Happy Friday to you all.
Mikel Arteta meets the press this morning ahead of our game against Everton tomorrow, so we should get an update on team news etc then. The training pictures were released yesterday which left everyone scouring the images for signs of Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe.
The Ghanaian wasn’t obviously featured but I thought I saw him lurking in the background somewhere. Hopefully those ribs are feeling ok for the trip to Goodison Park. There was no sign of ESR though, and my suspicion is that whatever is troubling him is being dealt with in a very cautious way. As anxious as I am to see him back, he’s been gone since September, it’s now February, and there’s no point rushing things. I did notice Reiss Nelson is back, which isn’t necessarily the most exciting news, but as we head into the second half of the season, we need as many players fit and ready to go as possible, so that’s positive.
No doubt we’ll get some more from the manager later. Some. Not much.
Q: “Mikel, what’s the latest injury news?”
A: “Well, injuries are things that players have, and some of them have them right now but others don’t. They range in seriousness from ‘Not that serious’ to ‘Quite serious indeed’ to ‘We’d better buy a midfielder, quick!’, but I can’t say for now which level of seriousness applies to any of our players. We will assess them later and make our decision then.
Q: “What about the player who was cut in half by an elevator cord like that lad in the Omen II. Will he make the Everton game.”
A: *smiles knowingly* – “I cannot say. We will assess both bits of him in training today.”
We will, of course, keep you updated on Arseblog News when we watch the presser later. Even Johnny Two-Bits.
Elsewhere, after reports he was close to signing a new deal last week, it seems Gabriel Martinelli has put pen to paper on his new contract.
🚨 Gabriel Martinelli has now committed his future to Arsenal by signing a new 4.5yr contract. Previous terms were expiring in 2024 + #AFC had option to extend by 2yrs. Fresh & improved deal keeps Brazil winger at Emirates Stadium until 2027 @TheAthleticFC https://t.co/6kyjsCxjTB
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) February 2, 2023
That’s two Gabriels tied down in the last couple of months, and there are ongoing discussions with other players. William Saliba is one which causes anxiety, but he sounded a positive note about how that is making progress – and the other one is Bukayo Saka.
This is a really interesting one because I don’t think from the player’s side of things there’s any real issue. I don’t believe he needs to be convinced to stay at the club where he grew up, playing alongside some of his Academy pals and some of the best young players around, for a side that’s top of the table and in with a great chance to achieve something this season. Imagine the buzz he must get from being an Arsenal player right now, in that stadium with the love the fans have for him and the team. This is a very different scenario from trying to convince one of England’s best players to help us out of a mid-table struggle or something like that.
However, he is one of England’s best players (even if he doesn’t get offered the same privileges that others might with that distinction), and that’s going to be a factor in the negotiations. Wages, bonuses, all of that must be commensurate with his stature in the game right now. It doesn’t matter that he’s 21, his package is going to be bench-marked against other England stars at top clubs.
If X player is paid £X,000,0000 by [Bastard Club], then Bukayo Saka deserves £Y,000,000 from Arsenal [Non-Bastard club]. Simplistic, I know, but that’s how it’s going to go. I’ve seen plenty of talk about his agent too, and let’s be honest, this guy is a bit of a tough cookie in negotiations. He gets good deals for his clients – just ask Eddie Nketiah.
However, as tough as he is, and as much as he’s going to use every ounce of Saka’s talent and potential to ensure he gets what he wants, he and the club have found ways to do business for players like Eddie, Flo Balogun, Alex Iwobi and others down the years. I think Reiss Nelson used to be with him too. So, while it’s bound to be complicated, and the longer he plays it out the more anxious we’re going to be, I’d be very, very surprised if this one wasn’t done.
We’re in a strange place now where the super clubs abroad aren’t as financially strong as they were, so the threat they would normally possess isn’t what it was. That leaves Premier League clubs, and we know there’s a lot of money sloshing around, but then you come back to what the player really wants and I think Saka would – for now at least – be strongly inclined to stay here than cross any kind of English divide. I rest pretty easy on this one right now.
Speaking of transfers, we discuss the window in general in today’s podcast, and how the internal market within the Premier League is growing. We also chat about Arsenal’s business and how we’re set up for the second half of the season, as well as getting an update on how things went for the Arsenal Women in this window and lots more. Tune into myself and Tim below.
We’ll have our Premier League preview podcast over on Patreon later today too. For now, have a good one.