Thursday, February 29, 2024

Turner saves : Eddie and Flo face-off?

Morning. It’s a pretty quiet start to the week.

Across the Atlantic, Matt Turner has been up to goalkeeping goodness, saving two penalties in a shootout to send the US into the semi-finals of the Gold Cup. They’ll play Panama on Thursday, with the final taking place on July 17th.

After that, it’ll be interesting to see what he does. As the man captaining the USMNT, he’d be an obvious draw when Arsenal play out there in a couple of weeks time. Will he take some holidays, or just hook up with the squad so he can feature in the pre-season games? You could understand the need for a break, but also the desire to be involved in Arsenal’s trip to the USA.

Turner’s penalty statistics are very impressive too. He’s faced 24 in his career, and saved 11 of them – that’s a 45.83% success rate. Aaron Ramsdale, by comparison, has saved 9 of 33 during his career, which is a success rate of 27.27%. None of which means much when it comes to who plays for Arsenal, but it’s mildly interesting on a day when there’s not much else happening.

Speaking of goalkeepers, I was a bit sad to see David de Gea leave Man Utd. They appear to be on the verge of signing Andre Onana, a player we were strongly linked with, but whose situation – a doping ban – more or less precluded any kind of transfer at the time. He’s a much more modern keeper, good with the ball at his feet, but all we can do is hope that any benefit to United from his arrival is immediately offset by their need, due to a terrible injury crisis, to play Harry Maguire all season.

Back to us, and I thought this was an interesting snippet from Nick Ames in The Guardian, in a piece about our summer business and what we still want to do:

Arsenal’s business is not complete. They would like to bring Roméo Lavia in from Southampton to add youth, depth and drive to the reconfigured engine room but a £50m asking price looks rich. Even though Reiss Nelson has signed a new deal, quality cover for Saka remains a live issue. Up front, at least one of Folarin Balogun and Eddie Nketiah is likely to depart. Whoever stays must be good enough to keep Gabriel Jesus on his toes.

The second striker thing is going to be very interesting. We know that Folarin Balogun has made it clear he doesn’t want to go on loan again, and that after a successful season at Reims, he’s hungry for more first team football. Eddie Nketiah is a player that Mikel Arteta rates, but as we get to know him better, we can see that he’s a player who can score goals for you when he gets a run of starts, but who very rarely gets on the scoresheet when he comes off the bench. For a player with his squad status, that’s a bit of an issue.

Balogun will be on the US tour, not just to make up the numbers, but so the manager can assess him and see how he performs. Not only in the games, but during training, to see if the commitment he demands from every player is there. The elephant in the room, so to speak, is the fact that we’re on the cusp of spending £200m, we want to spend more, and in order to do that, some players are going to have to be sold.

Right now, when you look at the potential departures, there’s one player who stands out as a kind of ‘hot property’, and that’s Balogun. I think you can make a compelling sporting case for us to hold onto him, to give us more depth at centre-forward, but an equally compelling financial one to cash in off the back of his goalscoring exploits in France (assuming you do a good deal with the right kind of clauses in it too).

Nick’s piece raises the possibility that both of them might end up elsewhere, which would then leave room – and finance – for another arrival in the forward area. Obviously Balogun, Eddie and Gabriel Jesus are all distinct as players with their own skillsets, but physically they’re in the same kind of ballpark. Would there be room for somebody a bit different? Let’s see. The tour, and the games we play, might give us a better idea of how Arteta is thinking, and what might happen. This situation is especially interesting because both players have the same agent, so the conversations that happen about each of them will have to be had with that in mind.

Right, let’s leave it there for now.James and I will be recording an Arsecast Extra for you a little later on this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

For now, have a good one.

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