It’s Monday, and believe it or not the Premier League fixtures are released on Thursday.
It’s going to be fun when we have four consecutive away games against Man City, Chelsea, mid-2000s Barcelona, and the 1970 Brazil team. Hopefully we’ll have made a signing or two by then. Then = the start of the season, obviously. I’m not expecting anything by Thursday, but it would be nice to get the ball rolling.
Hopefully the end of the internationals this week will be the kickstart for our summer business. Youri Tielemans, for example, is involved for Belgium as they take on Poland tomorrow, and after that the door is open for things to start moving. It looks as if Liverpool have sealed the deal for Benfica’s Darwin Nunez, which will probably accelerate the departure of Sadio Mane, and as much as we have to focus on what we have to do, seeing other clubs do their business tends to add some online urgency and/or restlessness.
Anyway, for today we only have more rumours, and none of them are about players coming in, more the guys going the other way (possibly). First up, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been linked with a move to Nottingham Forest, which would make a bit of sense. It’s clear after he was allowed leave to go to Roma in January that his time was pretty much up at Arsenal, and with just one year to go on his contract, we have to sell this summer.
Forest, newly promoted, feels like the right kind of club for him based on how the last few years have gone for him, and interestingly they may be looking for him to play at right back given that Djed Spence’s loan is over and he has returned to Middlesbrough. When you think about the opportunity he had at Arsenal to really have a go at cementing that place as his own it would be quite something if that’s where he was earmarked at Forest should that deal go through. However, he was quite public about his desire to play in midfield, so maybe their plans and his won’t marry. Let’s see.
From Serie A come reports that Fiorentina have offered a low-ball €7m for Lucas Torreira, to which Arsenal have not responded given there was an agreed €15m purchase option in his loan deal. I doubt it’s a case that the Italian side don’t value the player, because he had a very good season for them and was three times their player of the month in 2022, so I guess they’re simply trying to negotiate the best possible price.
Based on our willingness as a club to facilitate deals that are favourable to the buyers/departing players, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were chancing their arm a bit, but there’s also reportedly an issue between Fiorentina and Torreira’s agent over the size of commissions, so that might be why there’s a spanner in the works. Like Maitland-Niles, he has one year left on his deal, he doesn’t want to be in England, so let’s hope this one gets ironed out.
Staying in Italy and AC Milan are looking at Pablo Mari after he had a good loan spell with Udinese. He spoke about his desire to stay in Italy, and that feels sensible. He had a nightmare in our second game of the season, struggling with Romelu Lukaku in a way that not many other centre-halves did, and those were his last Premier League minutes of the campaign. They’re more than likely his last for Arsenal, and while he seemed like a nice bloke, he never really felt quite at the level required.
It’s not particularly surprising when you look at his career trajectory, and there were always questions over how his transfer came to be given the closeness between his agent and our then head of football, Raul Sanllehi. Was it a convenient deal that we knew we could get done because of that relationship, or one which didn’t have enough due diligence done regarding player’s ability to deal with the step-up to the Premier League? Still, if he’s found his groove in Italy and the Serie A champions are interested, he’s done well enough so good luck to him and hopefully we can get a decent fee for him.
Finally, there’s a story linking Nuno Tavares with Atalanta, and I saw somewhere on Twitter (apologies, I can’t remember who it was) that their new head of recruitment is formerly of Leicester and they have previously had their eye on the left back. Maybe a bit of 2+2=5, but Atalanta are in need of a left-sided player, so maybe there’s something to it.
Personally, if the money was right I’d be tempted. I wouldn’t sanction a loan because with Europa League + cup games in the first half of the season we’d be as well giving him the game time ourselves (unless the manager’s mind is already made up about him). Left back remains a niggling issue for us with concerns over Kieran Tierney’s durability, as well as Nuno’s quality, and the stories which suggest we’re after Bologna’s Aaron Hickey only really make sense if Tavares goes. One to keep an eye on.
Right, that’s it for this morning. James and I will be recording an Arsecast Extra for you in a while. 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.