Arsenal’s biggest challenge, now its got the second youngest squad



By Tony Attwood

I’ve noted several times that Arsenal have one of the youngest squads in the league – a situation which combined with the success this season (compared to recent years) suggests the future is rather bright.

But it does bring with it a few problems such as the fact the media, and their story suppliers (mostly the agents of players) get quite agitated about “new contracts for the players, or else he’ll be off”.    In fact, as far as I can tell, most of the rumours that circulate about players going hither and thither, are make-believe created by agents for a gullible media which wants copy without journalistic activity.

But occasionally of course the stories are true – often by pure chance and generally only two or three percent of them.  Take Xhaka leaving, for example.  His departure is everywhere as a story, but is it because a bid has been put in and everyone agrees, or Xhaka’s agent is aiming to get his man a new Arsenal contract?

And he’s not the only one of course “7 players leaving Arsenal alongside Granit Xhaka as Gunners exodus gets underway” shouts the Mirror.  But we’re ok because, “Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is braced.”  Whatever that means.

The main thrust of the stories is as it usually is. If it is an Arsenal player wanting to leave Arsenal are useless at doing anything to stop this.  But if it is a player Arsenal want to buy then all the power is with the selling club, as in Arsenal suffer Declan Rice blow as West Ham set deadline for talks.

Oh yes and all the time “Arteta is desperate”   So while Arsenal players can be pinched at knock down prices, the players the club wants are expensive and no discounts are on offer.

And while Arsenal management laze around, everyone else is on red alert (whatever that actually means in practice).  So Kieran Tierney is going to Newcastle.  Any moment now we will hear that his injuries have been because of Arsenal’s hopeless training methods.

Also off is Emile Smith Rowe because Arteta won’t play him, oh yes and Arsenal are running into FFP difficulties so need to off-load players.   Strange that no one really got into Manchester City suffering FFP difficulties over the years, although to be fair in that case (allegedly) they massaged the books and none of these inquisitive journalists noticed.

Reiss Nelson is also going (for nothing), and just when we thought that Folarin Balogun would be joining Arsenal, AC Milan appear to be about to nick him away.  But Nicolas Pepe will definitely be back at Arsenal.

Cedric Soares is about to leave as well, we are told, and Pablo Mari is off to Monza on a permanent deal.   And Saliba could be off because he is coming into the last year of his contract and there is still no deal in place.

And just to reiterate the point, every single one of these tales comes from a single Mirror article! 

As we know, every summer Arsenal are tipped to sign over 100 players (often as many as 130) and yet year after year only two or three percent of those players actually arrive.  And each time we are told it is not because the pundits got Arsenal’s interest wrong, but because the club was too slow, or wouldn’t pay enough.  Which raises the question, why on earth aren’t the clubs replacing their useless recruitment teams and instead bringing in all these journalists who know everything and can seemingly fix everything?

That isn’t explained, but staying with that one article in the Mirror, we are told Ramsdale will get his salary doubled to £6.24m a year.   Saka will get £15m a year.  Martinelli has already signed a new deal on £10m a year, and the Mirror says, “those three renewals constitute a £30million investment over the next four years.”  Actually no, if those figures are right that is £30m a year.  (Pesky business, this addition lark).

So why is the Mirror saying all this?   Well, you might recall that throughout January the Mirror, along with many others, were full of stories of how “Mykhaylo Mudryk reportedly has his heart set on signing for Arsenal,” and how “Mikel Arteta has urged Arsenal sporting director Edu to wrap up the transfer of Mykhaylo Mudryk as soon as possible,” and   “Mykhaylo Mudryk is Arsenal’s No.1 transfer target in January with Mikel Arteta a huge fan…”

Yet since signing for Chelsea he has made just seven starts, got two yellow cards and scored no goals.  For Shakhtar Donetsk he played 29 times and scored nine.

Did Arsenal really want him?  Were Arsenal on the edge of signing him, or was it all more media tittle-tattle invented by the Mirror et al?  Or were Arsenal feeding garbage to the media, to cover the fact that they were actually buying Trossard, Kiwior and Jorginho?

One thing is clear, the Mirror, like the rest, didn’t come out of the January window with any credibility, so whatever they say about this summer is much more likely to be wrong, than right.  Normally 97% wrong, 3% right.


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