By Sir Hardly Anyone
There really are some unusual stories circulating at the moment: like the notion that Serge Gnabry could be returning to Arsenal.
He was one of those players who had looked to be utterly extraordinary when he first burst onto the scene. He had joined as a 16 year old and most of us saw him for the first time in 2013/14. Then unbelievably Arsenal thought that sending him to West Bromwich Albion for 2015/16 was a good idea. WBA at the time was being run by awful Tony Pulis, the man whose true colours were revealed when the court ordered him to pay Crystal Palace £3.7 million for fraudulent misrepresentation. His last spell in management was a one month residency at Sheffield Wednesday. He lasted ten games before the owner kicked him out and called his appointment “a mistake”.
Now 26, Gnabry played 45 games for Bayern Munich last season but he is approaching the final year of his contract, so it is the time when another move could be on. However, given the apparent authoritarianism inside the Arsenal regime these days I wonder if he could fit in with Arteta. Although one report suggests he is open to the idea of bringing Gnabry back to Arsenal.
Real Madrid are said to have been interested but have now backed away. And Bayern don’t seem to be troubled with the notion of having Gnabry play with them for another year before going on a free, as Herbert Hainer (chair of the supervisory board at Bayern) said recently.
“We’re in the fortunate position that we don’t have any economic hardships,” Speaking of Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski, both of whom will be out of contract next season he added, “[Free transfers] are nothing out of the ordinary these days. We just got a player from Ajax [Noussair Mazraoui] on a free transfer.”
So maybe not Gnabry, and looking around the transfer stories I saw this one which seemed challenging: “Arteta’s axings haven’t always gone to plan” – which concluded that “Emiliano Martinez was allowed to leave and has since thrived at Aston Villa.”
Yes it was true that he was “allowed” to leave, and the transfer fee was said to be “up to £20m” seemingly depending on the number of games he got.
But Martinez’ reputation was utterly damaged when he flew to Brazil in breach of covid rules and turned out for his country in a match. That match was abandoned after three minutes as health officials came onto the pitch to remove Martinez of Aston Villa plus Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham from the pitch for flagrant breaches of Covid protocols.
Martinez played 37 games for Villa last season, unusually for a keeper picking up four yellow cards. The club let in 54 goals and ended up 14th in the league, while Arsenal came in fifth – which suggests that Arsenal do have the better of the deal.
Ramsdale, to me, looks much more authoritative and has shown no tendency to fly around the world breaking covid regulations at a whim. So on what basis did this transfer procedure with Martinez go wrong? He plays with a team that is much poorer than Arsenal on the pitch, gets involved in illegal travel during covid, and we made a significant profit on his sale.
The decision to get rid of Martinez when Villa came along waving the cash is hard to criticise when the facts are considered, and so of late the media has tried to move elsewhere as with the headline William Saliba sends emphatic message to Mikel Arteta after dispute over Arsenal future
That story tells us that “manager and player may have been at loggerheads over the latter’s future”. “May” is probably the operative word here, given that the player is quoted as saying, “I will be there for pre-season with Arsenal. I have played zero matches with Arsenal and I want to show them what I’m made of and have the chance to play for the supporters and for this big club.”
Concerning the situation, Arteta said of Saliba, “He has to come back,” (according to RMC Sport). “He has the experience and the environment necessary to be competitive with us. If he had stayed with us this year, with a match of Premier League a week, with Ben White and Gabriel, he wouldn’t have had half the playing time he had with Marseille, that’s for sure.
However the Express has used the situation to launch another tirade against Arsenal quoting Gabby Agbonlahor as saying, “Arsenal need two centre-halves who are no-nonsense and have both got speed. For me, Gabriel and Saliba would be my starters next season. With Ben White, I think Brighton are laughing at getting the fee they got for him because he’s not good enough.”
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