Listen, I’ve had my say on Arsenal this week. The bad news must surely all be out, so I’ll move on and land more positive vibes.
We’ve ditched our scouting department. From what I understand from multiple places, this is a really smart move and we shouldn’t fear it. Our hit rate has been miserable for years and we’ve wasted a lot of money.
If Edu says he wants to move to a Michael-Edwards-Liverpool-style of data intelligence, then let’s see if he does it. Nothing he’s done at Arsenal so far suggests that’s what he’s about, so the onus is on him to make the right promotions, bring in the best talent, and move beyond CHECK DIS GUY e-mails from Kia for his transfer inspiration.
With regards to the layoffs, it sounds like they went right at the areas of business that are, well, pretty redundant for the foreseeable. Sales, admin, and premium partnerships. I’d have had them on commission for selling our best players for ‘very good price’ to the highest bidder this summer, but it is what it is, Arsenal wants to be a cost-conscious business in a pandemic, so there we are.
What all the bad news won’t change is that the manager we have at the club is the real deal. The players finally have someone in charge that commands respect, the training ground is buzzing again, and there is a very clear and ambitious vision Arteta is trying to unlock.
So what next?
Well, summer is about to start. Let’s walk through the smoke and see if we can identify where the fires🔥 are at.
Our BEST player is apparently nearing a 3 year £250k a week deal to stay at Arsenal. He’s happy, the elders are happy, the deal is close. This would be huge news and a testament to the coach that he’s managed to convince a man in his absolute prime that 8th place Arsenal is the destination for him. Auba has been committed, he’s developed his game, and his leadership has been all about setting an example for others. What a deal that’d be.
One of his stipulations is that he wants to see that Pam in accounts safe in her job… along with some big money spent on this squad. Some papers are saying the club is looking to drop £100m… if we can shift on talent.
QUESTION: How long does the club wait on the deal? What happens if he says no?
One of the players who has been put up for sale is Ainsley. The versatile midfielder turned right-back has been told if the big money comes in for him this summer, he’ll be moved on. The caveat is that Mikel doesn’t want to see him go. Bit of a weird caveat. One thing is for sure, we’re stocked down the right and no one is buying Soares out of his freshly minted 4-year deal. A £30m fee is being mooted, which seems quite high given the moment. I don’t fully understand the thinking here, I think the player has been excellent when called upon, he seems to pick up Arteta’s instructions quicker than most, and he’s executed plans to the T at the highest level. Maybe we’ve pumped his value? Maybe the player wants to be the name ALWAYS on the teamsheet? Seems an odd one, but if that’s what the management brain trust wants, then there we are.
I read a tweet where someone said ‘I feel like Torreira has been talking about leaving since joining’, and I agree.
“Today I need to think about my future very well. I have a contract with the club and I have to respect it, obviously if I have to leave it will be for the best. We have to be calm and wait”
Look, this is what happens when you bring in the right profile of player and pay them market rate. LT had some promise… it didn’t work out, so we’ll sell him back to the country he came from at a similar price point. Torreira looked like he made sense, aggressive, good on the ball, with sharp technical skills. The problem has been that he just isn’t at the right level physically for the Premier League. If we can get a deal from Milan (YO IVAN) or Torino (his old coach now there), then everyone would be happy.
There are also a lot of rumours doing the rounds that the socially conscious right-back wants to lay down roots (geddit) in another league. He’s been with us for 9 or so years, I’m not sure he ever recovered physically or mentally from that injury so it might be time to try another catwalk. He is a good player, he’s young, and he’d fetch a pretty decent fee.
… I’d have to find another muse, but it’s fine, I’ll be ok.
Look, it’s obvious we need to shift on some of the centre backs, especially if we’re bringing in Gabriel. Sokratis is on a big salary, so he might have to be offered a way out of his deal in the same way Mikhi was. No one is going to him with £90k a week and a fee. Rob Holding would be perfect for a sale. He’s currently on his holidays with Jenks. I think he’d do well in the Premier League, he’d fit perfectly in a setup that didn’t require too much passing under pressure, like, maybe Burnley? We also have to exit Kola. He’s on a big contract because we bosman-d him a few years back, but he just hasn’t hit the mark, he’s not up to the mental rigours of the game, and his defending is really, really poor. There could at least be a fee there.
