Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Saturday waffle: It’s quiet from within + Bellerin linked to Atletico Madrid

Morning all, a very quick Saturday round-up for you, because I hurt.

I went for a run on Thursday, which is all kinds of bad, but then followed that up with 5-a-side last night in blinding sun. Some small advice for men of a particular age: allow your decrepit body some time to recover from the first terrible thing you put it through before you try and do something fun.

I have never been beaten to within an inch of life with iron bars and socks filled with golf balls in them, but – right now – I have a strong suspicion I know what it feels like.

There isn’t much going on to be honest. It feels like everyone is taking a beat after the end of the season, and next week, with the transfer window opening and the Euros starting, it should pick up. Here’s one thing I do know though: it is very, very quiet from within Arsenal. Whatever stories are making the papers, they’re coming from elsewhere. There’s a kind of radio silence from club sources which might well be because there’s literally nothing going on, but also because we are playing our cards very, very close to our chest.

If it’s more the latter than the former, I’m ok with that. I genuinely don’t know what we’re going to do this summer, but we all know there’s a lot to attempt. So much of the transfer game is played out publicly, players, agents, friends, have social media and stuff leaks. There’s also the fact stuff is deliberately put out there to play the transfer game. An agent, for example, who will plant a story about a club being interested in his player when that’s not really the case, but it generates some profile for his client. There is literally no better club or fanbase to generate that with than Arsenal right now.

For now, there’s very, very little coming from within, and I expect that to be the case throughout the transfer window. If you’ve seen Mikel Arteta get asked a question about a player or a transfer in a press conference, you’ll know he is not going to say anything. It’s like Arsene Wenger used to be, but if someone sewed his mouth shut.

Hector Bellerin’s links to Atletico Madrid are coming from the Spanish press. He had initially been touted for a move to Real Betis, but I just don’t think they could afford him. Kieran Trippier is being talked about a possible candidate for Man Utd, so Diego Simeone is, reportedly, in the market for a right-back.

When we think about departures, Hector is one of the ones near the top of the list. I think it’s time, but I don’t enjoy the disdain from certain sections of the fanbase towards him. It’s true he hasn’t developed into the player we thought he was going to be after an exciting start to his career (remember this?!), but he’s suffered with serious injury after playing a lot of football for us at a very early age. It’s hard not to draw some lines between those two things, and it’s always struck me that football fans in general don’t have anywhere near as much patience for injuries as they should.

Yes, it is frustrating when a player is missing, especially a good one, and there comes a point where you have to make decisions because fitness and durability are very important in the modern game. However, is there an industry in the world where workplace ‘accidents’ are viewed in the same way, where the victim is somehow to blame?

‘Trev can’t come to work today, a forklift fell on him and he’s paralysed from the nipples down.

‘Feckin’ Trev, always slacking.’

Anyway, injuries have clearly played a part in Hector’s decline, but he’s as much an Arsenal man as anyone we have. He’s been here since he was 16, he understands the club, and even when there were discussions last year involving all the Premier League captains about wage cuts and initiatives to fund the NHS, he was our representative – not the actual captain.

As for whether Atletico Madrid is the right move, it’ll all come out in the wash, but wherever he goes this summer, he deserves a proper send-off from the fans and, in particular, from the club. The glorification of David Luiz was a bit embarrassing, not least because he’d barely been here a wet weekend. Of course it was because his future had been decided and there’s nothing iron-clad about Hector or any other potential departures, but I hope if he does go, it’s marked properly, the way it should be.

Right, enough of my nonsense for this morning. I’m going to talk two big dogs to the Phoenix Park and see if I can walk off all the aches and pains. Have a great Saturday, mind yourselves, and I’ll be back tomorrow.

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