It says something that so far the major player in Arsenal’s transfer summer seems to be Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas. We’ve heard more from him about our potential sales and recruits than anyone else, especially when it comes to Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud.
To be fair, it’s because Arsenal are usually tight-lipped over anything to do with transfers in or out, and this bloke has a keen interest in getting as much money as he can for Lacazette. The idea of using Giroud as a make-weight in the deal appears to be over though.
They’ve signed Bertrand Traore from Chelsea and appear to be on the verge of signing a striker from Real Madrid B or something, and thus no longer require the services of the HFB. Asked about Giroud at the presentation of Traore, Aulas said:
We don’t want to stockpile forwards. Arsenal want to keep him.
Are the two things connected? Maybe it has more to do with Arsenal wanting to keep him. Or Arsenal wanting to get more for him than Lyon might be prepared to offer. There’s a lot of talk about West Ham breaking the bank for Giroud, and when it comes right down to it, selling him to a cash rich Premier League club might well be the better option for us from a financial point of view.
Aulas has basically confirmed his willingness to let Lacazette leave, so I guess the ball is very much in our court. Assuming he doesn’t keep knocking it back and insisting we return a more expensive ball. You know what we’re like when that happens.
Beyond that, there appears to be very little chatter about players incoming, beyond whispers that Thomas Lemar from Monaco is very much on our list. He had such an impressive season but was kind of eclipsed – in headline terms anyway – by Kylian Mbappe. WhoScored tells me he had 14 goals and 14 assists from midfield, and at 21 those are very good numbers. Whether he’s a player designed to augment what we have or replace somebody who is leaving remains to be seen, of course.
There are still so many things for us to sort out in that regard. Our approach may well be different depending on who the player is, but we have to make decisions one way or the other on Alexis, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny.
From what I understand Gibbs and Wilshere are quite willing to stay another year before leaving on free transfers, and unless the club consider them fundamental to our future – which I don’t think they do – then they should be working to move them on asap.
Alexis and Ozil we know all about, Szczesny and Juventus seems inevitable (sadly), and there are more stories this morning about a £25m approach from Liverpool for Oxlade-Chamberlain. As long as there’s nothing signed, his future is one that will remain up in the air.
As the Arsene Wenger contract situation was allowed to drag on and on and on throughout last season, people got upset at how it impacted us on the pitch, and thus our final league position. Although we got 75 points, the highest ever not to finish in the top four, it’s impossible to look beyond how the constant and relentless focus on his intentions had an effect on us during that dreadful spell between the end of January and the end of April.
We can see the consequences of it as we get ready for Europa League football next season, but it also had an effect on our ability to secure the futures of key players. Now, it’s fair to point out that someone heading into the final 12 months of their deal has a great negotiating position, a much stronger hand to deal with their current club for reasons that are obvious. Thus they’re not always inclined to negotiate.
However, it’s also basically impossible for a football club to even make a genuine attempt to convince a player to stay when there’s so much uncertainty over who will be the manager for the upcoming campaign. Whether they simply didn’t know themselves, or weren’t prepared to say is irrelevant at this point, and there’s no question in my mind it has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in now.
It has considerably added to the workload this summer, and it is possible for them to salvage things by tying important players down to new deals, and moving on those who we deem surplus to requirements for fees that reflect their talent and ability in this current market. But if they can’t, and we see tens of millions of pounds worth of talent leave for free next summer, or we’re forced into cut price sales now, then they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.
Let’s see what they can do. Hopefully Arsenal are like a duck. On the surface calmly crossing the lake of the off-season, but beneath it those little legs are going like crazy. Ivan Gazidis, Arsene Wenger, and Duck Law have got a lot to get on top of.
Right, that’s that. If you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, there’s a lot of Lacazette chat in this week’s Arsecast Extra, a whole pile of questions about transfers and what else we might be up to this summer, and a load of the usual nonsense too. Check it out below, more from me tomorrow.