Monday, May 16, 2022

Arteta looking for some Denver nuggets from Stan?

It was interesting to note that after the Burnley game, Mikel Arteta flew to the US, and was in attendance at a Colorado Avalanche game. He was pictured in an executive box with Stan Kroenke, and you have to imagine that Josh wasn’t far away. If not there on the night, then certainly around for whatever kind of meeting they were planning to have.

With a trip to Dubai coming up this week, I can’t imagine the manager hopped on a transatlantic flight just to watch an ice-hockey game. Was this a pre-planned get together, or something a bit more ad-hoc to work out what’s what at the end of this transfer window?

The frustration of the 0-0 against Burnley was so acute because we know that there is an opportunity for Arsenal this season. We’re probably a bit ahead of where we expected, and if we can push in the second half of the season, then we can – at least – stay in the fight for a top four place. However, everyone knows we need a bit extra to do that, and the only way we’re going to get it is via the transfer market.

Does Stan need to be convinced to make more funds available? Is that why this is an in-person meeting rather than something virtual or on the famed WhatsApp group? If he does, I don’t suppose that’s too unreasonable really. The owners sanctioned big spending last summer (almost £150m), on top of the substantial outlay the summer before when we paid Thomas Partey’s £50m release clause in full, spent nearly £30m on Gabriel, and set fire to a load of money in the shape of Willian. That’s a lot of spending (and there’s a wider discussion to be had about how those deals have been funded and what the debt currently resting on Arsenal is), so if there’s some convincing to do to spend again, I can kinda understand it.

There’s some suggestion that the future of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is up for discussion, and early reports say he’s not going to be involved in the warm weather training trip. As I said on the Arsecast Extra on Monday, this was the line for me. If he was out for that, that’s probably it in terms of his Arsenal career, and it looks like that’s where we are.

Whatever the truth of this matter, I am certain that there is a lot more to this situation than him being just a bit late back from France. You don’t strip someone of the captaincy and exclude them from your squad on an ongoing basis for some tardiness. Nevertheless, it’s a significant problem. If there are no offers for him, we’re seeing a repeat of the Mesut Ozil situation where the highest paid player at the club is contributing nothing. I think there’s much more to this than we know, and the club’s stance may well be fully justified based on whatever has happened, but the optics of it are terrible again.

Not least because we have a big gaping hole in the squad where a striker needs to be. I think we have to consider why such a hard line is being maintained in these circumstances, Arteta has had some issues with players before but he’s not going to cut his nose off to spite his face. Who knows what kind of solution they can find over this one, but if this was the last time Arsenal gave a massive contract to a player heading into his 30s I wouldn’t be the tiniest bit surprised. That’s a lesson that needs to be learned at some point, even if at the time I could see the rationale behind the Auba extension.

It’s reported that while the manager and the team go to Dubai, Edu and Richard Garlick will be staying in London to work on transfers between then and the end of the window on Monday evening. Your guess as to what we get done is as good as mine at this point. I saw Arsenal Twitter react to the news that Newcastle had an offer accepted for Bruno Guimaraes, the Brazilian midfielder who is reportedly of long-standing interest to us – although perhaps not as high on our list as others:

Still, if he’s available now and we can find the money, perhaps we’ll do it. If you were the player, would you prefer Newcastle or Arsenal? At this point, from a footballing perspective there’s probably only one answer, but financially it’s hard not to think the Saudi Public Investment Fund isn’t sanctioning a transfer policy of ‘Throw a shit-ton of money at everything and see what sticks’.

The wages, signing-on fees, agent incentives and all the rest they’ll be offering will be huge because that’s the only realistic way they’re going to have of attracting any half-decent player. So, if there are reports that we, or any other club, have ‘lost out’ in a transfer battle with Newcastle, the truth of the matter is that they will have paid well above the odds because they know that the cost of a transfer (fee, wages etc) doesn’t really matter to them because they’re funded by a relatively unlimited pot of money. If it doesn’t go well, they’ll just keep going until they find one that does, skewing the transfer market even further in the process.

Anyway, it’s shaping up to be an interesting end to this transfer window, and I suspect some of this will go right down to the wire. A transfer deadline day live blog will keep you in the loop, of course, but let’s see what happens between now and then.

Till tomorrow.

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