I saw a thread on Twitter this morning from my good friend, Mario, @mr_arsenal and asked if he wanted to turn his thread of tweets into a blog. He agreed and here it is……
So…today, we have Wenger saying: “We have to very quickly get over this transfer period. For us this period has been more disturbing than ever. Why? Because we have big players at the end of their contract & that’s the first time it happens. It has been more destabilising than ever”. Let’s rewind back to our defeat to Sevilla in the Emirates Cup where Wenger said: “I think it is an ideal situation. When you are a football player you perform until the last days of your contract. I think the performance on the day does not depend on the length of the contract, if that was true we would sign everyone for 20 years and be happy.”
A little bit contradictory, no? This points out to some rather bad planning or not planning in time at all, maybe you can argue that there wasn’t common ground with the players themselves but nonetheless, you simply cannot put yourself in a position where you as a club, including the manager, are fine with having a dozen of players go into a very big season with contracts expiring at the very end of that same season. The fact that you have so many without new contracts might also indicate that some of them probably have set their eyes elsewhere and don’t mind collecting their wage with their mind not in the right state to play effectively 100% for you. It’s very disrespectful to us the fans but that’s not the point of this column. Further on, I’ll be looking into the Alexis situation and how we’ve handled it throughout the last 6 months and whether there’s light at the end of the tunnel for us.
Many of our fans, including those that I have been in close touch with for years now, are glad this saga is finally over, one way or another. Some will say it reminds them of the van Persie deal we did with United back in 2012 but I disagree, one reason why I disagree and I think it won’t hinder us like back then is the fact that we were in a worse position (board, staff and squad-wise) when we were selling RvP, second reason is I think we’ve seen enough of how detrimental Alexis can be when things aren’t in his favour – we’ve heard reports of training ground bust-ups, teammates not happy with his attitude and so on and so forth.
I think it’s best for all parties, even if it’s to a rival.
Let’s be honest, the type of player he is, he’s got 2-3 years left at the top and by the looks of things, we would’ve gotten the worse of those years – not because of the player but our system and manager itself. We’ve failed to build around our best player, Ozil, which is ridiculous, but we tried to do better with Alexis which at the start went well and then all went downhill with team selection lacking cohesion, chemistry, and player favouritism dominating the XI. I don’t want to get into those issues that are in the past tense since we have some new guys coming in, hopefully.
Honestly, we should’ve sold [Alexis] in the summer if we already knew he wasn’t going to even think about taking our 250-300k p/w offer, which apparently has been on the table for over a year now. However the fact that City, if we’re being real here – it’s their fault – left it so late that we couldn’t replace in time. They made it a tough one for us, since they weren’t willing to give up Sterling and our deadline day deal for Monaco’s Lemar was just impossible to wrap up in just a few hours, all things considered.
At that time and still, I think we made the right move. By doing that [not selling without a replacement in August], a new window of opportunities opened up this month – where we had City approaching us again but unwillingly to pay up they backed off which resulting in United jumping the gun and biting as hard as they can to get their man.
As much as I hate Mourinho and United, they did make us a good offer, we are instantly replacing the guy who’s head was never here in the first place starting from last summer, with a player who we desperately wanted two years ago. My only issue is Mkhitaryan’s age and the fact that I was excited about Malcom, with the initial reports that he’s our primary target to replace Theo, made it difficult to understand but now, I get our move. I like it even more with Aubameyang coming in as a Theo replacement, which instantly help both adjust here due to their great chemistry and understanding from their BVB days together.
Yes, we are losing around 200 club goals in 2 players this window but both were below par thus far and you could argue that our football hasn’t looked good for a while, so, it was clearly time for a change. Also, on the other side, apart from Ozil, our team lack-ed/s creativity when he’s not playing. Mkhitaryan changes that now, we lose a bit of goal threat in both Alexis and Theo but we do gain it in some fashion with Aubameyang.
Let’s not act like Aubameyang is some Class B striker coming in short term on a low fee, no, he’s a world class (arguably) striker that has an insane awareness in the box and has been firing on all cylinders for years now. I’ve also seen many Arsenal fans doubt the Mkhitaryan deal for ‘football reasons’, which I can’t understand really. We’re getting a guy who prior to United had a few double digit scoring and assisting seasons in the Bundesliga, his last season in Dortmund he had 55 goals+assists from which 32 were assists in all competitions. He’s a player that signed for a different type of manager that values a different type of football that doesn’t suit the style of football that Mkhitaryan has always played and excelled in his career.
Having that in mind, in recent years, we’ve seen Wenger get the best from his attacking players not so much with the rest, but from what I’ve been pointed out to, is that his best teams have always had an extra midfielder/creative forward out wide (Pires/Hleb/Nasri), maybe this is a change for the greater good – I hope. Stats are also, very much, on both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan’s side, I cannot fathom how one Arsenal fan simply cannot be excited about these two moves, putting their ages on the side – which is the only real issue, getting tied down to 3 & ½ year deals with 28, 29 year olds is not a long term plan which I think we need at this stage. That being said, I am excited for them to join.
We finally, in my honest opinion, have personnel that’ll balance the XI from GK to CF. Assuming we get 10-20 million, we also might get none, and Mkhitaryan who’ll be on around 140k p/w for Alexis and Aubameyang for 60 million (?) while getting 20 million + add ons for Theo and add another 15 million for Coquelin, I think we’ve done more than well enough to replace what we’ve lost and potentially improve our squad and football for the remainder of the season in our fight to secure Top 4 and potentially win the EFL Cup and EL, which in my opinion should be our focus because we are falling behind in the race for 4th place.
Being in the CL next season is a must. There’s talks about it, but if we add Giroud to sweeten the deal for BVB instead of paying 60+ million, we’d need at least 1 more in this month but I highly doubt it. However, I’d be lying if I said this was good planning, it doesn’t seem like well planned at all, it just looks like we’ve hit on the right doors at the right time and got extremely lucky. I must say though, the fact that we asked City and United for players in return suggests that we weren’t going to settle for a low fee alone, let’s be honest the 20 million offer from City was rather disrespectful. In that aspect, dealing Alexis, we certainly had our eyes on something from the beginning, will not criticize that.
All in all, this has been one of Arsene’s and Arsenal’s most exciting January transfer windows and definitely the biggest in terms of moves made and money spent. You could say we handled the situation we’re in, in this moment very well, whether we should’ve done it in July is another story. This, honestly, if we manage to move Welbeck in the summer whilst adding a guy like Malcom or Pavon, would mean we’ve figured out our forward line very well and we’re set for the next, arguably, 4 years. This won’t be enough for us to get back in the future mix without some defensive and midfield reinforcements. Even if all this comes to pass it would be a waste if we don’t manage to extend Ozil, which I think we will.
We’re stuck with Wenger until June ’19, there’s no chance he steps down before and I hope he sees that a new contract, once again, can’t be justified in front of the fans. It is definitely time for him to go, but, I hope he’s got a plan on how NOT to make the next [his last] season the worst Arsenal season under his management, yes we can be worse than we are right now- but judging by the moves this month I think we might be in for a treat-, and actually prep the club for life after him with the help of Sven and Raul, alongside Ivan.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Whether you disagree or not, please share your thoughts with me – @mr_arsenaI, I’m always up for Arsenal related conversations with fellow Arsenal fans.
Thanks to our new writer today, Mario.