Monday, November 28, 2022

Saturday round-up: Ben White, Manuel Locatelli, and Brazilian cocktails

Gimme a minute, I had some Caipirinhas last night.

Brazil has given us many wonderful things, such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldininininho, Gilberto Silva, and Andre Santos, but the humble Caipirinha is truly its most wonderful export.

It’s hot here in Ireland. Right now, it’s just after 8.30am and it’s 21C. It puts me in mind of when I started Arseblog when I lived in Barcelona. I would get up, it would be wonderfully warm, and I could sit down at my Mac in shorts and a t-shirt and just write some stuff. Here we are nearly 20 years later and I’m doing exactly that (although the €3 Caipirinhas and Mojitos at Princessa 23 played their part back then – if you know, you know).

Anyway, let’s get on with it, and it looks as if the Ben White deal is set to go through soon, with David Ornstein reporting agreement between Arsenal and Brighton.

My understanding of this situation is that this is just the last thing that needed to be sorted out. It’s all been done and dusted between the club and the player for some time, and it was just about agreeing a fee with Brighton.

This one is the most interesting signing of the summer so far, because as much as Nuno Tavares and the still-to-be-announced Albert Sambi Lokonga are young players with potential, I don’t think either are being signed to boost the first team. They are squad options right now, players to give us some depth. Kieran Tierney, if fit, plays all of our important games at left back; Lokonga helps us replace Ceballos/Torreira/Guendouzi; and there’s still the need for the elusive Partey Partner to arrive.

Ben White, on the other hand, is an immediate first team pick. £50m central defenders at a club like Arsenal aren’t brought in to compete with what you have, they’re being bought to add something you think is missing from your defence. So, unless something crazy happens in the next few days, it looks certain Ben White will become an Arsenal player and our most expensive defensive signing ever (take that Mustafi!).

Elsewhere, there are reports that our bid for Manuel Locatelli is far superior to that of Juventus. We’re offering more money right now, they want to loan him for a season with an obligation to pay at the end of it, but Sassuolo have said no thanks. Whether that’s encouraging for us, it’s hard to say. Obviously the Italian club would prefer a deal which gives them more money and gives it to them now, but ultimately much depends on the player and what he wants.

I have a friend who works for Juventus as part of their security team, but that aside I’d happily see the entire club demolished and its ashes scattered into the sea off the boot of Italy itself (no forgiveness for Liam Brady, even after many years). However, I can understand why Locatelli might prefer a move there than this current iteration of Arsenal. We can’t sell him on the idea that he could come and win the Premier League or the Champions League; we have to convince him to be part of a rebuild that might – if it goes well – put us in a position where can start thinking about those things.

That’s a tough sell for anyone, and when you read that Edu is the man trying to convince him with a ‘speech’, it’s difficult to feel confident.

“Come join Arsenal. I’ll be your friend. Come on. You can have dinner with me, and my friends Kia and Raul on a fancy boat. By the way, your agent, do you like him? You should talk to Kia, he’s great.”

Look, I would really like it if Arsenal signed Manuel Locatelli with his gorgeous hair, but I just don’t see it. If it happens, I will eat an entire humble pie on the podcast, but even though Juventus’ offer is inferior, I don’t think we can feel confident about our chances of making this one happen.

That feels like a bit of a down note to leave today’s post on, so let’s have some good news to finish with.

I still have half a bottle of Cachaça left and loads of limes, so I see Caipirinhas in my not too distant future, perhaps to accompany some stuff that will get cooked on the Weber grill in a sweltering back garden.

Arsenal play Rangers today at 2pm in another pre-season friendly. I’ll watch that and report back here tomorrow. Until then, enjoy your Saturday.

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