Friday, May 24, 2024

More cash? Someone else? A loan? Or nothing?

Morning all, welcome to Monday.

It’s not just a regular Monday though. It’s Transfer Deadline Day Eve. The most wonderful time of the year. By 11pm tomorrow night we’ll know whether Arsenal have been able to prise Moises Caicedo away from Brighton by submitting another derisory, laughable bid of over £70m, or if they’ve changed direction and annoyed another football club by offering to buy one of their players for a mere pittance in the tens of millions of pounds.

As it stands, it doesn’t look that promising with regards Caicedo – Brighton’s stance, an understandable one as I wrote yesterday, remains consistent.

The Brighton manager, Roberto de Zerbi, said after their 2-1 FA Cup win over Liverpool:

“I would like him to finish the season with us but we are ready to go forward without him.”

Which sounds encouraging, but why would he say anything else when his team did what they did yesterday without the Ecuadorian? He made sure the focus was on the players that produced a great win, not a guy who has behaved badly – for reasons we all understand, of course. It won’t be de Zerbi that Arsenal are dealing with either, so what he says doesn’t really shift the needle on this one.

I think it’s possible that a deal can be done, and Brighton could use this as another example of how well they negotiate. Having a reputation as a tough cookie when big clubs come knocking for your best players is very useful. It will stand them in good stead when the laughable offers for Kaoru Mitoma start flooding in during the summer. But what that means for Arsenal is paying a massive amount of money, and I’m not sure if that’s what we’ll do. Brighton can put whatever valuation they want on Caicedo, and there’s always a bit of wriggle room where you might pay more than you think he’s worth, but there’s also a point where the figure being sought is too far from the buying club’s valuation – and I can’t help but think we’re heading towards that territory.

So what then? Well, Moises Caicedo isn’t the only midfielder in the world, and it’s possible that Arsenal have a contingency plan. A lower profile player from a club somewhere in Europe might well be an option, although you then have the settling in period to consider. It’s not set in stone that any new signing from a different league takes time to get used to the Premier League, but it’s not as if it would be rare for a player to take a while to get up to speed.

Then there’s the loan market. In January, it’s not usually filled with the cream of the crop, but we did bring in Martin Odegaard a couple of years ago, and that’s worked out ok. Chances are though, it would be a fairly unexciting, run of the mill signing. A perfectly cromulent player who doesn’t raise the level, but he doesn’t necessarily have to because he’s only here for a few months to give us a bit of depth in an area where we’re quite light – especially if the Mohamed Elneny injury is as serious as some of the rumours suggest.

The issue of our summer target is another consideration. I think the owners have backed the manager financially in a substantial way in the last couple of years. We spent around £135m in the summer, we’ve spent another £50m in the January window and, despite reporting to the contrary, it’s hard to think that spending another £80m now (on Caicedo) wouldn’t have an impact on summer spending. We have players we can sell this summer who could generate revenue – it’s whether or not that would be sufficient.

But, I hear people say, we have a title to win now, and that is absolutely true. The injury scare for Thomas Partey gave everyone chills because of how important he is, and I completely get that. The thing is, maybe what you need to think about if you’re without him is how to rejig your team to cope, rather than seeking a player who can do exactly what he does to the level he does it, because that last part is really difficult. I’d have a similar worry over Bukayo Saka, in that we have players who can play on the right, but none of them can do what he does in terms of quality or consistency.

Which almost brings us full circle because if you do think someone like Caicedo is a good fit for the Partey role, then by default that player is going to be really expensive. Do they think he’s a better fit than Declan Rice though? Your guess is as good as mine. Personally, I would prefer the West Ham man, but the chances of him leaving them in January are practically zero, I’d say.

Anyway, let’s hope we get something done before the window closes. The potential blog post about ‘internal solutions’ for midfield in the wake of a quiet deadline day isn’t one anyone is going to enjoy reading too much. However, for all the public posturing during transfer windows, deals can get done pretty quickly when it comes right down to it, so let’s see what happens.

We recorded the Arsecast Extra for you yesterday, if you haven’t had a chance to listen, it’s all there below. Have a good one.

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