It begins (again!) + Arsecast 244

Good morning, here we are on the eve of a new season and I don’t know about you but I’m excited. Genuinely.

I watched some Sky Sports News last night and they showed Robin van Persie arriving in Manchester, getting out of a car and looking happy. I mean, I can deal with him going there, I can deal with the fact that he’s a big old jazz-handed Quisling, but looking happy? No, that will not stand. Anyway, he’s going to do his medical then he’s going to fraternise with people like Rooney, Evra, Ferdinand and that curly Brazilian fella who reminds me of a teddy bear that came to life, for some reason. At the very least I thought he’d be more inclined to keep better company than that.

Arsene revealed yesterday that he would have much rather have sold his former captain abroad than to United, giving PSG as a possible, but the simple fact is that Juventus apart, not one of Europe’s top clubs showed the slightest bit of interest in him. Not one. Even though they all knew he was available. Whether that says more about van Persie’s financial demands than anything else I’ll leave it to you to decide. The bottom line is the only choice was United, for him and for us, and as much as we’d prefer not to do business with them we had no choice.

Do we keep a disgruntled player and write off £24m, or do we let a club with financial issues spend somewhere in the region of £70m on him over the course of his contract and look to reinvest his transfer fee back into our team? As long as that reinvestment happens it’s a no-brainer for me. While Thomas Vermaelen pretended to be shocked, and was probably a bit disappointed, Andre Santos summed it up:

Van Persie is a high quality player, a big idol of the fans and he had a great championship season in 2011/12, but I’m sure the team is much more mature. Today we have experienced players and also the arrival of some new players, like Santi Cazorla and Podolski, who are excellent. We are well focused. We’ve brought in some top quality players and I’m sure that Arsenal will have a great campaign in the English league.

I love that cuddly maverick. Anyway, we will move on without van Persie, as we always do when a player leaves. And it does look as if there’ll be another departure sooner rather than later as the talk is Alex Song to Barcelona is as good as done. The Catalan papers are talking numbers this morning. Barcelona don’t want to pay what Arsenal are asking – deja vu, anyone? – and the key to the deal could be the add-on clauses/appearance fees and such. Amusingly, El Mundo complain about how Arsenal are being difficult to deal with, ‘as usual’.

I’ll refrain from making further comment on this until it happens but there’s an element of ruthlessness here from the manager. If we sell it’s because he wants to, and if we sell it’s to refocus our efforts on the group rather than one or two individuals who think they’re more important than the team. Despite the fact that Nuri Sahin appeared to be on the brink of a loan move to Liverpool, the talk is that we’ve upped the ante a bit and he could opt for us instead. Champions League football might well be the key but as I’ve suggested all along the key to it happening in Song’s departure.

Whether that will affect our negotiations with Barcelona remains to be seen. If the decision to let him go has been made then it’s a matter of finding a suitable compromise in terms of the fee, perhaps we might get a million pounds every time he debuts another silly haircut, and if Sahin is a player the manager wants then there’s an element of needing to get things done quickly to avoid him going somewhere else.

Arsene’s very first press conference of the new season takes place this morning and no doubt Song’s future will be on the agenda, along with everything that’s happened with Robin van Persie. Of more importance, however, are the players who are with us now and for the season ahead and some updates regarding those carrying injuries will be more welcome than Arsene batting away questions and refusing to criticise players who have, essentially, let him down.

There are serious doubts over Laurent Koscielny (calf) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who picked up an ankle knock during the FC Koln game. The participation of new boys Cazorla and Giroud is an issue too. The former flew to Puerto Rico this week with Spain and we all ll know of Arsene’s reluctance to use players after transatlantic flights. The latter was described by the manager as ‘tired’ as he did midweek commentary for French TV, so I wonder if he’ll be fit to start.

Lukas Podolski was, kindly, left out of the Germany squad by Joachim Low and of the three summer signings I’d suggest he’s most likely to start tomorrow against Sunderland. The captaincy is likely an issue too, but it’s hard to see it going to anyone other than Thomas Vermaelen, I’d expect confirmation of that today too. Anyway, some, if not all, will be revealed when the boss meets the press this morning and you can keep up to date with the latest throughout the day over on Arseblog News.

Meanwhile, Kyle Bartley has left the club joining Swansea City in a deal worth around £1m. Although he was promoted to the first team squad earlier in the summer he always had a lot to do to force his way into the established ‘top four’, and I think Arsene prefers the young Spaniard Ignasi Miquel who can play at left back as well as centre-half. Good luck to him.

Right then, as it’s a new season it means the Arsecast returns from its summer hiatus and joining me this week to discuss van Persie, the summer signings and more, is Amy Lawrence. You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (29mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.


And that’s about that for now. As I said we’ll have news throughout the day and the traditional season preview post will be up here at around lunchtime. Here we go again folks!


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