It feels like I’ve been cranking content all week and what do I have to show for it?
No one sold.
No one purchased.
I am starting to lose my patience. Thinking of sending Edu a seriously firm Instagram DM about my feelings.
The Granit Xhaka story is dragging like an N’Zogbia transfer rumour of yester-window. The clubs are in the final stages of negotiations, it looks like it’s going to happen, just get it done. After watching the Italy game, I couldn’t be happier. Xhaka is solid, but you’re simply not going anywhere with a good technician with no pace in midfield. If you are going to have no pace, be Locatelli with the low-punch shots. What a talent.
The story we’re all purring over is Sambi Lokonga. We really have no idea why, other than it feels intelligent and like a Wenger singing of old. New Youtube channel Latte Firm dropped this infographic.
Do I know what it all means? No. Am I going to draw sharp conclusions that this guy is taking Arsenal back to the absolute pinnacle of European football? Absolutely.
There is business to be done this summer and I think there’s a fine balance between making sure we’re ready for next season, whilst raiding European clubs on their knees. Sambi looks like a shadow player for Thomas Partey. Both seem to boast similar features. We need squad players with levels and we need to own them. Our Madrid loan options last season gave us the worst of both worlds. Odegaard did well, we wanted him, but Madrid saw enough promise to keep him. Ceballos had an absolute shocker, stunk out our first team for the most part, so we wasted development minutes on someone else’s player.
I am diving two-footed into the Premier League talent we’re trying to sign. James Maddison, without doubt, would be an excellent signing for Arsenal. Ben White, without doubt, would be an excellent signing for what need from a defender. There’s a lot of scoffing from Arsenal fans that spent 10 years demanding we ‘spend some fucking money’, now we’re doing it on players that will settle into the first team and deliver from day one, people are complaining about fees?
Ben White is a ball-playing centre-back that has made his mistakes at other clubs, he will complement our defence and pick up the good bits of David Luiz, whilst adding what he didn’t have… pace, motivation, and focus. You do not survive a season with Bielsa if you don’t put the work in, boast high levels of fitness, and have finesses on the ball with the ability to move the ball forward. While the internet was purring over Bissouma, their fans were purring over Ben White, who was named their player of the season in the fan vote. That’s the difference between actually watching Brighton and watching comps of Brighton.
James Maddison is an unquestionable talent that we lack. He’s 18 months younger than Grealish, 5 years younger than KDB, and since his Premier League debut he’s one bested by KDB for chance creation. How am I reading Arsenal fans scoff at this name? Someone moaned that he dresses like he’s buying from Hypebeast, what sort of criticism is that? If anything, signing him feels unrealistic because he’s the sort of player that ends up going to Chelsea or United.
Moving on two players of that age and profile moves us up a level instantly. You can’t argue the impact that would have on our season. When you ask Arsenal to spend some money, this is where the pennies should be going. If we’re trying to replicate the City model, this is our attempt at KDB and Dias.
I don’t even want to start on the Calvert Lewin rumors, that’d just be far too sexy for all of us to handle right now.
There’s still smart money to be spent elsewhere. Josh Doig, the Hibernian left-back, is being heavily linked. He’s 19-years-old and 6ft2, but he’s attracting a lot of attention. The worry is if Tierney breaks down, which is likely, you’ve an untested quantity filling in, but also, the benefit is then you are building out someone with a resale value and you also have a succession plan for KT (hopefully we don’t need one). The lesson from last season is young players are hungry and tend to take their chance. I’d be excited to have a promising back-up system being built out.
There’s a good keeper out there, somewhere, that we’ll have to pick up. Aaron Ramsdale for £20m does not feel like smart money when you can pick up someone like Onana for a pittance. Arsenal has been shocking with keeper signings over the years, our best #1 was Emi Martinez and we bombed him off. I know it goes without saying, but if you want an example of why a Ben White type player needs to be signed, just look at how our playing out the back dipped when Martinez left. The best keepers in world football these days can play through the lines better than Mo Elneny, we need to find one if we want to be more effective and unpredictable in this new system.
We also need to build out the right side of our defence. Cal Chambers is a very decent player, his delivery is excellent and he’s tactically astute (everyone at Arsenal loves him as well). The worry is that he very much looks like a centre-back playing right back. I have no idea where we’ll go here, but we need to find a player with the correct athletic profile that can invert. I know, I know… Ainsley could do that role, it’s such a shame he’d rather bum around in center-midfield at Watford than make a career at a club that could take him to the top but there we are. Delusions of grandeur is a bit of a problem with some of the Hale-Enders on the fringes.
We’ve also not spoken much about the #9 position, that might be because our hands are tied. I’m not sure anyone is giving Lacazette £180k a week and Auba on £350k a week is immovable unless he decides like Willian he just doesn’t fancy the slog. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll have a year like the last one from Auba again. The pattern of players we’re bringing in all points towards freeing him up earlier with better chances.
I also think Flo Balogun is going to be a very special player, he’s the closest player we have to Aguerro in style and athletic profile. I’m not sure how Arteta is going to manage his career because there’s a real story to be told with regards to loans. Do Arsenal keep Balogun on the bench like we did Eddie? Or do we send him on a short loan at the start of the season so he can develop in a starting 11? People get absolutely hysterical about loans, but forget that players like Harry Kane went on four of them. Same could be said of William Saliba. There’s no European football next season, what is best for his development? Our bench for 4 months, or Newcastle’s first team for the same time period to adapt to the language and the pace on someone else’s dime? Who knows, but the fact people get so emotional about it is a very, very Arsenal fan thing.
Finally, let’s talk about that time we spent a load of money with Lille that looked VERY odd. Remember I told you to look at the sort of people we were dealing with? Remember the exBarca exec that was at Lille at the time? Remember that outrageous fee we paid Lille who were in deep, deep shit that summer unless they sold at a big price?
The French justice system are looking into the Victor Osimhen deal last summer, as only €10M of €81.3M deal reached Lille. In the last 4 years, former Lille owner Gerard Lopez has transferred €67.7M to companies headed by himself. (@lequipe)
— SSC Nap⚽️li News (@SSCNapoliNews_) June 18, 2021
If I speak, I am in trouble.
Football is a dirty game. Genaro Gattuso lost his job at Fiorentina after two weeks because he brought his super-agent buddy to the table. It is stunning that now Spurs are negotiating with him, mainly because he’s a bang-average coach, but also because it shows their lack of ideas… if you are outsourcing your Sporting Director role to a super-agent, you are fucked.
Talking of the Spurs manager job, let’s use this moment to highlight what I told you in December… fear what comes next. Spurs, for all the banter, is a London club with an elite stadium and a squad people thought could contend the title last season. They’ve been rejected by Poch and Conte. They had to lower themselves to Fonseca, who is a good coach, but coming out from under a cloud. Now they are bumming around with passion merchants and their unsavory handlers.
I’m telling you this because it feels like there’s a pattern emerging. The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and rockstar managers will only join if they have to tools to win. The idea that we’ll sack Arteta and get Conte or Nagelsmann is fanciful because our project lacks elite levers. Spurs are struggling because no one wants to come here and fight four Goliaths with David money.
It’s still really funny though… really funny.
On that note, remember to check out the two podcasts we produced this week. They are of fine quality. Johnny is no full-time on the team, he changed his bio to reflect the blood agreement we have. Give him a follow on the internet here.