So, after weeks of vague transfer speculation about countless players – none of whom seem in any way close to signing for us – we got something a bit more substantial yesterday. I mentioned the reported £15m bid for Celtic’s Kieran Tierney in yesterday’s blog, but because of the source there was an element of dubiousness to it.
Scratch that when David Ornstein Tweeted about it to confirm the bid, the rejection of it, and the fact that Arsenal remained optimistic that a deal could be done with the Scottish champions.
As reported elsewhere Arsenal have had an opening bid of £15m for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney rejected – but there is optimism an agreement will be reached between the clubs, while personal terms for the 22-year-old Scotland international shouldn’t be a problem #AFC #CelticFC
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) June 22, 2019
Left back is definitely an area that could use some investment ahead of next season, and Tierney is a player who has been on the club’s radar for some time now. He was watched closely by Arsene Wenger and his scouting team as far back as 2016, and he was certainly a candidate when we were looking to replace Kieran Gibbs. That summer we were linked with all kinds of left backs including Ben Chilwell, Tierney, Douglas Santos, Raphael Guerreiro, and Ricardo Rodriguez.
We brought in Sead Kolasinac from Schalke on a free transfer, but clearly now we’re going to back our old list (this was even pre-Sven!) as we look to make our first signing of the summer. Will we have enough financial firepower to convince Celtic to sell? That remains to be seen. He’s a very good player, and very good players cost money.
I’ve seen some suggest the £15m bid was derisory, but when you consider the fact the record fee received by any SPL club was the £19.5m Celtic received from Lyon for Moussa Dembele, it’s not a bad opening gambit. The highest fee received from any Premier League club for an SPL player is again Celtic, taking £14m from Southampton for Virgil van Dijk, while the most expensive Scottish player is a trophy shared by Craig Gordon and Alan Hutton who cost Sunderland and Sp*rs £9m respectively.
I know the transfer market has changed considerably over the last couple of years, and prices have become hugely inflated, but I don’t think we’ve been disrespectful with that opening offer. You don’t go in high in any negotiation, and the fact that this has become public means it’s going to play out in the full glare of the media. If I were Celtic, that’s exactly what I would do – leak it to the press to put pressure on Arsenal.
The world and his mother knows we need players, that we have a restless fanbase who really want to see the recruitment team start to rebuild the squad, so anything that can squeeze every last penny out of a deal is worth trying. It’s now up to Raul Sanllehi and his people to make it happen, assuming we can reach a compromise with Celtic. Every player has his price, it’s just whether or not we can match what they want.
The other consideration here is that if we did sign him, we’d be overstocked with left backs, so you’d assume one of them would move on this summer. The obvious candidate is Nacho, he’s 33 (he’ll be 34 in February but until then he remains 33), and he’s had plenty of suitors in his home country so it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to find a new club if that’s the decision we made.
On the other hand, Kolasinac is 26, in the middle of a long-term contract, and although he hasn’t been brilliant for us, he made a decent contribution from an attacking point of view last season with seven or eight assists. In terms of the assets we have in the squad that we could potentially sell and who aren’t considered damaged goods in some way, he’s very near the top of the list. I don’t know exactly how much we could get for him, we’ve not been a great selling club it has to be said, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a fee that could substantially offset whatever we paid Celtic for Kieran Tierney.
Given that we signed him for free, it would mean we address a key issue in this summer’s squad rebuild at minimal cost, leaving more of that budget to spend on some of the other players we need to bring in. If the bean counters are going to have an impact on what we can do in the transfer market, then they’ve got to be at least considering this option. I think if you really needed to you could squeeze another year from Monreal as back-up, and also someone who can play in the centre of defence if required, so you then have another 12 months to identify his replacement ahead of next summer. It might not be the ideal football solution, but I don’t think we can ignore the financial circumstances and how it might impact our business.
Anyway, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Nothing’s done yet, but for the first time this off-season we have something to really get our teeth into from a transfer perspective so let’s see what happens. Beyond that not a lot else going on, so I’ll leave it there for this morning and we discuss on the Arsecast Extra tomorrow a bit too.
Have a good Sunday folks.