Wednesday, April 17, 2024

More Southgate nonsense + Jorginho’s future


We’re right in that spot now where it’s quietened down after the Interlull, but things haven’t picked up yet ahead of Sunday’s big game. Mikel Arteta’s press conference takes place tomorrow, and I think more than ever the club will try and keep a lid on any injury/availability issues before this one.

The stories right now about Man City players suggest doubts over Akanji, Stones, Walker, a couple of others, but they’ll get back to the training ground and get a served a giant helping of ‘Uncle Pep’s revitalising tonic, with his special blend of 115 ‘erbs and vegetables – sure to put the Pep back in your step!’, and they’ll be right as rain for Sunday. Just you watch.

One man who should be feeling nice and recharged, is Ben White who had the Interlull off, but remains the focus of news stories about his England situation. Gareth Southgate says:

It’s really for Ben now,. As I’ve said, the door is open for us. That’s clearly difficult ahead of the Euros, when he’s missed all of the qualifying campaign and you’ve got players that have played all the way through.

But we have no idea of knowing who’s going to be available in that area of the pitch. We’ve lost four to injury this camp. So, as I said, for me, it’s open. I have absolutely no issue.

Again, the framing of it is just a bit weird. Everyone knows the issue is not Southgate himself, and even the way he talks about how Ben White hasn’t been part of the qualifiers suggests he’d be there to make up the numbers. So why would he row back on his decision and go spend a summer sitting on the bench while Southgate picks his favourites?

If he was the kind of manager who showed he was open to giving players a chance, you could perhaps understand if White was tempted, but look at the two friendlies in the last week. Why play Jordan Pickford in two games rather than give your number 2 keeper a chance? Regardless of what’s going on at club level with Aaron Ramsdale, a smarter manager would have given him some game time for all kinds of reasons. Hopefully this is the last we hear of all this … until the summer when it will probably rear its head again, but perhaps in the context of England actually missing a player of White’s quality while lesser options fall short of what’s required.

Meanwhile, the future of Jorginho is a talking point after some comments from his agent about what might happen this summer. He said in a radio interview:

“He’s out of contract with the Gunners, we’ll talk to them because he’s doing well, and see if they need him for next season …”

From what I understand, there’s nothing imminent about Jorginho, but although we do have an option for another year, I think discussions have been about new terms entirely. In that I think if he is to stay on, he’d probably want a two year deal – which would make sense because if he moves somewhere else, chances are that’s what he’d be offered by another club. So, it’s a question of some security for the player, and for Arsenal to decide if they view him as someone who they think can contribute over that period of time.

Of course, there’s nothing that says he has to stay for two seasons. A transfer next summer is entirely doable if that’s what both parties want, so let’s see what happens. Midfield is going to be a key area this summer, with some kind of rebuild needed. Mohamed Elneny will leave the club when his contract expires; Thomas Partey will turn 31 in June with a year left on his contract, and I suspect if there’s a reasonable offer from anywhere, Arsenal would be inclined to take it; and the question mark over Jorginho is there too.

Perhaps much depends on who Arsenal are targetting in the summer window. Do they want someone who can do what Jorginho does, a player who is absolutely complementary to Declan Rice, capable of anchoring midfield but also playing a little further forward too? Or someone who might bring a new dynamic to that area of the pitch. I think that will influence the decision making when it comes who stays and who goes, but no doubt it’s something that Arteta and Edu are very clear about in their planning and strategy, but it does feel as if one of the current 30+ players needs to stay for depth, and my inclination would be to stick with Jorginho.

Right, let’s leave it there for now. Back tomorrow with more, and an Arsecast. Until then.

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