THE YOUNG GUNS
I think we’ll see some movement with the young players for sure this summer. I have no doubt that Matteo will find a new home, absolute LOLz from the back of the room that BIG UNAI is sniffing around for a loan deal, not sure that’s what the Frenchman had in mind. We really need to max out the fee for Matteo or get a major swap involved. Lyon beat Juve last night, they are back to the big time, we know they are interested, so maybe something can be done there with Aouar? We know that Balogun will be moved on for a fee of £8m, I’m having GnabryMalenJeffBennacerHOTsweats over that potential exit. Talking of Bennacer, he’s on his holidays with Reiss Nelson. Another player I expect to fetch a good fee this summer.
‘There ain’t room in this town for the two of us’ is what Auba apparently said when Edu told him the money for his new deal was coming from selling Lacazette. It’s apparent the French striker maybe doesn’t quite fit what we need in our forward line next season. He’s apparently drawn to Juventus. He’s a top goal scorer, he has a great attitude, and he’s a big name. We’ll either need to max out the fee there or make the swap count hard. We’ll also need to find a replacement, we can’t be heading into the next season relying on just Auba and Eddie.
This summer is likely to be nuts. Stretched clubs trying to save money and face. Rich clubs trying to pick off the weaklings. There will be opportunities that pop up that could surprise. Mesut Ozil, our contractually obliged rock, might not fancy spending a year in Turkey doing nothing, hardly good for the profile. Someone might make a sexy offer for one of the players we thought unmovable (Granit/Mustafi/Leno). There are many things that could unexpectedly happen and I think we have to be open to them.
We have to come out of the summer with a squad that is shaped to the vision of the manager. We need technically proficient players. That doesn’t simply mean being good on the ball, it means having the intelligence to absorb and execute complex ideas. We need to have a set of players up the physical challenges of the league. The right size, explosive pace, the ability to go 3 games a week without injury or loss of form. The major difference between ok players and the elite is the lack of mistakes. Pep always says that Garcia, who wants Barca, doesn’t make mistakes. Our Didier-Drogba-like-nightmare last year wasn’t a player, it was ‘UNFORCED ERROR.’ We need to change that up. We also need to bring in players that have the right mentality so when things inevitably go off the rails, we don’t have lower back pain issues for big away days.
We also need to start buying with long-term value in mind. Willian should be the exception, not the rule. If we’re a cost-conscious club, then we need to focus on players that have value if they don’t work out. We should look for opportunities in the market, like Gabriel and Saliba. That applies to the other end of the scale as well because we bought Pepe at 24 years old, but we spent so much on him, it’s very, very unlikely we’ll ever recoup that.
One last thing on the vision of Edu now focusing on data and analytics. We had a bit of a debate about it in the comments yesterday, some saying that it was logical that the Brazilian focused on restructuring the youth setup in his first year, over the scouting. I can’t for the life of me unpack those mental gymnastics. Firstly, you can do more than one thing at a time. Secondly, the youth setup, for all its failings, has produced Saka, Eddie, Willock, ESR, Balogun, Tyreece, and Smith.
The burning hot mess at Arsenal was surely our transfer approach? Why would you wait until year two to implement data and analytics? Because at best, if you are starting from scratch, it’s going to be at least another year before you see the fruits of a new centralised approach? Unless there is some tech partnership I’m unaware of? I mean, look, there is obviously a lot that I am unaware of, I’m just asking why you’d wait an entire year to decide all those people you’ve been working with are shite and that the approach was backwards. Surely the red flag was having to sign David Luiz to replace Laurent Koscielny when the club had a 3-month headstart? It seems like the corporate version of starting a job at Blockbuster Video and focusing your first year on a logo redesign versus addressing the Netflix issue.
Regardless, it’s done. Let’s see who Edu brings in or promotes and what sort remit they are given. I am more than game to see us try and behave like Liverpool and I’m glad that people at Arsenal think this move is a good one IF Edu is capable of hiring the right people.
Right, on that note, fuck off, see you in the virtual bar. xx