Thursday, December 7, 2023

Timber deal agreed, Wenger’s statue, Smith Rowe

Morning all.

A few bits and pieces to get into this morning. First, confirmation yesterday from the man who confirms things about our bid for Jurrien Timber being accepted by Ajax.

He is such an interesting player. I watched a bit of him in preparation for our Patreon New Player podcast, and you can see why Mikel Arteta is interested in him. Although he played all his football as a centre-half last season for Ajax, I suspect he’s been earmarked for the right side as someone to give us depth and competition at right-back. The fact he can also play centrally is important too, and in Timber and Ben White, we’d have two players comfortable both outside and inside.

Given we don’t know the full state of William Saliba’s back, that’s important. It might be something we have to manage throughout the season, back injuries can be difficult and tedious, so ensuring we have depth there is crucial for the new campaign. Anyway, Timber is set for a medical, and it could be a deal that’s announced soon. The team depart for Germany at the weekend, and I’m sure the manager would like the Dutchman and Declan Rice tied up before then.

Speaking of Rice, this was pretty funny on Irish TV last night.

For those unaware, he made three appearances for the Republic of Ireland senior team in 2018 friendlies, having represented us at U21 level too, before deciding to choose England in international football. The same goes for Jack Grealish, who was another Ireland U21 international. Arsenal and Man City have paid £100m each for these players, but had they remained in green, I suspect their transfer fees would have been a lot lower, even if the quality of their play remained the same. The English tax in full effect.

It’s quite funny though, and I don’t blame them for choosing to predict the future by wanting to play with Bukayo Saka rather than Matt Doherty.

Elsewhere, it has been reported that the club are going to unveil a statue of Arsene Wenger ahead of the new season. Having returned for the first time since his departure in 2018, it feels like there has been a thaw in relations which were, understandably cool, after his 22 tenure was brought to an end. Behind the scenes, I think Mikel Arteta has done a lot to have him back.

In 2021, he said:

“I would like him to be more present at the club. I think the players will love him, they will benefit, they will be inspired to have him around. I think for the club it would be a huge boost.

“I always told him he’s welcome. Sometimes you need your time. It was so intense for him for over 20 years and you need to get a little bit away. I think it would be so beneficial for all parties to have him more present.”

Arteta, a former Wenger captain, now manages Arsenal. Per Mertesacker, another former captain, is in charge of the Academy. Edu, one of the Invincibles, is the Sporting Director. Jack Wilshere is charge of the U18s. Wenger’s influence remains at the very heart of the club, so to have him as a permanent fixture outside the ground he was pivotal in building, is the right thing to do. He’ll join former manager Herbert Chapman, as well as Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp who are in bronze.

Just need Rocky and Wrighty next.

Finally for today, Emile Smith Rowe continues to impress at the U21 European Championships. He provided a very nice assist as England beat Israel 3-0 to reach the final. They will face Spain on Saturday in what’s sure to be a big test, but for the player himself, it’s great that he’s working his way back to proper match-fitness, and hopefully when he returns to us for pre-season, he’s ready to challenge properly for a place in the team.

Ok, that’s your lot for this morning. Back tomorrow with more, and a brand new Arsecast. Until then.

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