Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Rumour mill: Leno, Bowen, Xhaka


Not a lot happening as you’d expect on an off-season Sunday, but there are a few transfer rumours doing the rounds.

First up, Bernd Leno is a target for Fulham, with James reporting that the newly promoted Londoners are ‘in talks’:

A couple of weeks ago on the Arsecast Extra we did our ‘money in, money out’ predictions, and I’ve lost the bit of paper now but I think James predicted around £7m for the German goalkeeper if he were to depart.

Update: I just went back and listened, and he said £6m! I think this was based on the idea that his likely destination was somewhere in Europe rather than the Premier League, so the fact it is another English club would probably make that fee quite a bit higher. It’s not that Fulham are massive spenders, but a hugely experienced international goalkeeper who is just 30 years of age should command a decent amount, even if he does just have one year left on his contract.

I think this would be a decent move for him, especially if he wants to try and push to regain his place in the Germany squad ahead of the World Cup in November, and I think he’s the kind of keeper who would suit a side like Fulham. He’s always been a decent shot-stopper, and I’ve always had a feeling he’s at his best when he’s busy, rather than in games where he’s called upon after periods of inactivity (not that we saw that a great deal at Arsenal to be fair).

I said earlier in the summer that how we sell during this transfer window will be interesting, because we need to be better at it. If Leno was going back to Germany, I’d understand a small-ish fee because of the financial disparity between there and the Premier League (that includes fee and wages), but as it’s another club in England, I hope Edu and co can bring in a decent amount.

Meanwhile, The Beautiful Game Podcast lads report Arsenal interest in Jarrod Bowen:

The language of this one is interesting. Arsenal speaking to representatives/agents, rather than speaking to West Ham. Are we speaking with them with permission from the Hammers, or is this informal sounding out, which happens behind the scenes all the time?

He’s a decent player for sure, but he’s primarily a right winger which is exactly where our player of the season plays. Given he’s English, and has a contract at West Ham until 2025, he would be extremely expensive – especially after a season in which he scored 18 goals and made 13 assists in all competitions. On that basis, I’d be quite surprised if this went any further than the rumour mill. We need back-up for Bukayo Saka, but I can’t imagine it’s going to be somebody who would cost this much.

Finally for today, there’s talk of Bayer Leverkeusen being interested in Granit Xhaka, and I do think his situation is one to keep half an eye on while we focus on the other more important aspects of the transfer window this summer. If we sign Youri Tielemans, he’s surely earmarked to play in that slightly more advanced left-midfield role that Xhaka was deployed in last season. We wouldn’t be paying big bucks for someone to come in an understudy him, that’s for sure.

In essence, despite how well considered Xhaka is by Mikel Arteta and how important a figure he sees him in the dressing room, it’s a demotion. He’d go from being a starter every week to, potentially, the Europa League group stage man. After six years, I think we know Granit Xhaka pretty well, and I’m not sure that’s a situation he’d relish. I don’t mean to say he wouldn’t be up for the challenge, but he might also read the room and think it’s time for the final move of his playing career. You might also wonder if irregular playing time might not suit a player whose more difficult moments come when he lacks a certain rhythm because of that.

I think Arteta would want to keep him, but I don’t think it’s impossible that he might want to go if his place in the pecking order is so obviously impacted. That would then leave us with another midfield issue, but it’s definitely one keep an eye on.

Right, that’s it for this morning. Have a great Sunday, back with more and an Arsecast Extra tomorrow.

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