By Tony Attwood
Ask people who don’t really follow Arsenal but like to make a noise about Wenger being useless, who our breakthrough player was last season and they will say Alexis. Ask them who else we brought into the team and they have to pause for a while before remembering Coquelin and Bellerin. Because Coquelin and Bellerin were HUGE entrants to the regular team last season.
But they didn’t allow the DONE DEAL sites to write about them. Indeed when both players came into the team, their appearances were seen as utter confirmation that Wenger had lost it, Arsenal would sink to mid table mediocrity and the club was dead.
Now these self same sites are at it again, talking up wild stories, but ignoring the biggest transfers of them all. Indeed if you want to know my choice for the most important acquisition of the last couple of years (and even if you don’t want to know I am going to tell you) it is StatDNA – the analysis company Arsenal bought in 2012. Bellerin, Coquelin and Gabriel are just three players whose potential has been seen as a result.
Next, look at the sites that supposedly list Arsenal’s new players for the season. They will show Cech of course, but others?
Krystian Bielik has now gone off the radar, but he is most certainly there. But while the headlines are all of the WENGER REVEALS WHY ARSENAL AREN’T SIGNING ANYONE type anyone seriously interested will recall Jeff Reine-Adelaide, one of two 17 year olds who were purchased this summer, and who is on the trip to Singapore. Lens agreed a £3 million plus bonuses on appearances for Reine-Adelaide and Yassin Fortune.
Now Arsenal has always signed youngsters but mostly to come up through the academy. Finding youngsters who can make a quicker entrance is harder, but possible.
Meanwhile just as the DONE DEAL sites scream about the transfers of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger getting the fact that they were moving right, but the club they were going to wrong, Arsenal carry on the new approach.
Arsène Wenger has said as firmly as he can that Mesut Özil will not leave Arsenal amid a sudden rise in the hysteria level among journalists and copywriters. It is as if we are back to the days when we could sell Adebayor for a £22m profit and have people saying that Arsenal was a selling club.
(Actually it is interesting – during the years of paying for the Emirates, any sale of a player by Arsenal was greeted with the “selling club” slogan. But as Liverpool are endlessly forced to sell their better players the phrase is hardly used. Some bias evident perchance?)
The comment from Mr Wenger followed the arrival of the squad in Singapore for the two match tournament. The only missing members of the team were Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina still on holiday and Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky, who are injured.
The whole idea of Mesut going to Juve seems ludicrous. They have let Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal go, and must surely have some sort of idea as to who they are buying as replacements. It looks like the typical smokescreen as proper negotiations continue under cover for Juve to sign their new men.
Mr Wenger also said that he was happy with the options he has in attack giving a clear indication that he would not sign another forward:
“Özil is our player, he will remain our player and he wants to remain our player. It is a big season for him because he had a difficult start last year and in the second part of the season he was very important. There are many offensive players who have an important season in front of them but I’m confident because I think they have the quality.
“Özil understands the rhythms of English football and he has improved his defensive attitude. He works hard and offensively he is a top class player.”
At that same time he denied any interest in paying £49 million for Sterling.
“It is a good buy for Man City. It is an expensive one but they can afford it. We never considered it because he plays in an area where we have plenty of players. We have Walcott, Chamberlain, Sanchez, Wilshere who can play wide, [and] Gnabry, so we have plenty of players and he’s a wide player basically, or behind the striker.”
There was also talk about Cech. “He will give us talent and experience and knowledge of the top-level game. He can contribute in the game to stabilise our defensive sector. As well, all the other keepers are still young on the experience front and he can contribute to develop our young keepers. They are top quality and his positive experience will help.”
And so onto other new signings: “It depends. We are still open to do something else.”
According to the Telegraph that something else could involve, “The fine Italian city of Naples is bracing itself … as Arsenal gear up to methodically steal all of its football club’s best players.” Quite how a city braces itself is not explained.
First off it suggests that despite specifically saying that he does not want a new striker, and despite the fact that Gonzalo Higuain is just about the most publicised transfer option of the past 2000 years, the Telegraph seriously says that “Arsenal may well be his destination.”
Indeed according to the Excess, sorry, Express (which last week managed to tell us that chocolate is actually a slimming food given that when you eat it the body produces various chemicals that break down fat faster than chocolate puts it in your body) said that Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis has said he would “like to sell” Higuain.
Now if you believe that (the notion that chocolate is a slimming food) you will indeed believe anything, and make yourself quite ill, but the Express certainly knows a thing or two about its readership.
Napoli are insisting that Higuain’s buy-out clause of £64.7million is met. De Laurentiis is bang up for it, provided he gets his enormous pot of gold. “Sell Higuain for €90 million (£64.7m)? I’d like to sell him,” he said. “That way I can buy eight players for the club.”
So Napoli are the new Tottenham. Or the new Liverpool. Take your choice. Neither are in the Champions League. Actually nor is Napoli
Arsenal are also reportedly close to a deal for the Spanish winger Jose Callejon. “We’re not buying any forwards,” says Mr Wenger. “Oh yes you are,” says the Metro.
Apparently he scored 32 goals in the last two seasons, will cost around £18m and Liverpool are interested so there he goes.
Le10 Sport goes further saying that Arsenal are favourites to sign defender Faouzi Ghoulam and not Atletico Madrid, PSG, Chelsea et al. He is a left back.
Meanwhile EPSN are pushing the notion that Serge Gnabry is going to WBA on loan.
But increasingly I am getting the feeling that the new big name of 2015/6 is going to be one of the youngsters coming through. The effects of the purchase of StatDNA are starting to be felt.
We’ve got articles so far on every pre-season from 1996 to 2009 with more on the way soon. The latest is….
2009 pre-season: The disgraceful exhibition of the media and Uefa against Eduardo