Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Deadline day: Jorginho links indicate a measure of desperation

So here it is, transfer deadline day, everybody’s having fun.

Well, maybe not fun. There’s definitely a desire for Arsenal do something, but not just anything as last night’s news about interest in Jorginho demonstrated. The Chelsea midfielder emerged as an option for us and despite our need for another player, the reaction to it has been quite telling.

From a fan’s perspective, I completely understand it. First off, this feels like a retrograde step. Having done similar deals in the past, it felt like we’d learned this particular lesson. And just to be clear, the lesson is: don’t buy old bastards from Chelsea. The Willian deal in particular felt like a watershed moment. After that our transfer strategy changed.

We stopped buying old bastards from Chelsea, and bought younger, better players instead. The consequence of that (while obviously skipping forward a good bit) is that we’re top of the league with a team everyone likes, and we have a great opportunity to go for the title. How many times to you need to be stung in the face because you’re trying kiss a scorpion before you stop trying to kiss scorpions? This feels very scorpion-snogging adjacent.

The other thing is that what Chelsea are doing in the transfer market is so obscene, even by football’s ridiculous standards, it feels wrong to give them any kind of money that might help balance their books at all. Not to mention the fact that the £15-20m they want for a 31 year old with a few months left on his contract is money we could definitely use better. Finally, those with a long memory will remember us being led down the deadline day garden path by Chelsea some years ago, when we were looking to bring in Demba Ba on loan. That deal was nixed at the 11th hour, leaving us no chance to find anyone else. It might be a ‘different’ Chelsea now, but you still wouldn’t put it past them because at their core they remain a vile institution which should burn in hell for all eternity.

We can also probably surmise that exploring this option, even as a reported contingency, suggests there’s scant hope Brighton can be persuaded to part with Moises Caicedo, and that the reported injury to Mohamed Elneny is serious enough for us to do something that has all the hallmarks of desperation to it.

That is the fan perspective though. Well, this fan. I can’t speak for anyone else, and I won’t try and convince anyone that this is a transfer to get behind. I fully get why there would be such reluctance. I know this is very much a first world problem, but transfers are supposed to be exciting, not make you feel like you ate a handful of gone-off prawns the night before.

Nevertheless, I suspect what we think as fans and what Mikel Arteta and Edu think might well be different. We see a Mr Tumnus looking, skippity-hoppity penalty-taking Chelsea pensioner who is very much in the September of his career. We might also question his motivation to cross the London divide, and it triggers some past-traumas in us that we’d very much like to leave behind. If we’re worried about an injury to Thomas Partey, there’s little chance Jorginho can deputise in that position properly given his physical decline, but then I think that scenario would require a midfield rejig anyway, rather than hoping he or someone like Lokonga could just be an effective analog.

I reckon they see, in a time of acute need, a highly experienced international player who – although he doesn’t have the legs you’d ideally like for a team that plays the way we do – is very good on the ball and in that sense provides a measure of cover and depth that we absolutely require. We don’t have a young tyro coming through the Academy who is ready for this level yet; and beyond Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, we have Albert Sambi Lokonga whose form and confidence are worryingly low. So, while they’ll hardly be unaware of how deals like this haven’t worked out in the past, their outlook would be different from ours. The bigger risk, from their point of view, would be to do nothing – and as much as I share the disquiet over Jorginho, I think that’s probably correct.

It’s also the very essence of a stop-gap deal that, depending on duration (as short as possible) and cost (here’s 50p you blue twats), doesn’t impact on your summer plans to bring in one of the most high profile English midfielders in the Premier League.  I know for some that ought not to be a consideration right now because of what we’re aiming for this season, but you can’t ignore the fact that decent forward planning has helped us improve the team.

Again though, this isn’t trying to convince anyone of this – just to try and rationalise it from the perspective of the manager and the Technical Director. Meanwhile, questions about how we’ve got to this point in the window and this is what we’re resorting to are completely valid. Was the pursuit of Caicedo overly optimistic? Did we have too many eggs in that basket? Isn’t there a single other midfield player out there we could bring in today who doesn’t have the Jorginho baggage?

If we’ve given out plenty of credit for the way we’ve operated of late and how we’ve improved in the market, I don’t think it’s then unreasonable to harbour some valid concerns over this particular matter. Better doesn’t mean flawless. Some criticism isn’t the end of the world. And look, the final thing I’ll say is that some of the fear or disquiet over Jorginho is directly related to how successful this season has been so far. It’s not easy to find the balance there, but it’s part of it.

As for what’s going to happen between now and 11pm tonight, your guess is as good as mine. There’s talk of a third bid for Caicedo which would have to be huge for Brighton to budge, but let’s see. The Jorginho thing seems to depend somewhat on them signing Enzo Fernandez from Benfica, and hopefully the Portuguese club don’t make that easy for them either. There are other midfielders out there too, but how much we can do in the final hours of the window remains to be seen.

We’ll keep you up to date on the traditional transfer deadline day live blog over on Arseblog News. We can’t promise updates every minute or anything, but when news breaks we’ll have it there, and there may even be the odd doodle.

Right, let the day play out the way it will. Catch you on the far side.

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