Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Friday round-up: Mari departs, Nelson injury woe

Good morning, a very quick Friday round-up.

Let’s start with an official departure, as Pablo Mari’s move to Serie A side Monza was made official – although we already knew this was going to happen because intrepid local reporter Carlo Wattini was at the airport to interview him as he arrived in Italy.

Reportedly there is a purchase clause built in that would see Arsenal receive around €7m but only if they avoid relegation this season. Given they came up from Serie B via the playoffs, it’s going to be a tough task, but if Silvio Berlusconi can get a few referees onside, you never know.

Mari has a contract with Arsenal until 2024, so we could face this scenario again next season if Monza don’t stay up, but for now it’s another bit of fat trimmed from the squad, some wages off the books etc. There was a bit in the latest episodes of All Or Nothing which showed Pablo heading off on loan last season, a deal which must have happened so quickly he just chucked all his gear into a black sack and left. I guess not every aspect of a footballer’s life is glamorous.

Meanwhile, there are reports of an injury to Reiss Nelson, which could see him ruled out for some time:

To say it’s untimely would be a bit of an understatement. He actually made the bench for the Palace game, but with less than a year left on his contract Arsenal would surely have been looking to move him on this summer. Unless this injury is much less serious than thought, there’s no chance of that happening before the end of this window which is not great for the club, but also terrible for a player who needs to play.

He had a pretty successful loan spell with Feyenoord last season, starting in the Europa Conference League final for the Dutch side as his Arsenal colleague Ainsley Maitland-Niles rode the bench for Roma. However, it took him some time to break into the team after joining, with coach Arne Slot expressing some concerns over his tactical awareness and base fitness. A groin injury picked up in his second training session there didn’t help.

In May, Nelson told The Athletic (£):

“I didn’t really care what I was eating. I was maybe staying up too late and I was just doing a lot of different stuff. But now, I actually need those extra hours to recover.

“I hated going to the gym just to do little stretches. Now I literally have to come in earlier to do 15 minutes of stretching, then come back in after training to do extra bits on my groin or my hamstrings.

“Those extra little bits are probably the main factor of why my season went from not really playing, being on the bench, getting injured, to now being in the team and striving for more in the final.”

Injuries seem to have come at the worst moments for him, but the Feyenoord loan was definitely something to build on. A 22 year old English player and product of the Arsenal Academy should be a reasonably attractive proposition to many clubs, and chances are before the end of the window – when things really start to heat up – he’d have found some kind of suitor.

Now? He could be in limbo until January, and if Arsenal do sign another winger to play on the right – something it feels like we really need to ensure we don’t run Bukayo Saka into the ground – then he’d remain a long way from the first team as and when everyone is fit.

It’s reminiscent a bit of the 2020-21 season when, if I recall correctly, some minor niggle prevented a loan move before the end of the summer window, and he chose to stay and fight for a place in the second half of the season. He made the bench a couple of times, but barely played and ended up with just 69 Premier League minutes to his name in what should have been a big season for his development. It was a year of stagnation rather than progress.

Hopefully this injury isn’t as bad as feared because more wasted months with no competitive senior football is the last thing he needs at this stage of his career.

Finally for today, there are stories on NewsNow about Kieran Tierney being a target for Man City, but from what I can gather it’s based on his name being mentioned in passing as they look for a left-back before the end of the window. I just can’t see that one happening, not this season – which remains a big one for the Scottish international with persistent question marks over his ability to stay fit for the duration.

Right, let’s leave it there for this morning. There’s a brand new Arsecast available for you, in which I chat Arsenal stuff with Nick Ames from The Guardian, and we go under the hood on football stats with Orbinho from Opta. All the links you need are below. Enjoy!


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