Thankfully the rains have stopped. Yesterday it rained for 50 hours in total, but these rains were not down in Africa so I did not bless them. Forget a hundred, there was nothing that a hundred and twenty-eight men or more could ever do.
Rain is magic in Ireland. Not only does it help crops grow and for the country to remain green, it also grows cars. A 20 minute journey to 5-a-side last night took over an hour because of the Rainmobiles, and then I sprained my ankle so I had to go in goal until the end. So, if the government are listening – we’ve had enough rain now, make it stop or else.
Rounding up the news from yesterday’s press conference, the manager spoke about a couple of players that he wants to keep at the club this summer. First up, Theo Walcott, the freshest man since Minty O’Toole heisted a truck full of Listerine. There’s obviously an issue with his contract, but Arsene suggested that there’s a fatalistic outlook when it comes to these kind of problems, with the focus on the negative aspect of it. He says:
The press is always focusing on what you do in case of failure. We are always in the mode where we want to be successful. In case of failure, we’ll see but in case of failure – that will only be in December next year.
The suggestion there, of course, is that when he gets to a point where he’s got 6 months left on his contract, he’ll be able to sign for any other European club and, realistically, make arrangements with other Premier League clubs (albeit not officially). That’s the position we found ourselves in last time with him, and in the end he signed a new £100,000 a week deal.
Are we willing to do that again? It’s quite possible as we’re much better positioned to take the financial hit if he does decide to go elsewhere. It also wouldn’t stain our reputation as much if it happened now, whereas back then it would really have been damaging for the image of the club. The manager continued:
When you go into negotiations with a player it is with a desire for him to stay. He looks keen to do it and I am keen to do it, so let’s see what comes out.
I don’t doubt him here, but it’s the terms of the agreement that will be key. We’ll be prepared to offer him X, he might want Y. Indeed, we might want to keep him, but Walcott might feel that with the amount of playing time he’s getting (scientists have worked it out be the square root of fuck all right now), he’d be better off elsewhere.
Ultimately, there’s little else Wenger can say here. If he even hints at a problem, or a willingness to let him leave, then this summer turns into a Walcottian Transfer Saga which, using methods we have often exploited ourselves, would probably run right until deadline day. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
My gut feeling is that if no agreement can be found, then we’ll do what we’ve done with other players and cash in because it’s what makes the most sense. Especially if we can use that cash to fund a replacement. It’s the circle of (football) life.
Meanwhile, there were questions about the future of Carl Jenkinson too, and again the manager says he’s a player he wants to keep:
We will sit down together at the end of the season, but my target is to keep him here at the club. he decision I have to make is do I bring him back now or does he need one more year now to play in the Premier League. It is not decided yet.
When you look at all the players we have out on loan, Jenkison stands apart as one who has actually enhanced his reputation. While others have struggled, or barely played at their temporary clubs, he’s played consistently well for West Ham, and under normal circumstances he’d come back to scrap it out with Mathieu Debuchy.
However, the emergence of Hector Bellerin has complicated that, and it’s impossible to look at the progress of the young Spaniard and not be excited. Is there any point in bringing back Jenkinson to be third choice right-back? It certainly wouldn’t do his development as a player any good, but Debuchy will be 31 at the start of the 2016-17 season, so there might be room there to bring him back if it’s all going well.
Again though, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was a summer sale, but I think the manager is genuinely keen to keep the door open for him a bit. We’re now in a situation where the player who is ostensibly first choice right-back, Debuchy, shouldn’t come straight back into the side when he’s fit again. Bellerin is playing so well that he merits his place in the team and, like others who have found themselves sidelined due to the form of others, the Frenchman should be made wait for his opportunity again.
In that kind of an environment, there’s no place for Jenkinson just yet, but if Wenger is prepared to play the long game with him, maybe his Arsenal career isn’t done and dusted just yet.
Finally for today, some weekend listening for you in the Arsecast with Amy Lawrence. You can win signed copies of her book Invincible, and hear the official Arseblog FA Cup final song – so check it out.
Right, I’m off to enjoy the not-rain for a few minutes until some rain comes again. Have a good Saturday, more tomorrow.
For now, enjoy this great cover by Louis CK and Kevin Nealon.