inevitably, now that the Euro dust has settled, the lack of real news means focus turns on the Arsenal story that’s easy to write about: Robin van Persie. If you’re short on copy, you can pretty much just make something up and it’ll sound feasible.
So if a newspaper says Arsene Wenger is planning to talk to van Persie, well, it’s entirely reasonable because of course he is. Stick in the word ‘crunch’ there somewhere and it adds some danger and excitement to the mix, because a manager speaking to his captain about a contract which runs out in 12 months … blimey, that’s some serious insight.
Right up there with:
WENGER PLANS TO EAT FOOD FOR BREAKFAST and ARSENAL MANAGER WILL BRUSH TEETH LAST THING AT NIGHT.
That’s not to say this isn’t an important situation that needs to be resolved one way or the other but there’s little new for us to sink our teeth into. The Chairman has spoken about it, to say we’re not of a mind to sell, according to the Mirror:
As far as I am aware, nobody has made any offer for him and he is away so we are not in any dialogue at all. We are not in the remotest bit interested in selling him.
And I don’t suppose it will be long before that’s spun to: WENGER HASN’T SPOKEN TO VAN PERSIE ABOUT NEW CONTRACT, but obviously that’s because he’s taken the family to Butlin’s to get away from it all after the Euros. As ever the whole thing is 50-50, he’ll either stay or he won’t and the same goes for his contract, he’ll sign a new one, or he won’t. Complicated stuff, I know. There were reports yesterday that we turned down £8m from Juventus but this is the kind of guff that’s easy to write and even easier to ignore. Time will tell.
Let’s not forget this is the time of year when agents who are trying to move players on get stories in papers to build interest in their clients. There were suggestions yesterday that we might spend €16m on Hugo Lloris after L’Equipe ran a story but I just can’t see that being anything other than a bit of profile for the Frenchman. In seasons past it was simple to link any keeper around with a move to Arsenal because our options were unconvincing for so long.
Yet Arsene has put a solid 12 months into developing Wojciech Szczesny and it’d amaze my balls clean off if we then went out and spent a near club record fee on another goalkeeper. There were moments last season, and I think the Euros backed it up, which showed that Szczesny is a good way from being the finished article. He’s confident and brash but, as I said at the time, I suspect the painful European Championships he suffered will have hurt a great deal and he’ll learn a lot from them. Whatever about his cockiness, he has a clear desire to work hard and be as good a keeper as he can.
Assuming Fabianski and Mannone both leave, I see two options for replacing him. A relative unknown but someone in their mid-late 20s who’s got experience and enough quality to pressure Szczesny and keep him on his toes (and for me it’s no coincidence that Almunia’s best season ever came when he knew Jens was waiting for him to make mistakes), or, someone along the lines of Mart Poom who is mega-experienced and can act as something of a tutor as well as providing decent back-up if and when he’s required. There are far better things we could use €16m on, in my opinion.
Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey will miss the pre-season tour of Asia, and perhaps the game against Nigeria, as he’s been called into the Team GB squad for the London Olympics. Perhaps the competitive football will be good for him but it’s not ideal for the manager or his preparations for the new campaign. When you consider Jack Wilshere is going to miss the start of the new season, nobody has any clue about whether or not Abou Diaby will be available (although if I had to put money on it I know where it’d go), and Rosicky is carrying an Achilles problem since the end of last season and clearly aggravated it during the Euros it might leave us short of midfield options. And I’m banking on Mikel Arteta being fit after picking up a relatively serious injury at the end of last season.
I think it means we need to look very seriously at our midfield options for the upcoming season and if there’s strengthening to be done it’s one of those positions where you’d hope a signing would be made so that the new arrival can settle in during the preparations for it. As well as basic stuff like fitness it’s a chance for new players to form some kind of understanding with their new teammates, as well as get used to life at a new club or even in a new country.
As for the Olympics itself, it’s funny that Team ‘GB’ is made up entirely of English and Welsh men, no Scots, no Norn Ironers, and frankly, if I were Arsenal manager, I’d refuse to let any of my players take part. And not just because it’s Stuart Pearce that’s picking the team but because … ok then, it’s because Stuart Pearce is picking the team.
Finally for today, it looks as if Joel Campbell is going to spend next season on loan with Real Betis in La Liga. He had a decent enough spell with Lorient last season but the signings of Giroud and Podolski mean his development is probably better served playing more regular football than he would at Arsenal. Arsenal.com reporter Nick Ames did a very interesting series on Campbell and Lorient, and the general feeling was that Campbell was highly talented with lots of potential, but not ready yet to make the step up to the Arsenal first team. Betis will give him a chance to show his stuff and, also, for him to qualify for the work permit he needs to play in England.
Ok then, that’s your heatwave, not at all rainy load of rubbish summer round-up for today. Till tomorrow.