It’s pretty quiet from an Arsenal perspective, so I’m going to look at a couple of things that cropped up on NewsNow just for the laugh (and I say this knowing that we’re delving into the deepest depths of clickbait here).
First is a report on FourFourTwo via some mad website I’ve never heard of which suggests that Mikel Arteta sees Harry Maguire as ‘a perfect addition to his backline, which has been impressive in the club’s push for the top four. Maguire would slot in next to Ben White, replacing Gabriel.’
Unless Mikel Arteta has bumped his head and gone a bit mental this has to be the biggest load of nonsense I’ve read in a very long time. Arsenal even thinking about Harry Maguire as a potential player is literally insane. We’ve finally got a central defensive partnership which works and we’d break it up to play a man with all the mobility of an Easter Island statue? Harry Maguire is so slow he makes lava look like Usain Bolt.
This would be the equivalent of a one-legged man finally being fitted for a state of the art prosthetic leg, only to throw it away and replace it with a broom handle with a tiny chair wheel duct-taped to the bottom of it. It would be like having a brand new kitchen installed into your house and then setting it on fire so you can sit amid the scorched, ashen remains to try and cook over a gas lamp. It would be like creating the perfect piece of music then asking the lad from Maroon 5 to sing over it.
Nobody in their right mind thinks ‘Hey, I’ve worked really hard and spent a lot of money to fix a long-standing problem in this football team so why don’t I go and wreck it all by bringing in English Mustafi?!’.
I feel like I should apologise. That was harsh on Shkodran Mustafi. And I think we can safely say that this is not going to happen. The world is a weird and crazy place, where strange and unexpected things can always happen, but not that weird and crazy.
Meanwhile, an Italian football website reports that ‘Roma Misfit Set To Return To Premier League’, referencing Ainsley Maitland-Niles. First off, they should have called him an ‘Arsenal misfit’ if they were serious about getting the clicks, but it doesn’t appear to be going that well for him under Jose Mourinho. He played quite a bit at the start but has spent the last few weeks on the bench, not even a substitute appearance to his name.
There’s still time for things to turn around, you never know when an opportunity might arise, and a player can have a big impact on the last couple of weeks of a season if they make the right kind of contribution. However, it doesn’t look as if it would be enough for Roma to make it permanent, and Ainsley will return to Arsenal and more than likely be sold this summer.
As we laud the impact of Academy graduates like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, there’s a generation who made their breakthroughs and haven’t quite been at the level required. Joe Willock left last summer for Newcastle; Maitland-Niles never quite convinced Mikel Arteta in any one position, and there’s been some uncertainty over his future for a while now; Eddie Nketiah is out of contract in the summer and will almost certainly depart for pastures new; while Reiss Nelson’s loan spell with Feyenoord hasn’t been particularly convincing, just 564 minutes of Eredivisie playing time all season, no goals, and just a single assist in the league.
That is an interesting aspect of our summer business as we think about how to add depth to the squad, we’re going to have to sell some players who might have added that. I think their Arsenal races are run to be honest, so selling is the right move, but it’d also be fair to say we haven’t been great at the whole selling thing in recent years. The occasional decent fee like Willock or Alex Iwobi aside, we’ve struggled, so after a good summer last time around in terms of incomings, people will be looking to see if we can replicate that and show we’re capable of doing good business for our outgoing players too.
Right, let’s leave it there for this morning. James and I will be recording the Arsecast Extra later on this morning so keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.
Pod should be out by lunchtime. Until then, take it easy.