Thursday, June 20, 2024

Rice agreement reached as Big Willy and Tomi return to training

Morning all.

Another day, another late night transfer exclusive from Big Dave. This one isn’t much of a surprise based on everything we’ve heard thus far, but it’s welcome nonetheless.

According to The Guardian, Arsenal will pay the guaranteed part of this fee – £100m! – in three installments over 24 months. Which is a very tight schedule for a sum of that size. As you can imagine, we’d have preferred to make more payments over a longer period of time, but West Ham dug their heels in and got the best deal possible for themselves. So it goes.

I understand Declan Rice is still on holidays, but not too far away – probably enjoying the music of the Vengaboys. It wouldn’t be a long flight to get back to London to do the medical, pictures, formalities and all the rest, but based on that I wouldn’t expect an announcement today, for example. Maybe by the end of the week, perhaps even early next week. Let’s see. The important thing is it’s done, and with Jurrien Timber set to join from Ajax in the coming days, the Gunners opening salvo to this transfer window has been impressive. There will be more to say about Big Dec, but let’s wait until it’s done done done, as opposed to just done or done done. If you know what I mean.

Speaking of big signings, Arsenal Women announced the arrival of England international striker Alessia Russo yesterday. She has arrived on a free transfer after her contract with Man Utd expired, and it comes after we offered United a world record fee for her in January.

If you fancy finding out more about her, the deal, and beyond, Tim has a piece on Arseblog News, and we also have a podcast episode dedicated to her and the other arrivals to Jonas Eidevall’s squad this summer.

Back to the men, and there were more pictures of players back in first team training yesterday, and while you can’t read too much into this kind of stuff, it was good to see William Saliba involved after his back injury. It’s obviously improved, which is very good news, and hopefully it’s sufficiently better for him to pick up a pen and sign that new deal sooner rather than later.

Takehiro Tomiyasu was also there, and that’s another boost. The vagueness around his injury was a bit of a worry, and I really do think he’s going to be an important player for us next season. He’s had some difficulties with fitness since he arrived from Bologna two summers ago, but he’s such an intelligent, versatile player, I wouldn’t write him off because of that. Fingers crossed he can stay injury free, because he gives us depth in basically every position across the back-line.

One player who may be on the move is Albert Sambi Lokonga, who found himself loaned to Crystal Palace last season. He barely played after Roy Hodgson replaced Patrick Vieira, and I suspect strongly his future lies elsewhere. It certainly sounds like he’s open to a departure, and when asked about his future, he replied:

I don’t know, I will try to go somewhere I will play. That’s the most important thing, to have some games and play game after game.

I still feel like midfield is an area to keep an eye on during this window. The arrival of Rice is big, no doubt about it, but with Granit Xhaka set to sign for Bayer Leverkusen, and real uncertainty over the future of Thomas Partey, there could well be room for one more signing. I know Lokonga barely played for us last season, but if three central midfielders were to go, it does feel as if there would be a need for another arrival.

I expect Lokonga to depart regardless, but further incomings probably hinge on whether interest in Partey from Italy and Saudi Arabia becomes more ‘concrete’, which feels like the word of the summer when it comes to transfers. Let’s see what happens there.

Right, that’s your lot for this morning. Have a good one, and we’ll bring you any breaking stories over on Arseblog News.

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