By Tony Attwood
We’ve been emphasising of late the need to keep an eye on the total number of players that Arsenal can register – not just the “25” players aged over 21 who can fit into the squad but particularly the number of Non-Home-Grown players which is limited by PL rules to 17.
With the general assumption that Sokratis and Terreira are Arsenal bound in adddition to Leno and Lichtsteiner, we have 18 such players and need to lose one. Key candidates for the leaving are one of the goalkeepers, Lucas Pérez or Joel Campbell.
Of course that just takes us back to 17, with no room for further incoming, so losing more than one might be necessary.
Now the Daily Canon is telling us that “Lucas Perez will be at Arsenal for pre-season and his agent claims the forward wants to make it at the club.” Which is ok, except that it reduces the number of options on who is to leave, just to balance the books.
And for once that Lucas story does seem to have a proper origination rather than being one bloggetta saying another is the source, with the other blaming the first one. This is TheLaziali.com who say that they have contacted the player’s agency, Protio Sport, for comment on Lazio’s interest and Perez’s future. They say he stays.
But as in previous years when we have tracked the magic 17 and 25 numbers, journalists just don’t seem the slightest bit interested in the legalities – only in the stories they can either find or invent.
Thus proceeding along this route we have The Independent which says that Fellaini from Manchester United to Arsenal is still an option and of course that would add further pressure on the HG section of the 25.
The Express has a devil-may-care attitude to the HG issue (which is a trifle odd since everywhere else in the newspaper it has an utterly totally pro-England screw the rest of the world vision) and it is still pushing the case of Ever Banega coming to Arsenal without any suggestion of who is going to leave to make room. 101 Great Goals also has the story.
Perhaps the Express will change its “Stop all immigration” editorial policy.
Football London however are quite adamant that Arsenal will not be signing Fellaini. But they suggest N’Zonzi reckon could be on his way. as is Doucoure.
Meanwhile “Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund are locked in a two-way battle to sign the Juventus centre-back, Medhi Banatia” according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
So to summarise, if we assume for a moment that the four players everyone says have already signed have actually signed, (Leno, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis and Torreira) and the statement added that Lucas Pérez will stay we need to lose one before the registration date, and then one for each one of the extras we bring in. The most likely candidates seem to me to be:
Petr Cech or David Ospina (can’t see both going at once) unless Arsenal really, really believe in the quality of one of the youngsters coming through. Cech’s contract has now ended and we have not heard about what happens to him next.
Shkodran Mustafi got a lot of stick last season from some supporters and most commentators who found him the next easy target to attack and yet if you work through his figures, as with Xhaka, he was nowhere near the poor player that some suggested.
Saad Kolasinac came in with a bang but faded from the reckoning in the second half of the season, but he is the only backup we have to Monreal.
Joel Campbell whose contract has now ended.
I think it is easy to see two players who we are going to lose (although as I said we only need to lose one if we don’t buy any more NHGs). That could be either one keeper or Campbell. Lose both and we have space for one more non-HG.
But equally it could be that, taking this view it looks to me as if the signing of the four already said to be coming and the departure of one more NHG) will conclude the business for Arsenal. Of course we might find some more under 21s who are not affected by these numbers, or another Home Grown player, where we do have space, but otherwise, I think that could be that.
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