I have to tip my hat to some Arsenal bloggers out there, those dedicated writers who write a daily piece on our club and still manage to keep it interesting, accurate and insightful. You’ll find some of them on the left hand side, and I’d highly recommend having a look if you haven’t already, particularly if you are struggling with the absolute dearth of sense in the written press.
I do find it strange that, given some of them manage to make sense on a daily basis, more aren’t genuinely employed by media outlets, given that their written quality and logic is far superior to columns we pay good money to read. I know a lot of national newspapers struggle in these summer months, especially when there is no international tournament to fill pages, but some of the nonsense they spew is of such a low standard that it cannot be hard to find someone to raise the level. Robbie Savage gets to crayon his idiotic dribble, yet some truly insightful, witty and pertinent authors remain on the independent scene.
I’m pretty certain that doesn’t just to apply to Arsenal bloggers – I don’t read sites of other clubs, but we can’t be the only one with a slew of excellent wordsmiths. Balance should not be hard to come by. Anyway, food for thought.
Back in Arsenal world, and every day feels like Groundhog Day at the moment – there cannot surely be any remaining angles, true or false, to the Cesc and Nasri sagas. I’m not even sure you can call the Cesc situation a saga, because despite Barcelona dragging it out and making it complex, it should really be the simplest move in the world. He would be happy to go, we would sell him for the right price, and there are no other clubs getting a look in, so no real decisions have to be made.
It is utterly simple – make the right offer, and he’ll go. Barcelona can go about settling him back in, we can go about replacing him and adjusting the style of our team in his absence. In short, everyone can move on.
But, as we all know, they are refusing to come up with the right price, even offering less than was refused last summer, claiming his value has dropped over the past 12 months, a year in which he set up the World Cup Final winning goal. He is only 24, and suffered last season because of a few injuries and a lack of summer break (which could be connected). This summer, he is getting a full rest, and will be fit and firing for August, which leads me to believe he could be ready to raise his game again for next season. And yet his value is supposed to have dropped? Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Barcelona’s tactics lead me to believe that, once again, he will not leave this summer. The player is not going to hand in a transfer request, and is not the sort of character to play half heartedly next season if he doesn’t get his move – he loves two clubs, after all. So, we have no reason to sell way under his value, and £30m is plainly way under his value. Barcelona must know this, which is why they continue to try to force our hand by destabilising the player. It didn’t work last summer, and Cesc has made it perfectly clear it will not work this summer either.
Which begs the question – what exactly are Barcelona playing at? If they wanted him, they would raise their bid. I know they are massively in debt, but last summer they splashed out on Villa, and this time are doing to same on Sanchez. If they wanted Cesc above all else, they’d use the money for him. It is in their interest to bed him in as soon as possible, so dragging it out only helps them if it drives down the price, which we already know it won’t. So the only logical conclusion I can come to is that they will not raise their bid, they will claim to their fans that they tried everything, and they’ll come back next year. Maybe one day, they will stop being such derisory, arrogant neanderthals. Perhaps not.
I do pity the sports writers having to create a new angle on the story every day, when there are none to be found – it is not a transfer with any complexities, and as such there are no new angles to find until the day Barcelona stump up.
As for Nasri, I still think he will stay. I’m not saying he will sign a new contract, because I don’t think he will, but I think he will stay. I know we don’t want another Flamini, but there really is little we can do about it, because if a player decides to run down their contract, we can’t force them to move – those days are over. We can’t even threaten to sideline him and endanger his Euro 2012 place because the French situation is already complex, and it is doubtful that would have any effect.
Whatever Nasri (or his agent) claims about waiting to see Arsenal’s ambition in the transfer market, this isn’t about the squad, our ability to compete, or incoming players. This is about money, pure and simple, and from Nasri’s point of view, the best way to earn a massive wage is to see his contract out and leave on a free – the signing on fees for Bosman transfers of top players are enormous, and frankly, we will not be able to compete. Essentially, he is taking the chunk of money he would get, and demanding that we give him the equivalent in a payrise over five years. It is a decent bargaining position, and when you take club loyalty out of the question, it makes good business sense for him as an individual. But it is not a situation we will cave too – raising his salary by that amount does more than contribute to our rising ticket prices – it shows a willingness to bend to unreasonable demands, a fact many other agents of our players would no doubt seek to exploit.
In short, we aren’t going to offer him the money he wants, so I imagine he will either move on this summer, or on a free next year. I strongly suspect the latter, despite our inevitable attempts at the former.
Beyond that, nothing else is concrete. We know which players are likely to leave – it is just a case of getting the right price – while the same names continue to be linked as potential arrivals. I have to say I strongly suspect a few of them are enormous red herrings that we actually have no interest in, certainly not for the prices their clubs are asking (I’m thinking particularly of Cahill here), and would not be surprised if the players we eventually brought in were entirely different from those we hear about every day (with the exception of Gervinho, who really does appear to be on his way).
As for the timing, like most of you I’d prefer to see business conducted earlier in the summer, but I’m not going to panic just yet – it is still June, and that technically means it is still the 2010/11 season (football calendar runs July-June), so we have plenty of time. Besides, it makes perfect sense that we need to definitively know who is leaving before deciding who we need coming in. It is more complex than ‘if Cesc leaves, we need one more midfielder‘, since players are bought to complement each other – imagine if we had a player lined up who would sync well with Cesc – what would you do right now? Bring them in, or wait?
Football is about more than buying the best players for the best prices. And the transfer window is about patience. Wait for it to end before judging.