During last summer’s transfer window, when speculation was at its highest (AFC still hadn’t signed anyone anybody had ever heard of) Arsene was asked a direct question about Cesc Fabregas and said: “he won’t be going anywhere this season” or words to that effect. But he said it in a way that made it seem fairly obvious that he was still very much in contact with him, and was probably still someone who Cesc turned to for advice. It is entirely likely that that is the case, and even more likely that a number of ex-AFC players keep in close contact with him. If they do, then it is also reasonable to assume that Arsene has a better idea than most of which players are happy where they are, and which ones are looking for a move. He has, if you like, his spies everywhere. I suspect he also talks to his current players, many of whom will have friends in other clubs throughout the world, who no doubt also keep him informed about possible movements. He will also (as will all the managers) be contacted regularly by agents, and will have many conversations with those other managers. This is all pretty obvious, so when he says things like “it will be a very quiet January market because of the World Cup” or “not much serious business will be done until July 15th” he probably knows what he is talking about. After all, this will be his fifth World Cup since managing Arsenal, and writing that makes me pause and think for a moment.
It may not be what people (or the press) are wanting to hear, but it does seem to me that if more people actually listened to what Arsene says (and tried to understand the sense of what he is saying) then they would not only be better off, but would also come closer to understanding how the professional game actually works. I could be wrong but few, if any, major transfers have been made yet. A number have been touted: everyone to Manchester United for example, Costa to Chelsea, Pogba to PSG – but I don’t think any ting has yet been signed. And why would they have been yet? Why would an agent sell before the World Cup if he knows a bold show by his player will push up the price? Why would a club sign a player before knowing that he had come through a serious competition with limbs unscathed and free from tropical diseases (Costa couldn’t even make it to the end of his League season, and hamstrings are not guaranteed to ever heal as good as new). No, it seems to me that the only deals that are likely to be done now are either the little ones that are unlikely to impact any of the major European clubs, or the ones where the agents are desperate to offload shop-soiled goods. Caveat emptor.
But journalists need copy, websites need hits, and agents need to get their goods into the market place, so the rumours are circulating with dizzying pace. Each fan will have their own ideas as to what their club needs, and each will have their own wish list. Some already seem to know the details of each and every contract, and the Twitterspehre is awash with release clauses, buy-back options and player-for-player deals. From my Arsenal perspective I have already been told which players are definitely leaving and which need to be sent out on loan (I always enjoy the serious tone people adopt when they tell me that, for example, “Jenkinson needs a loan-spell” sounding for all the world like a 1950s factory owner sending his son and heir for a spell on the shop floor. I know which positions need filling, who isn’t really Arsenal quality, which are “useful squad players” and, perhaps most bizarrely, exactly how much money the club has to spend – and that’s not even counting the extra revenue from the 3% price hike.
Except, of course I don’t know any of these things, and I don’t believe anyone else really does either. It doesn’t stop me thinking about them, and I too have some players that I hardly dare to dream might one day come our way – of course I do. But I also want to see some of our home-growns thrive. I want to see Jenknson, not on loan, but playing regularly. I want to see Wilshere become the player he has already shown he can be. I want Giroud to score 30 League goals next season. I want Ozil to weave more of his magic and I want Theo to become The Arsenal legend I know he will. And so for now I will continue to enjoy the Cup we have won, and get through the time between now and the Emirates Cup as best I can. I won’t bother claiming to know what is likely to happen on the transfer front, because I really don’t know – but I will take comfort from the fact that the manager probably does. Arsene knows, and that’s got such a nice ring to it that I’m surprised no-one’s ever used it before.
Today’s article was brough to us by @foreverheady .