‘I’ve pressed pause, Arsenal haven’t.’
by Mike McDonald
I have 9 summer thoughts including an explanation for Arsenal’s transfer dealings.
Let’s start with the latest twitter angst…. why have we not signed players yet?
1. Lack of signings explained
Complaining about a lack of transfers in preseason is a little bit like complaining because you don’t see your Christmas presents under the tree before Christmas Day.
Logic tells me that if I really want let’s say, Zaha, then I would be a fool to sign Carrasco just because I want all my business done at the beginning of July.
Secondly, if Zaha is attainable then because we don’t have an endless pot of gold then perhaps we can’t decide on our box to box midfielder until we know if we are spending £60M or £30M on a winger. If we spend £30M then perhaps we BUY Ceballos rather than Ceballos on loan.
The same goes for sales.
Perhaps if we are able to sell Mkhi and Ozil then we get an additional £40M which means we have enough to buy Meunier as a RB option rather than Cedric Soares for £15M less.
It looks to me like we are trying to focus on the most important areas (CB and LB) with the money we have and the other ‘needs’ (WF, CM, RB) will have to wait until outgoings occur which could be the very end of the window.
Thankfully the end of the window isn’t 2 weeks into the season! That will help Arsenal to get organized.
As mentioned in my previous blog, the upside of the delay in signings (and late returning players) is that we will be forced to play some of the loanees/Academy players. In the case of Bielik, Chambers, Nelson, Willock, Smith Rowe and Nketiah this could save us from going into the market in certain areas.
Whatever is the truth behind what’s going on, it’s clearly a tangled operation.
So, I can get upset because in an ideal world I want a centre back, left back, box to box midfielder, back up striker and a winger RIGHT NOW or I could understand the reality of this situation and accept that patience is key.
3. The Ramsey replacement
As we have almost no midfielders available for at least half of pre season then almost by default there are 3 current players that could benefit.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles may get to play in his natural position. I really hope so. On one hand he almost has to due to ElNeny, Torreira and Guendouzi coming back late.
The only conundrum is that we don’t have a right back (apart from Jenkinson) either so he may have to play there instead.
Smith Rowe and Willock are the other two.
All three of these players could get significant minutes whether Emery values them or not. This gives opportunity which may lead to Arsenal not being quite so concerned about finding a player from outside the club to replace Aaron Ramsey.
4. Chambers and Bielik or Chambers or Bielik
Does Emery see Chambers as a valuable squad player or a very saleable asset?
I’ve not heard of one rumour regarding an exit.
Will he play Chambers at RB pre season? Is that a long term thought?
Will he contest the CB option?
Is it too wild to think that Saliba is our only CB signing and Emery will just sell Mustafi and use Sokratis plus one of Kos, Holding, Mavropanos, Monreal, Bielik or perhaps Chambers until Saliba puts on the jersey?
Is Chambers a Torreira alternative?
What is fascinating is that he is the ultimate squad player yet also the player that we don’t really NEED to ‘start’ games and so maybe becomes one of our most saleable assets!
Bielik is similar.
He could play CB, DM or CM.
He doesn’t yet have the value to command a £20M + fee like Chambers.
Either way, I’d not just keep him, I’d start him in a midfield three as the DM.
Poland getting knocked out of the U-21’s might be the accidental piece of luck that Bielik needs to break into a pre-season midfield where only Xhaka is a first team regular.
5. Right Back
Can you figure out who is going to play right back during pre-season?
Apparently we are trying to offload Jenkinson. Lichsteiner has gone. Bellerin is not ready. AMN will probably be needed in midfield. Osei-Tutu has gone on loan.
I played right back for Tring Tornadoes once when Liam Higby went home because his Mum found cigarettes in his boot bag at the age of 10.
I’m playing right back for Arsenal this season.
If you want to apply to be my back up, you have to follow me, retweet everything I ever put out AND sneak a lifetimes supply of sausage rolls across the border.
It’s gonna be Mustafi. You know it.
Maybe Callum will save the day.
I still say sign Dani Alves. Makes all kinds of sense.
6. No winger signing yet, please!
Reiss Nelson looked a completely different player during his appearance for the U-21’s.
He looked so hungry and willing to defend. These were my two reservations this time last year.
Add this to his undoubted natural talent, Arsenal’s desperate need for individual brilliance and his ability to play on the wing or in a ‘10’ position then we have a potential gem.
I’d also add that as an Arsenal fan who is probably thrilled to be back amongst English speakers, that his motivation should be higher than most any other squad player!
If we plan on playing Auba and Laca plus ONE winger then Nelson may prove to be better than any signing we could afford.
Add in Bukayo Saka, Xavier Amaechi and the imminent signing of Gabriel Martinelli then I’m totally convinced that we need to press pause on signing a winger until we see what these four can offer.
My fear is that Mkhi and Ozil will take their minutes away in pre-season and then we will sell them/not play them and will have upset them. I really hope not.
7. Lacazette sad if Aubameyang leaves?
So, if we do end up selling Aubameyang to raise funds for others I’m wondering if that sours Lacazette’s Arsenal experience?
I’d imagine that the main and maybe only reason that these two CL level players will stay at Arsenal is the opportunity to play with each other.
If one leaves, does that tip the other one over the edge?
Sure hope not, but don’t discount human emotion when it comes to decision making from top players.
8. Next seasons formation
I hope we go to a 4-3-3 with wingers.
My pre-season concern in regards to formation is that we don’t have enough midfielders to rotate through 45 mins each to play a 3 man midfield until the returning players show up.
I fully understand that pre- season is about fitness but I believe that adaptation to formation is a bigger priority.
I’m hoping that we don’t play Auba AND Laca pre season, then one leaves and we change formation last minute. Let’s not do that.
9. Three conspiracy theories
Will the fact that Kroenke has just been hit with a $24M bill lawsuit affect our summer?
Is there a small chance that we will be playing CL this season if and when City get banned?
I fully understand that they will appeal and it will most likely not affect this coming season but have Arsenal been tipped off that there is a chance that we get in this coming season?
If so, are we on ‘transfer pause’ because we might be getting a CL windfall and have the opportunity to buy better players who only want CL football?
Is the ‘I’m leaving for sure but not telling you where’ Nicholas Pepe thing because Adidas (his sponsor) are unveiling him at our kit launch?
Probably not, but a fun dream!
I decided to ‘press pause’ on my excitement and desire for everything to get fixed and just relax and watch.
At best we are not going to see our starting 11 until the very end of July anyway.
I also have to understand that Arsenal Football Club aren’t on pause. They are active. It’s clearly a puzzle so getting upset just shows a lack of understanding of how this really works or dare I say it…. intentional anger knowing extreme views get clicks 😳
Let’s be mature.
Have you followed @mike_mmcdonald and @GunnersTown?
Former Highbury regular. Moved to TN, USA in ’99. Married with 3 kids. Coached in UK and US for 27 years.
Mike McDonald Soccer Academy in Morristown TN, Olympic Development coach, Regional Premier League Champion.