By Tony Attwood
You can’t read a transfer rumour about Arsenal without the issue of defenders coming up. One is retiring, one is out injured for the rest of the year and one (or is that two?) are useless. So we desperately need defenders by the shed load.
I’m not sure what the general opinion is, but I still like Rob Holding as a player and very much hope (and indeed expect) him to make it as a first team regular.
I also like the way Arsenal conducted themselves concerning the transfer. From what I gather Holding was signed in 2016 for £2.5 million with an extra payment of the same amount due depending on appearances etc. However it seems that Bolton then asked Arsenal if they would renegotiate the fee to pay some of it earlier to help with Bolton’s cash position, balanced with a small reduction in the overall amount to be paid. And Arsenal agreed.
Apparently Bolton have confirmed the situation with a spokesman for Bolton saying that the amendment to the contract was made possible because of the “excellent working relationship” between the two clubs.
This is an interesting alternative perspective to the normal talk from the media which tends to stress Arsenal’s incompetence at letting players slip through their fingers usually because they were “too slow” or “refused to offer a realistic amount” for the player.
But it has always seemed to me, from the little I pick up, that rather than the story of general incompetence and dithering, Arsenal do tend to be known as a club one can do proper business with. The tricks that some clubs like to play of going for a player with a high offer which is suddenly dropped at the last minute, are not Arsenal’s style. Hence where there is a deal to be done, as in the case of Holding, selling clubs prefer to talk to Arsenal if they can.
The price for Arsenal went up, it is said, because Southgate (that’s the man not the part of London that the North Circular Road goes through) picked him for the England Under-21s at the Toulon Tournament in France and Euro Championships in Poland.
He has played 12 times for us – and was most notably included in the Cup Final a year ago and he looks to me to have been a real bargain.
And I mention all this because there is another such player who is available at the moment in Jonny Evans; not in terms of age but in terms of money. Lots of players have relegation release clauses in their contracts which allow them to move on in the light of relegation for a modest fee – in this case again said to be just £3m.
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As I say Evans of course is not a youngster like Holding but even so the rumour mongerers suggest that he could be of interest – although Manchester City are said to be poking their noses in as well. But we do need someone, particularly as Koscielny will miss the first half of the season. Other defenders being mentioned are Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund (age 29) and Caglar Soyuncu from Freiburg (age 21). Kalidou Koulibaly (age 26) is another player who gets listed when the bloggettas have not much else to write about.
And we have Calum Chambers who is 23. I am really not sure what the future holds for him. However I think we got a good deal with Konstantinos Mavropanos who is after all still only 20. So maybe the issue is to have a few older heads around to help the youngsters settle into the side. Nacho Monreal is 32 so clearly able to give us another one or maybe two seasons at the highest level, and I’d argue that he has been outperforming himself of late. That’s one older head.
Mustafi is 26 – but everyone says he ought to be sold, and if he is (and thus is not to be used as the other older player in the team) then we will need one solid newcomer who is experienced. Jonny Evans is 30, and so it could be him. Certainly balancing the ages could be a factor. I know Tony Adams started to boss the Arsenal back four before he could walk, but such combinations of personality and on the pitch skill are rare.
If we find a youngster who can do an Adams, all well and good, but otherwise, age could be a significant issue.
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