he’s taking us to top 4 next season as our regular starter.
There are a lot of rumours linking us to Sevilla’s Diego Carlos, he’s 6ft, right-footed, 27, and Brazilian. I’ve watched him for all of 6 minutes and he seems built for Arteta football. His comps position him as an all-action defender, he loves a Kolo-esque slide tackle, he pressures attackers with his aggression, and he has good strength and balance.
The great news is that we’re set on the keeper front. Emi Martinez has made an outrageously strong claim that he is number one. He’s barely put a foot wrong and if anything, he’s offered up a massive headache for Arteta because he’s a very different keeper to Bernd Leno. The two notable difference for me are his outrageous frame, which makes him hard to beat, and his command of the box. He catches, which is advantageous because in a fast system, controlling the ball is paramount. Leno likes to punch, which can cause problems with possession turnovers, and his lesser frame can see him pushed about a touch in the box. What Leno has is superior shot-stopping and I think he is better in one-on-one situations. Still, two great keepers, what a time to be alive.
Where I am interested to see what we do is in the fullback positions. Hector Bellerin was out of favour, then he came roaring back in. AMN was complaining that he wanted out, now he’s looking more and more like an extremely reliable executor of plans. He was brilliant in the semi and the final. His concentration is improving, he seems more bought into the project, and he has athletic gifts you dream of.
I’m still baffled that we opted for Soares in January, it’s early doors obviously, but I just don’t see it. Did we buy him to flip him? Or did we purchase him so we could sell one of AMN or Bellerin to bring in some much-needed cash this summer?
The midfield is going to be interesting from a selling perspective because that’s where I think we make our money. Lucas Torreira simply hasn’t worked out in the Premier League, he’s too small and he’s doesn’t make up for it with power or pace. He could be used as a decent make-weight with an Italian club. Matteo G dropped an Instagram post after the cup final celebrating the fact he was on holiday, you can’t knock him, he really is a bit of a whopper. Still, the reason I think the club hasn’t leaked much about him is that he’s revered as a super talent in Europe. I suspect he’ll get offers from Spain and Italy, and we really have to make them count. Getting Coutinho for £9m because we swapped Guendouzi would be a superb deal. Bringing a powerful player from Inter or Juve would also work for me. Whatever we do, we have to make it work. I’d ideally prefer a younger profile of player, but I do see the logic in the view that we already have a lot of young players, what we don’t have is reliable seniors that match the system we want to play.
The really big questions is this: What do you do about players that love their contracts?
The world is uncertain at the moment. Everyone knows shit is going to be bad for football clubs, so do players stick with big deals they love or do they move now and get some long-term security?
Sokratis earns about £90k week, he’s not getting that anywhere else. Mustafi earns the same, I think he’s been pretty good, but who will take him with an injury? Kola earns £120k a week because we picked him up on a free. We’re having to give Mikhi a free so Roma can afford him. Will anyone pay Lacazette £180k a week? Will Mesut Ozil see out the rest of his deal if he’s not even training? Will he really go full-on Winston Bogarde here? He absolutely has to go, we cannot continue to allow the grey cloud of the World Cup winner hang over us into another season.
Arsenal should reduce the wage bill this summer, hack out the expensive flops, and bring some normality and honesty to where we are as a club. I also think performance-based contracts should be given another spin.
Additionally, Arsenal needs to have those names pinned to a board with the headline PAY PLAYERS MARKET RATE. We cannot continue to lock ourselves into crazy deals for average talent. No more David Luiz deals for £200k a week. It’s only second-hand rumor, but it’s from a good place, that Willian has seen his deal half. From where, I don’t know, but I’d imagine if David Luiz was on £120k a week at Chelsea, and Willian is on the same, with the same agent, it’s probably from the same place. We cannot allow ourselves to be suckered into wasting money on old players that won’t be good in their third year. We need to do what we did for Mikel when he joined us, give him a longer deal on less money. More to the point, I really think we need to move away from signing players in their thirties.
So there are my hot thoughts on the summer and what we need to do. Arsenal will aim to move fast, Frank Lampard said Willian will reveal where he’s going over the next few days, and I’d imagine we’ll move into a speculation vortex over the coming 10 days.
Things to watch out for:
- Clubs still in the Champions League will likely not deal until after the tournament. News on Partey might be hard to come by.
- Anyone on Canales or Kia’s roster is viable because we are addicted to the contacts-teet
- I would give credibility to rumours around Lille, Barca, Sevilla, and even Wolves players because of the connections
Raul has to get this summer right. There is a huge focus on his actions from the bloggers, the media, and people within the club. Edu also has to show his value, being a handsome man alone cannot disguise a lack of creativity or vision. This summer absolutely must count. Clarity of vision and coherence in the execution is something we’ve lacked for a very long time, now is the time to make good on it and push us back into the top 4 next season.
Let’s see what they do, I’m excited either way, so let me know what YOU’D do in the comments below. xx