It’s midweek and if there were such things as online tumbleweeds they’d be blowing through the virtual Arsenal landscape right now.
With pre-season for the non-Euro players still a half a week away (they’re probably getting down in discotheques across the exclusive holiday resorts right now. Can’t you see Gervinho with a glow stick and a whistle?), and the rest set to trickle back as they have their extended breaks, it’ll probably be some time before the gears really start to move and the summer business begins.
We are, somewhat unusually, ahead of the game a bit, it has to be said. Normally we make one early transfer then sit back and wait for Arsene to tell us how we’re not close to signing anyone but when we are we’ll be the first to know. Yet he never calls me up to tell me ahead of anyone, the big spoofer. This time around however, we’ve bought two players. Podolski and Giroud are Gunners, the big issue from last season was not having enough firepower, nobody to cover for Robin, and that’s already been taken care of to a great extent.
That doesn’t mean that the big issue this summer isn’t Robin, and with his contract and future still to be sorted Arsene Wenger has made his desire clear in a blog for Eurosport. He said:
We want to keep Robin van Persie at all costs, because we depend on him offensively. I’ve always supported him even in the hardest times, and I hope he will end his career at Arsenal.
Can’t be much clearer than that. Obviously the signings mentioned previously will lower our dependence on him, which is a good thing, but there’s also an emotional angle there too. Robin’s injury record is no 7″ single, it’s a two hour double LP with a bonus, limited edition 10″ picture disc, and throughout those injuries the club have supported him. That doesn’t make him unique, obviously, we do that for every player (look at Abou Diaby or Tomas Rosicky, for example), but perhaps the manager is keen to remind Robin that his elevation to one of the best strikers in the world took a lot longer than it should have and was built on Arsene’s patience and faith in him.
It’s probably unrealistic in the modern world of football to expect that to have any impact on things though. When you have agents and advisers in your ear, telling you how you have to think of yourself, how you’ve given so much to a team, a club, a manager, and nobody could deny you the chance to earn big/win things, it’s easy to be swayed. Robin strikes me as a player who is quite capable of making his own decisions but the influence of these people can’t underestimated. Remember, you can’t spell the word ‘agent’ without ‘cunt’.
However, it’s interesting that Arsene has gone public, batting the ball right into the van Persie court now that the Euros are over. There are those who will find obvious parallels between what he’s saying now and what he said last summer with Cesc and Nasri, but I think the situation this time is markedly different. Regardless of what spin is put on things, everyone knew Cesc was off last summer, it was just a case of when and for how much. And Nasri, well, despite his very close friendship with van Persie (perhaps a cause for concern as to his decision this summer), has proven himself to be a thoroughly horrendous person whose lack of character far outweighs his footballing talent.
There’s something more to Robin van Persie. He gets it at Arsenal, at least we like to think so, and that’s why his departure would sting, especially when the Middle Eastlands is mooted as his destination. Emotional investment in footballers is a dangerous thing, you’re nearly always likely to end up disappointed and dismayed, but football is an emotional game and that’s the long and the short of it. Anyway, as we keep saying, time will tell but it’s now spiraling into a ‘thing’ now that the Euros are now longer around to distract us.
Meanwhile, Arsene spoke some more about Olivier Giroud and what the new boy can bring to the side next season:
The first time I saw him, I found he had something intelligent and dangerous. I always said he could score goals and assist his partners.
Our game is based on cooperation between the players in the offensive phase and he’ll integrate easily. I don’t like simple goalscorers, they must also add to the collective. He is good in the air which is rare. He’s quite complete and has a great room for improvement.
By which I’m sure he means he’s got the lot in terms of his skill-set but can improve as a player. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing him in an Arsenal shirt next season, there just seems to be something about him that’s been missing from previous Ligue 1 strikers we’ve brought in. His physical presence is interesting too. I don’t see us going long ball or anything but it does provide another option. I guess Arsene is looking at him to do what he wanted Bendtner to do in this squad but without the misplaced belief that he is TGSTEL.
That said, at the time I thought Chamakh was a smart signing, and the first few months of his Arsenal career seemed to suggest the manager had brought in a limited but willing player who could add something to squad, and look how that turned out. Judgement on the new boy will wait until he’s settled in and played more than two or three games, but because his hair is about infinity better than Chamakh’s he’s already got a bit more wiggle room in my book.
Elsewhere, as expected, the Lyon president says there has been no Arsenal bid for Hugo Lloris and he’s looking for around £16m for him before he’ll consider a sale. There are exactly two chances of us spending £16m in a goalkeeper and slim has just left town.
Finally, this is worth a read regarding UEFA and the way they manipulated TV coverage during the Euros. I know not many people hold them in great esteem but they really are a rotten, despicable bunch, from the way they deal with disciplinary matters to things like this. And how ironic that an organisation that so vehemently opposes video technology uses it to trick fans and viewers. Platini out.