Friday, September 30, 2022

Hakuna Mata-ta!

Hello and welcome to a brand new week, one which has the potential to be quite busy indeed.

Over the weekend I have come to accept that the fact that Ricky Alvarez is indeed a genuine target for us. Despite the fact I can’t get my head around it from a footballing point of view, people I trust have assured me this isn’t some bizarre Candid Camera style joke. So I’ll wait and see what happens, then wait and see what the guy is like when he plays, and then I’ll be in a better position to talk about his talents.

So far the summer’s transfer targets have left me a bit ‘meh’, all the usual suspects being linked with us day after day, I haven’t been particularly excited by any of them. The man with the largest forehead in football, a lad who has barely played 50 professional games, the Oxencart-Chamberpot kid, and then the almost daily stories about Cahill and Samba (who have become one to me now, a gigantic lumbering beast known only as Sahill, or Camba), none of them get your blood stirring in any way.

This morning, however, we get our first little bit of excitement as both the Mail and The Sun link us with Valencia’s Juan Mata. The Mail says we’ve spoken to his agent (like Nicky B, he’s got his dad on the case), while The Sun says the two clubs have spoken about a possible transfer. An £18m fee is mentioned and I think it would be a fantastic piece of business if we could pull it off.

He’s a really exciting player, he scores and makes goals, and if this is calibre of player we’re looking to bring in then I’m beginning to feel a bit more reassured about next season. The obvious conclusion to draw from a bid for Mata is that he would be a creative replacement for Cesc but with Nasri’s future still up in the air it could well be a factor in this too.

I’ve had a look around the Spanish papers this morning and so far there’s no mention of this at all. I imagine when the stories appear it’ll be ‘according to El Sun’ etc, but it’ll be interesting to see what they make of it all the same. It’s also interesting that as much as the defensive side of our squad needs to be reinforced, the focus seems to be on improving us as an attacking side.

Whether that’s because the manager feels we’d be better defensively if we were more potent as an attacking force, I don’t know, but as I mentioned yesterday, as easy as it is to blame the defence for errors which cost us points, it’s as easy to forget the missed chances and the pedestrian approach play which also contributed to our end of season collapse. I have no doubt we’ll sign defenders, but clearly the manager wants to freshen things up in the final third of the pitch too.

One thing to consider as we wait for the players to come in, is that if we announce a number of new players it does have an impact on possible sales. We know the squad is limited to 25 players + those who are under a certain age, but announcing a whole raft of new players puts us in a weaker negotiating position for players going out. If clubs know we really, really need to sell to make space in the squad they can offer far less than we’d like.

On the other hand, with a sizable list of players who are likely to depart, and as yet no real offers – not publicly anyway – perhaps we might just have to take less than we like for some of them. I’m aware of one bid but whether or not that has been deemed acceptable to either the club or the player I can’t say. Anyway, it’s just something to think about as the transfer business starts to pick up the pace this week.

Pre-season begins next week, the players will return on the 5th for training, and then there’s the Asian tour. I doubt we’ll have all of our business done by that stage but I would hope that at least one or two deals, for players coming in and going out, will be completed, and the work we need to do ahead of the upcoming season gets underway.

Meanwhile, in Catalunya, the press are ramping up the Cesc stuff. As he arrived in Barcelona Sport say: “Arsenal know they must accept the departure of their captain”, while other reports say he could refuse to return for pre-season training in order to force a move. Personally, I can’t see it happening. He has too much respect for the Arsenal to do that, but if there’s real truth to the Mata stories, and if reports of an imminent improved bid for Barcelona are real, then it could be a busy week.

Also, maybe it’s just me, but I find when people say I ‘must’ do something that I don’t particularly want to do, it leaves me even more unwilling to do it. I know it’s just journalistic nonsense but still. If there’s a boardroom equivalent of sticking an article up in the dressing room then this is it.

CUoCo, that’s what it is, they know it, Arsenal know it, Cesc knows it. And until they CU they can CO.

Alex Song has been fined by the Cameroonian FA because he doesn’t like Samuel Eto’o, and ordered to carry out three days training with young players. Can they really do that? I get that they can fine a player but they can hardly sentence you to community service, can they? Seems weird to me and with the ACN coming up this winter one can only hope that Song remains at loggerheads with his national side and stays at Arsenal for the duration.

So, there you go, a reasonably busy and almost exciting start to the new week. Let’s hope it continues like this. More tomorrow and breaking news throughout the day (and every day), on Arseblog News.

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