A few things on the agenda today.
Thomas Partey’s rep came out with a eulogy to his injury yesterday, then quickly backtracked and told Arsenal fans not to panic. Let’s hope there’s some good news. It sounds like he’s going to miss the Brentford game regardless, which is annoying, but it’s not a death strike on our season.
There’s news doing the rounds that Arsenal are about to give Xhaka a forever contract to stay at Arsenal. There’s no way of cutting it, the news is disappointing. The player wanted to leave a month ago, now we can’t get a buyer for him we want to offer him more money and a deal until he’s is 34 years old? He’s deal has two years left to go, shouldn’t we just be extending a year? He just had the tournament of his life and the best bid we could land was £10m. I struggle to see how a transfer bounce next season sees a bid higher? Generally, there’s been logic behind most of things we’ve done this year, hopefully that’s just bad information in the system, because that is an awfully long contract for someone of that age that wanted out last week.
Still, it does appear that the reason we said no was a simple one: We couldn’t afford a replacement with £10m and that would eat into the rest of our summer plans.
Which brings us on nicely to the news that Arsenal are in fact heading in for James Maddison. If you told me we’d keep Xhaka if it meant we could sign Maddison, I am going to take that deal. The rumour has been hanging in the air like a rich attuned cologne for months, now it seems like we’re pushing in with offerings of some of our Hale-Enders. The whole thing still feels a little nuts to me, especially when the offer is Ainsley the other way. But we’ll see. If the player wants out and we have cash, these things can happen fast.
There’s also some more yin to yang. Mo Elneny might be hanging around the squad like the guy who overstays their welcome at your party… but some of the journos are saying that Azeez is going to be kept around this summer. You know what I like about this? Everything. The player looked transformed the other day, he’s moved from a waif-like child to a powerhouse in a few months. That’s putting in the hard-work and being rewarded.
What does hack me off is that a whole section of people have to immediately made it about Saliba. Can’t we just take it as ‘well, it’s clearly not a kids thing that is going on here’ and be happy for another Hale-Ender?
It is interesting though, because a lot of the kids are looking like men right now. Eddie has looked our best striker in preseason. He looks fit, focused and he’s making a difference every time he arrives on the pitch. The shame is we’ll end up keeping Lacazette around over one of the young players. There might be some regret in the system at some point with Eddie, because with games, he’ll bang them in. Trouble is, the club seems to have put their chips on Balogun and he shares an agent with Eddie. Can’t tell both players they’ll get minutes this season. One will have to go.
It’ll also be interesting to see what happens with Joe Willock. He caused chaos the other day, had a great stint with Newcastle, but if we’re going for Maddison, where does he fit? Seems the Geordies might have found some money for him, and be willing to go to £23m.
I also wanted to revisit the Chelsea game one more time, because some of the coverage of that game was embarrassing. It’s preseaon. Nothing matters bar fitness and tactical coaching. No one has any idea how much hard-work went on in the week prior to that game. No one knows what the purpose of the run-out was. Some fans seem more intent on being the first to call the season over than to actually let things play out and see where we land. The game was messy, but I’ve seen 4 comps of 4 different players doing the rounds… so clearly, there’s some good stuff going on. Thomas Partey is going to be on fire this season, Sambi Lokonga looked comfortable against good opposition, ESR is going to be more on the front foot this season… and it’s clear we’re not going to be deep-blocking against West Ham this season. The football is going to kick up a gear with a higher line with players that can handle it.
Imagine how much better things will be when we have all our transfer business done and we welcome back the two Gabriel’s and Bukayo Saka.
Finally, did anyone notice Spurs going for one of those European bargain right-sided ball-playing centre backs for £50m? Anyone following Chelsea tracking Kounde from broke Spain with a £60m bid? A lot of people slagging Arsenal for paying the English tax on Ben White… I’d maybe suggest it’s a tax on ball-playing centre backs that are 23 or younger, because those two are certainly not coming here on the bargain prices everyone critiqued Arsenal for not leaning in on.
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