And it’s straight down to business this morning and the signing of Olivier Giroud is official. Arsenal announced the deal yesterday and Arsene Wenger said:
We are delighted to have secured the signing of Olivier Giroud. He has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic. We are excited about Olivier joining us and he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season.
While the player himself seemed genuinely delighted to have made the move to our club, and spoke about what it was that attracted him to us:
It’s the philosophy of how they play. It’s the way Arsene Wenger brings the ‘touch’ to the team. It’s also the spirit of this mythical club … ‘The Gunners’. I’ve always admired that and admire what they’ve accomplished.
I hope to become part of the history and to do some big things with this team and this club.
He spoke about his friendship with Laurent Koscielny and how that was a factor, and in general he said all the right things. Which, in fairness, is exactly what all new signings do. The proof of the pudding will be in how he performs and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be a little bit cautious about him. The last two strikers we signed from Ligue 1 haven’t really worked out for us, and while it’s not a hard and fast rule that any such signing would struggle similarly, he’s going to find life in English football much more difficult.
It’s up to him to adapt and respond to that challenge and despite his very recent rise to the top echelons of the game he needs only look to his friend Koscielny to see how it can be done. At 6’3 he adds some real physical presence to the side. He looks strong, not scrawny, and is probably better suited physically to England than Chamakh, but he’s got it all to prove on the pitch. Apparently he’ll wear number 12.
However, on paper it’s a very good signing. We spoke all last season about having alternatives for Robin van Persie, someone to share the burden and responsibility of goalscoring. It was obvious that the skipper struggled a bit because of the amount of games he was playing and Giroud now provides that alternative option. When added to the signing of Lukas Podolski it’s a very good start to our summer business. There’s still things we need to deal with but we’ve gone about things well thus far.
Naturally, this being modern football life there can be no silver lining without somebody trying to find a cloud, and I guess it’s normal to speculate on what this might mean in relation to the van Persie situation. In equal measure you could say the signings of Podolski and Giroud are a sign that we’re serious about competing next year, adding depth and quality to the team, while on the other hand you might suggest that signing two left footed forwards is sensible and early preparation for Robin’s departure.
The truth is none of us know at this stage. I would hope that it’s the former, of course, and that such intent in the transfer market is what a player who badly desires trophies needs to see to convince him he can win them at Arsenal. I’m not suggesting our transfer business should be conducted just to keep van Persie happy, to do so for any single player would place them on a pedestal they’re nowhere near worthy of, but seeing quality players come in might be the difference.
If the decision has already been made and it’s one which will dismay us (at the moment I can only see one suitor for him, we all know who it is and how it would go down if it happened), then at least we’ve learned lessons from last summer and have moved quickly to ensure early integration of new players and to avoid the disruption of another tedious saga. As I said though, none of us, bar Robin, Arsene Wenger and a few others, have any real idea what’s going to happen. The signings might be to convince him to stay, or their timing could soften the blow if he goes.
My glass fluctuates between hall full and half empty with regard to this one but I just have a small feeling that the early business is borne out of common sense rather than being anything demonstrative. Anyway, que sera sera and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. The only thing I’d say is that in order to avoid the nonsense I just mentioned regarding last summer, we need to get to the bridge sooner rather than later. He’s the captain of the club and whatever decision he makes should be made with that in mind. We need clarity ahead of a new season and it’s incumbent on van Persie not to create any unnecessary disorder.
In other news the ‘clearing of the decks’ continues. After TGSTEL’s people said every club in every galaxy in every universe is interested in their man, it looks like Arsenal are letting all and sundry know who’s available (if it wasn’t obvious enough already). Sebastian Squillaci moves closer and closer to a move to newly promoted Ligue 1 side Bastia (which is where we got Alex Song from, I think). Arsenal are, according to reports, willing to let him go on a free transfer which will allow Bastia to pay him a wage they couldn’t afford if they had to pay a fee. A sign that we’re prepared to cut our losses on some players in order to streamline the squad.
Elsewhere, Galatasaray are showing interest in Andrei Arshavin, offering a net €6m over the course of a two year contract. While I fully expect him to be sold this summer, I’d be very surprised if he were to move there. When he went to Zenit on loan his family stayed behind in London and I suspect Mrs Owl will have to be persuaded to swap London for Istanbul. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were a Premier League team ready to take a punt on him.
Right, that’s yer lot. Let’s enjoy the new signing, he’s quite dreamy too, and I’ll be back tomorrow with more.