With five incoming signings made – and perhaps more before the end of the window (my kingdom for a right-back etc etc), it seems there may be a few things stirring in terms of departures.
As yet nothing is done and dusted, but here’s the latest.
A flurry of reports emerged last night which said Corinthians have made an approach to sign him on a free transfer. Arsenal, it appears, would be willing to facilitate this in order to get him off the books, but I think the word ‘free’ is probably only applicable to the Brazilian side.
I suspect that, with two years left on his contract, the club will have to heavily incentivise his departure, i.e – pay him most of what he’s owed. Which, if you were a cynical person, is exactly what you’d expect to happen when the agent of the player does a deal with his mate who is the Technical Director of a football club and they give a three year contract to a 32 year old player.
I think you could have made the argument – and many did – that a Premier League experienced player could help you in the short-term, but never over that period of time. In the end though, we signed a player who was a busted flush. A player whose peak in an Arsenal shirt came on the opening day of last season, and who never looked like he really wanted to be here.
He was bad, he didn’t apply himself properly on the pitch, he ambled about the pitch like a bloke who knew he’d just secured a nice comfortable retirement, staying in London so his life didn’t have to change, just his shirt colour. And as the weekend showed, with his liking of Chelsea social media posts about their win at the Emirates, you can’t shake off 7 years with a rival and give your best to another club.
Nobody escapes criticism over this one. It was a deal pushed by Raul and Edu which was much better for their friend Kia Joorabchian and his client more than Arsenal (I’m sure they raised a glass on the yacht this summer); Mikel Arteta went along with it, and continued to play Willian when there was no sporting merit to his inclusion at all; and it reflects poorly on the ownership whose lack of oversight allowed this kind of deal to happen in the first place. There should have been someone who was able to say ‘Are you mental? This is crazy, we won’t sanction a three year deal for this player.’
I think it’s too simplistic to say the Willian deal has brought about a change in the way we’ve done business this summer, but it stands as a low point in our transfer history, a perfect example of what not to do ever again. I hope this goes through, I will await his inevitable bitchy interview about his time here, and then I will consign him the dustbin of Arsenal history, which is exactly where he belongs.
The Uruguayan returned to London last week after an extended summer break which saw him play a lot of basketball and visit theme parks and fairgrounds. It was all a bit odd, but I am reliably informed this was with the blessing of the club.
He’s been through a lot this year, losing his mother to Covid-19, which sparked some comments about wanting to play for Boca Juniors so he could be closer to his family. That always seemed unlikely, but a return to Italy where he felt more at home than in England appeared to be the most likely compromise.
And so it goes: having been linked with Lazio, Roma, and Inter Milan, it seems like he’s going to join Fiorentina on loan for the season. I don’t know if there’s any option or obligation to buy at this point, but for now I don’t think it matters too much. I’ve seen people suggest we should keep him, he’s more useful than some players we have in the squad, and I don’t necessarily disagree.
However, I just don’t think he wants to be here. His agent saying he wanted to stay was very much agent talk. It’s been clear for some time he’s not settled in England, and has wanted to leave. He went to Atletico Madrid last season and for a player who looked perfect for Diego Simeone, barely played. If Arsenal haven’t counted on him it’s because they know he wants to go.
His career has become stuck in a kind of rut over the last couple of years, and I hope he can find his spark again in Italy. Sometimes a transfer works, sometimes it doesn’t, this one didn’t, and while there’s a lot to criticise the club for right now, I think this is as much on the player and his desire to leave as anything else.
David Ornstein reported that Crystal Palace offered £10m for him, but we’re holding out for £20m. Obviously, as with any deal, there’s some room for negotiation, but at some point we have to take what we can get for players who don’t really have any future with us. Eddie has less than 12 months left on his current deal, would we not be better to get £10m now (or maybe a little more), than nothing next June or something far less in January?
We don’t hold a strong position on this one. Palace, or any other interested club know this, and while we might value him more highly, in the end he’s only worth as much as someone else offers.
Weekend rumours of a move to Fenerbahce were offset somewhat by his inclusion in the squad for the Chelsea game. Another one who just needs to leave, but it remains to be seen if we’re going to facilitate that the way we did with Ozil, Mustafi and Sokratis by literally paying him to go away.
There are other names, players whose futures remain in doubt, such as Reiss Nelson, Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny, one or more of our seventy-trillion right-backs, but there doesn’t appear to be much stirring. The window closes this day week, so let’s see what happens.
Right, I’ll leave it there for now, let’s see what happens for tomorrow when, of course, we have a League Cup game to contend with.