Monday, May 20, 2024

Tierney, Toney, Martinelli nonsense

Morning all. It’s a very quiet Thursday with not much going on from an Arsenal perspective.

Ahead of Real Sociedad’s Champions League game with PSG last night, Kieran Tierney spoke to Sid Lowe about life in La Liga and San Sebastian. Unsurprisingly, he’s loving the city and the food, something anyone who has ever been there will understand. He also talked about how he tried to learn the ‘Zinchenko role’ at Arsenal, but admitted it was something that didn’t come naturally to him:

I was trying to learn that at Arsenal. You see how well it works and it’s hard to question: I tried my best, learned, tried to do it in training and games. Maybe I can be very comfortable in that position one day. I got to practise with one of the best in the world, Zinchenko. It’s so natural to him, he makes it look so easy. But for me it’s probably more natural, going up and down the wings.

I don’t think that he will ever be as comfortable playing in the interior as Arsenal would want him to be, but then you also wonder about the left-back position and what might happen going forward. Is this it now? Do we need a Zinchenko type forever, or is there another development, a tactical tweak somewhere else on the pitch that means you do something different? Time will tell.

Where Tierney and Zinchenko are quite aligned is the fact they’re both a bit brittle, injury prone if you will. KT is currently sidelined with his second hamstring strain of the season, while Zinchenko’s calves can only do so much before they give up and need a rest. For all the talk of bringing him back to help give us a bit of depth, it would have been fairly typical if he had returned and then got injured. He said though:

Arsenal are amazing. They’ve helped me the last four years. Even this season, letting me come here and try this, experience it. They had Kiwior’s injury and it would have been easy to say: ‘No, we’re going to stop it.’ But they were open, honest and said: ‘On you go for a year.’ I’m very grateful.

Hopefully, he can stay fit and play well for Real Sociedad between now and May. I suspect they would probably have some reservations about making the deal permanent because of his injury problems so far, but if they like the player enough, it could be sufficient to do a deal. Wherever he goes (because I think his time at Arsenal is probably over), any fee we get for him will be informed by the fact he’s just not a player you can count on to be fit for 38 league games + cups/Europe, and that will impact his price-tag. That’s one to worry about in a few months though.

Elsewhere, I see Brentford have bought a striker, splashing out £30m on Igor Thiago from Club Brugge, which will lead to even more Ivan Toney to Arsenal chatter. At this point it’s pretty obvious Toney is going somewhere this summer, I’m just not convinced it’s going to be to us – unless the price is way, way lower than the numbers that have been bandied around (and to be fair I think that will be the case given he’ll be into the final 12 months of his contract).

Even then, I’m not sure. I just feel a manager like Mikel Arteta, who looks very closely at the character and personality of his players, might have some reservations about Toney. He is a very good player but there’s a fair amount of baggage with him too. Not just the betting stuff, which is significant on its own, but down the years there have been some comments here and there – including his ‘joke’ last weekend about the manager not wanting him at the club and his recent Jake Humphrey podcast style nonsense about manifesting goals – that might not work in his favour. This is based on no inside info whatsoever, just to be clear, so I could be miles off, but I guess we’ll see when summer comes.

Finally for today, I saw a suggestion that Barcelona are interested in Gabriel Martinelli, and have put him on a list with Kaoru Mitoma and Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia for the summer. Honestly, that club and the people who cover it are utterly addicted to their own bullshit.

Barcelona’s finances are such that rather than actually buying one of the top wingers in Europe, they’re going to have to sell their crown jewels to try and survive. Nobody will give them anything for a Lewandowski, but as they try to rebuild the Fallout 4-esque husk of the Camp Nou, as well as keeping the lights on, they’ll do well to fend off approaches for the likes of Lamine Yamal, Pedri and Gavi. I hope clubs do to them what they have done to others for so many years. And in August, the carrion birds will fly away, leaving the meatless corpse of this rotten institution covered in dust and flies and their fans weeping in Plaça de Catalunya.

Am I still bitter about having to travel from Paris to Barcelona in 2006 on a train full of jubilant twats after a certain game of football? That is not for me to say.

Till tomorrow.

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