It’s a week of crusty bread and dry cornflakes at the Arsenal training ground this week. For what else could add the crunch to the talks which are apparently set to take place with both Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie.
Crunch talks are like transfer swoops – there’s rarely much swooping and I suspect the talks will be quite moist and easily chewable. This morning’s Independent says that Robin van Persie’s ‘first choice’ is to go to Juventus, but he hasn’t ruled out going to either Manchester club. You will excuse me if I take that information with a large pinch of salt. Perhaps it’s my cynical nature but I just think it’s a bit of PR so he can say “Well, I really did want to go to Juventus but it just didn’t work out. Instead I was forced, nay coerced, into a move to Manchester City. I honestly didn’t even want this much money. But sure here I am, I might as well get on with it.”
Now, for me this would be the ideal scenario, van Persie going abroad would be far easier to take than him going to Manchester (red or blue, but especially blue). He could follow the path of Liam Brady and when he comes back to play for West Ham in his dotage there wouldn’t be as much in the way of opprobrium heaped upon him. Juventus are a big, historic club, not some nouveau riche, lavish, blinged-up shopaholics who can’t quite believe the number of zeros in their bank balance and have all the prestige of a night out with a bunch of reality TV ‘stars’.
Yet, I wonder and I am dubious. Apparently van Persie was back at training yesterday, he underwent a medical (which I assume is par for the course when a player returns after their summer holidays), and I suspect it might all have been a bit awkward. Whether Arsene knew nothing about the statement which caused the bombshell I guess we’ll never know. The club weren’t expecting it, so there will definitely be some tricky moments – especially when he has to sit down with the boss and Ivan Gazidis who wasn’t as on holidays as van Persie said he was.
I still believe that the statement was issued to make his position at the club untenable and I believe the reason for that was to force a move to Man City. If Juventus really was his priority then there’s no reason at all why it couldn’t have been done in a much more civilised fashion. There would have been no need to rock the boat like that. As much as we don’t/didn’t want to lose him, a move to Serie A would not require that kind of play. The Sun quotes a club spokesperson, who said:
Robin returned to training on Monday as expected and made it clear he wants to sit down and resolve the matter of his future, either way, as soon as possible.
No date has yet been agreed for that meeting.
Which is more or less what you’d expect but the task of sorting that future out has been made more complicated by the actions of van Persie and his agent. As I keep saying, however, the outcome should be the one that most benefits Arsenal, not the player.
There are also talks planned with Walcott, but we know this already and there isn’t much to add to what I said yesterday. The refusal to sign a new deal and the way he pulled out of talks may well be brinksmanship, it may well be a signal that he wants to move on. What was interesting yesterday was the way people reacted to the latter scenario. If there was almost total unhappiness that van Persie would want to depart, opinion was very much divided regarding Walcott.
There are those who rightly point to the goals and assists, others who focus on the performances which fail to produce. The truth, obviously, lies somewhere in between. It will be interesting to see how the manager reacts to this particular issue. Obviously he’s put a lot of time and effort into Theo but maybe he’s concerned that some of the basics a player of his experience – despite his young age – just don’t seem to have developed. If he makes a strong play to keep him then he’s obviously confident that his best years are ahead of him, if not then he is generally a good judge of when to let a player go.
Anyway, whatever the particular sound of these talks is, crunchy, munchy, sticky, slurpy or burpy, you have to hope that resolutions are found quickly. It’s almost exactly a month until the new season kicks off, that’s no time at all and we need to be better prepared this time around. We were quite decisive when it came to the captures of Podolski and Giroud, let’s do likewise when it comes to the van Persie/Walcott situations.
In transfer news The Mirror says we’ve made an official £6m bid for Caen youngster M’Baye Niang, who was on trial with us last week. It seems Man City are sniffing around, there’s a surprise, and we’re having to move fast to make it happen. I think you do have to ask questions about this, if a player is worth a £6m bid why is there a need to bring him on trial? And why would Caen let a player worth that much go on trial. Like a clown turning up to babysit, there’s just something not quite right about this whole thing.
Right, that’s yer lot for this morning. More contractual crunchiness tomorrow.