* I recognise the headline might be a touch hyperbolic, but it’s just to create the talking point.
So far, Arsenal are struggling to move players on this summer. I read this morning that Fiorentina have ended their pursuit of Lucas Torreira because we won’t lower the asking price of €30m despite the Italian side offering to pay €25m in two installments. Like every transfer story, you take it with a pinch of salt. There are so many outlets these days, so many clicks to be had and all the rest, so it’s more important than ever to apply some critical thinking to what’s being reported.
What seems to be true though is that Torreira wants to leave, but so far nobody has come up with the kind of offer that has been deemed acceptable (although I suspect if there really was €25m on offer we’d have taken it). There is still time, of course, as the window is open until October 6th – and beyond that there’s a supplementary window in which Premier League clubs can do deals with EFL clubs (and vice versa) until October 16th.
Mikel Arteta’s recent comments about Matteo Guendouzi being given another chance were seen as part of a strategy to repair his reputation. Nobody wants a troublemaker, a ne’er-do-well, a messer, a gurrier, the class clown. Make it seem like we want to keep him, that we’re ready to harness his admittedly fairly average talent, and this might make other clubs think again and give us some money for him.
So far … zip. Nothing. Nada. Not a peep. A player many people assumed would generate a significant fee that we could then reinvest in another midfielder has attracted about as much interest as a nettle sandwich. We’ve had to give Henrikh Mkhitaryan away for free just to get him off the wage bill. There were stories yesterday that Mikel Arteta is ‘resigned’ to the fact Mesut Ozil is going to stay for another year, which is perhaps an invention of the press but does seem to capture something about the situation given all that has occurred before now. Besiktas say Mohamed Elneny is too expensive for them.
Sokratis is still here. Sead Kolasinac wants to go back to Schalke and become captain but Arsenal want £15m for him, a price the German side are unable able to pay. Rob Holding was supposed to go to Newcastle on loan but there’s been a bit of a u-turn there. I can understand why – he’s fit and available and experienced. The other options, William Saliba and Gabriel, are young and relatively inexperienced. It seems strange to think a €30m signing might need time to settle in, but bar some kind of injury issues, I don’t expect him to start against Fulham, and I don’t think throwing a 19 year old into the fray right from the start is particularly sensible, regardless of his potential.
Alexandre Lacazette, at 29, with his contributions in terms of goals significantly waning, and with two years left on his contract, is a player we should ordinarily be selling this summer. Take the money, reinvest in someone younger, and develop their potential. It’s not ordinary though. The world is very far from normal in all kinds of way and it’s clearly having an impact. From what we understand, there’s been almost no interest in the Frenchman, and the reality is that while we might still want to sell, an asset which is worth a certain amount now – even in the Covid market – will be worth a lot less in 12 months time, at which point he might decide he’ll just see the last year of his contract out rather than move (which he would be quite entitled to do, by the way).
My understanding of our financial situation is that we need to sell to buy. It doesn’t mean every penny we spend has to come from incoming deals, but there’s a strong correlation between what we’re going to be able to shell out and what we bring in via sales. So, frustration at the fact we haven’t added that midfielder we all want needs to be tempered by market forces and our inability – thus far – to shift some of the players we’d be happy to move on.
And let me be clear: I have every sympathy for the people trying to do those deals because playing hardball in a depressed market when the world and its mother know you desperately need cash is not easy. Unfortunately, it’s likely to require some compromise, or sanctioning outgoing deals which wouldn’t be top of your list.
The Athletic reported last night (£) that Aston Villa have come back in for Emi Martinez with a bid much closer to the £20m that would make Arsenal sell. He wants to be a number 1 somewhere, he knows his stock is as high as its ever been, but despite his recent impressive spell, Bernd Leno is still considered the best goalkeeper at the club. We need money, here’s money.
But even if we did sell Emi, some of it would be needed to fund a replacement. Our goalkeeping coach, Inaki Cana Pavon, came to us via Brentford, so you don’t need to put two and two together to understand why our main target to provide back-up to the German is David Raya. The Championship side are reportedly steadfast in their desire to keep him, which probably means we haven’t got close to their valuation of him. Emi out, money in; Raya in, money out. And we still have to fund the midfielder.
The transfer window holy grail.
Who will it be? When will it be? How will it be?
Your guess is as good as mine at this point.
As a club we haven’t really sold well – bar the occasional anomaly – for some time. We’re now trying to improve that track record with new but relatively inexperienced executives and a manager who has still to hit the 12 month mark in his first job. Which is to say that this is as challenging a scenario as we’ll ever have faced. The Premier League slush fund, with money here, there, and everywhere, is no longer what it was. In general, clubs are having to think very carefully about how they spend and who they spend it on.
I don’t know that we’ve got a lot that excites the market, which makes it a big challenge, and that may well have an impact on how we can improve the squad. Arteta has said his first job is to improve the players he has at his disposal already – something Dani Ceballos has been quite vocal about – and the reality is that might be a major part of next season too.
Let’s keep watching, but it seems clear now that there’s nothing happening before Fulham, so we have to get a result there with what we’ve got right now.
I’ll leave you this morning with a brand new Arsecast Extra, all the links you need to listen and subscribe are below. Enjoy!