I have never experienced cold like I have this past week… negative 21 celsius. I live in a 200-year house with wood windows that are ornately huge. They were such a perk in the summer. In the winter? A damn deathtrap. It was so cold in my kitchen, it froze the food in my fridge. I had to chop wood for the fire, buy 2 heaters, and beg the energy gods to show mercy to my weak and decrepit furnace.
However, the upshot, is -12 today actually felt warm. Am I… midwestern?
Less about the weather. Let’s talk about Arsenal.
Ivan Toney has been in the news chatting about starting a fashion line and learning how to act after his playing days are over. I like the ambition, but it does remind me that players who are closing in on 30 have things outside the beautiful game on their minds. Coaching badges, business degrees, property portfolios… these are all the things they have to think about, and sometimes it can cloud their focus on the job at hand.
I’m not saying that’s the case here, but I do get a bit twitchy after some of our ‘older than 26 signings’ showed a distinct lack of focus when given bumper final deals.
The reason I don’t care about Toney comments is this is a man who has been through it all. He failed at Newcastle, he had to go down the lower divisions, he made it up by getting promoted, and now he’s playing at a very high level with the laser-focused belief that he’s one of the big dogs of the Premier League. One of the greatest motivators in life is being put into situations with people who don’t believe in you because you’ve done things a different way. Ivan Toney is that guy, he’s the Ian Wright of this Arsenal team. You could even say Olivier Giroud, though that story wasn’t as glorious as Wright’s, he still went onto win it all despite having a very slow start to his professional career.
I like players that have slummed it – because once you’ve been to the bottom, you never want to go back.
Anyway, this is what he had to say to Sky outside his post-career stuff.
“You can never predict the right time to move elsewhere, but it’s obvious I’d like to play for a top club fighting for titles. Whether it’s this January, if a club were to come in and pay the right money, who knows.”
Only one club a player of his age could be talking about – put your money on it and remember who ran with this story from very early on.
The guy from Teamtalk who told everyone we were in for Onana this month is now telling everyone we’re in for Karim Benzema.
Come on people, don’t do it to yourself again.
Jordan Henderson has terminated his deal with Al-Ettifaq to join the MIGHTY Ajax. This is quite something. He took massive money, a massive hit to his personal brand… and he lasted 6 months. There’s also talk that Firmino is going to exit as well as Karim Benzema who is definitely joining Arsenal. Neves probably won’t last.
Is this showing limitations to how far money can take the Saudi league? Does this show that money alone cannot buy you a footballing culture? Or is this just an example of players used to a Western lifestyle struggling to adapt to a culture that is very different?
Whatever it is, you have to wonder if Saudi will see bigger wins in investing in settled sports with history versus trying to grow their own at tremendous expense without guarantees of success. It has been notable that we haven’t seen an exodus of players to Saudi this window so far… wouldn’t it be delicious if PIF decided NOT to spend £200m on Mo Salah at the end of the season? It would. I hope they don’t spend that money.
Ok, before I go, please check out Matt’s latest podcast with one of the best experts on FFP and PSR. He’ll give you all the details you don’t understand and make you an expert at the pub this Friday.