Well, it is very, very cold where I am. -20 outside. This is going to be one of those ‘should I have upgraded the furnace’ kind of weeks. I’m cold people. Hopes and prayers, please.
I tell you what is HAAAAWT. The ITK crowd is now saying that Ivan Toney is the choice of the club this summer, not a new narrative if you’ve been following Le Grove.
This makes sense for a number of reasons, the main one being that we can get him for about £60m this summer and free up cash to do some surgery elsewhere. The idea of raiding Serie A for £120m for Oshimen was always fanciful. Like it or not, Arteta sees Ivan Toney as the missing ingredient up top.
Personally, I agree. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a striker with that sort of aura. Maybe you have to go back to Adebayor for pure fear factor? Toney is great from setpieces, he’s a menace in the box, defenders hate playing against him, and if he can score 21 goals for Brentford, imagine what he’ll do in the Arsenal chances creation paradise?
We’re great at corners, we have a keeper that has a very successful past with him, the team is loaded with fast switch players that can pick out a dime from 50 yards. He’ll add something we haven’t had in our forwards since Giroud left for Chelsea.
He has an edge.
The biggest weakness of the signing is he is a NOW player. There is no sell-on clause. This is his last big deal. The positives are that he knows the league, he’s been to hell and back, and he’s absolutely desperate to prove that he is at the level.
This isn’t a sexy signing, but it could be very functional in a way that might surprise. Like a wallet you stick on the back of your phone. I’ve never done it, but I’d like to.
It could also go the other way and the level might be too high. He might not be able to live in a deepblock world. The weight of the shirt might hang too heavy on him.
I like the thinking though. You can scoff at it, but who else is out there that you could name as a better player? Not many. If an endangered species were in the footballing world, it’d be elite number 9s.
Talking about elite number 9s, Saudi Arabian football is going through its first mini-crisis. A haul of players are trying to exit at the moment because they don’t like it. Karim Benzema has no-showed to training a number of times this year, which could mean there’s a chance to loan move out to a team playing Porto in the next round of the Champions League.
Could that be Arsenal?
Could a player of his level be useful?
Is this the move that wins us the Premier League?
It’s one of those fanciful dreams you have when you play too much FIFA. The player is an outrageous talent, but he’s quite old now. 36 years old is a physical reality you have to face. Not many strikers in the Premier League are doing it at that age. He might do it in Italy, but in a team that needs everyone pressing at 100mph, I can’t see him working in our system. Even at 28, I’m not sure he was that player.
Always take your mind back to United finishing 2nd, then signing Cristiano, upsetting all the young players, then finishing outside the top 5. These old player loans are for the nostalgists. I don’t think we’ll be making a move like that.
Though it would be sexy… I remember being linked to Benzema before he moved to Madrid. What a player. One of the greats.
Let’s talk about Oscar Bobb scoring that incredible goal yesterday. It was a delicious ball from KDB, an outrageous touch and finish by an academy kid. Some Arsenal fans said it showed that we should be doing more to integrate kids.
My take? Look at what City do with their academy. It’s kind of genius in a very rich way.
They go out and find the best kids at every level. They pay them more than anyone else. So these kids earn elite money before they’re near the first team. They then give them the full Pep G coaching experience (via surrogates). These kids are trained to think faster and their depth of tactical knowledge combined with their talent makes the best prospects in the world to pick off.
They then mine them for the cream of the crop, like Oscar Bobb, who is already a full Norwegian international. This approach gives them a bank of luxury kids to sell on to the clubs that have the capacity to blood them young… and sell them they do. They’ve made over £263m since 2017 using this approach. James Trafford move to Burnley for £20m, wild money, we won’t get that for Reiss Nelson.
If we’re going to be honest, this isn’t a new idea, this is exactly what Arsene Wenger did when he was at Arsneal. We paid elite kids more to come to Arsenal than any other club. I can’t remember which Liveprool manager complained, but one said they competed with Arsenal for Denislon but couldn’t match the package. This approach gave us Cesc Fabregas and helped us form Project Youth 1.0. Wenger used to brag that he’d given more professional careers to kids than any other manager.
City do this on steroids and rocket boosters and it’s working to a higher level. City sell a player for £18m, then Chelsea buy them for £58m. Jeremie Frimpong went to Celtic for £400k, to Leverkusen for £4m, and he might boomerang back to be reunited with Arteta for £40m. The production line is insane.
So when you’re kicking Arsenal for not being more like City, know what you’re kicking. One of the most ruthless operations football has every seen, doing things at the next level, with extreme financial power.
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