By Sir Hardly Anyone
The greatest fear of the football journalist is that he or she should be out on his/her own when it comes to a story. With no one doing any proper research they are anxious that their inventions should be backed up by other media. Which is partly why every possible transfer includes a citation of some other publication that has mentioned it first.
It is in fact the reverse of journalism, where the “Exclusive” is craved above all else. With football news it is being part of the herd, running the same tracks as the rest, that is wanted. Exclusive is used as a last resort when the paper decides to publish, but knows no one else is running the story. It is a plea to the rest of the industry to take up the idea, not a boast of the work of their research team.
So we have a general agreement on who is leaving between now and the restart…
1: Matteo Guendouzi, for disciplinary reasons. A great shame as he is a fantastic player in my book, but as we have noted before, the discipline was why we got him so cheap in the first place, and is what will undoubtedly make him harder to sell and keep the price low. He really is a bit of a silly chap because with a regular session with a psychologist he could overcome these tendencies, and earn a lot more money as well as being happier.
2: Mesut Ozil seems next, but much depends on him. Would he sooner get his pay each month and not play, or would he sooner play? I suspect there is something going on that we know nothing whatsoever about, which could be trauma from the attack he suffered, or an injury that is proving impossible to fix.
If either of these are the cause then Arsenal will have to reveal the situation to any potential buyer, and that could well put most teams off, unless Arsenal let him go for next to nothing, and Ozil has very modest pay requests.
The UK is notoriously awful at handling psychological problems, and although there have been efforts to bring the country at least into the 20th century if not the 21st on such matters, we remain a long way behind much of western Europe in handling this. Sympathy for any person with psychological difficulties is often hard to find.
3: Sokratis played 40 games in his first season with us, but only 29 this season, leading to suggestions that he has fallen down the order. That might be true but we do need back up defenders especially as we have just booked what I hope will be at least a dozen extra games in the Europa.
The question therefore is who else can step in if we run out of players in the centre of defence.
We do know that Tierney (despite all the Daily Mail’s nonsense) can readily slip into that position. And we have Chambers, Holding, David Luiz, Mustafi, Saliba, and Pablo Mari so a reduction of one is possible even if Chambers doesn’t recover from his injury.
4: Mkhitaryan has shown no sign of wanting to come back and Arsenal haven’t been making big noises about him coming back, so he seems likely to make the new season.
5: Mailtland-Niles is tipped in many quarters to go, but the flexibility we saw from him in the cup final makes me think otherwise. It is not just that he can play in a range of positions, he can also switch positions during a match, which can be quite confusing for defenders and is a difficult skill to pull off.
6. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang could go, if he is determined to go, and some suggest that has been his history, but he did survive five campaigns at Borussia Dortmund. His scoring rate, although good, is not at the level it was (39 goals in 49 games in 2015/16 and 40 goals in 46 games in 2016/17), so he might well think that staying is probably his best bet.
Above are the six the media are talking about. But we might also consider…
7. Anyone whose contract has just one more year to run. Running down the contract is bad news for any club that wants a bit of cash from a transfer, so the one-year-to-go scenario is always a sign of a player leaving.
Unfortunately that does include Aubameyang. The other members of the “last year” group are Sokratis (another reason for him going as he is 32), Ozil, David Luiz, Mustafi and Macey.
Matt Macey has had the pleasure of being the sub in a cup final, but assuming neither Martinez and Leno is demanding a departure, Macey might think that it is time, at the age of 25, to set sail for pastures new (to mix the metaphors).
Mustafi would have every reason for wanting to leave behind the sort of support that Arsenal has had over the last two years, much of which has been directed against him, and many other teams will have noted his extraordinary ability not to be beaten by the opprobrium he has suffered from those who think booing and jeering one’s own team is a good idea.
But, there is a universal problem.
Every club has suffered through the pandemic, and no one knows when all this will end. Yes the clubs are talking about letting part of the crowd back in, in October, but given the way our government is behaving they will also know that they could make all the arrangements to have, perhaps a third of the ground occupied, and then have the government cancel the arrangement half an hour before the gates open.
We might well put players up for sale, but that doesn’t mean anyone will buy them, no matter what the price.
- The Arsenal players were just above average, so who will we buy now?
- Every FA Cup record you might care to imagine now belongs to Arsenal*
- Arsenal to slaughter 3 wild animals buy 11 players and keep one.
- The value of the Arsenal players, and the Arsenal team
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP