It is sometimes difficult to believe that we have only just wrapped up the post-season internationals. When scouring around for new stories gaining traction and additional transfer rumours, the sort of disparate connections being made at such an early stage in the window suggest that legitimate news is either already difficult to come by, or perhaps this offseason will truly turn out to be one of the whackiest in memory. Whichever the case may be, Arsenal will be making changes this summer to the squad in an attempt to make a legitimate run at the title next season.
After the initial wave of excitement that had even pessimistic Gooners believing that something big was sure to happen, fans have now divided once again into their more familiar schools of thought: that Arsenal will challenge for the title next season after a productive summer, or same old Arsenal, nothing ever changes. Though there has been no major shakeup up with the club’s coaching or backroom staffs, it has at least been apparent to some that Arsene Wenger is trying to wrap most of his transfer business earlier in the summer.
The Sanchez Saga
Until the matter is resolved once and for all this summer, to expect a week without a new Alexis Sanchez rumour. This week, it seems that Bayern Munich is considering showing a bit more respect for Arsenal’s negotiation team, with a bid closer to his true value of £50 million, double that of what they were said to be offering in initial reports. Though I am still unwilling to believe that Bayern Munich, a team with some of the best talent in the world, is so ready to pull out all of the stops and make him their highest ever paid player, at least the money being talked about is less insulting than the apparent low-ball offer made or considered earlier this summer. If Alexis really does leave, it will almost certainly be to another club in another league, not a Premier League rival.
Despite this, however, it seems that won’t stop Chelsea from apparently joining the war for the Chilean. The latest reports suggest Alexis is ready to pack up and move across town to join a team he feels is in a better position to challenge for the title. Even if this is true, it would still require Arsene Wenger be willing to strengthen a club he both despises and is trying to catch. These latest reports linking Sanchez to Chelsea have come from a story in the spring that stated Alexis Sanchez loved living in London but was ready to play for a club that competes for a title. If this turns out to be true, and Arsenal really do sell Sanchez to such a bitter rival, Wenger and his staff will never hear the end of it from concerned fans. The important thing to remember is that these are still just rumours, but to say the reports are not worrisome would simply be a lie.
Haven’t you heard? Laurent Koscielny might be off to French “mythical” club Marseille this summer. Or rather, that at least is how some would prefer to represent a quote attributed to Arsenal’s Vice Captain. In reality, before speaking so glowingly of the prestigious Marseille, Koscielny first qualified the statement by saying he was tremendously happy in North London and had even recently extended his contract. Taken in full, the quote reads like a politely affirmative declaration that he is staying. When stripped of its qualifier and used as a click-baiting “news” report, it sounds far worse. In my view, a move back to France at the top of his powers, no matter how strong French football has been would be foolish for Koscielny. Not only is he the club’s best defender, he is also one of the leaders in the side. He is a starter for one of the biggest clubs in the world, and until that changes, expect to see him not go anywhere.
Last season’s ridiculously inflated prices being paid by Premier League teams for players has not seemed to carry over to how other clubs value players already in England. In 2001, Juventus paid over £30 million for future Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon to man their goal. As he finally looks to hang up the gloves, Juventus appear to have identified Arsenal keeper Szczesny for a knee knocking, painfully exorbitant fee of- ~£5 million. I do not mean to suggest that he is in any way almost as good as Buffon was when he moved to the Old Lady, but in this current market, it is downright insulting. And Arsenal may yet take it. With the exception of the annual marquee player auction used to finance the new stadium, Arsenal have not been particularly strong at negotiating a fee for outgoing players. The most recent example is last season’s sale of Serge Gnabry- coming off a breakout summer, Gnabry became a hot property as he decided to leave in search of more game time. His resultant sale to Werner Bremen was for under £5 million, a number that seems awfully low for a player of his talent. This summer however, I believe we have seen the second phase of his two part plan last season to end up at Bayern Munich come to fruition.
Lacazette And The Dynamic Duo?
Another story that refuses to die. One of my favorite transfer rumours this week was that Arsenal want to sign Alexandre Lacazette AND Monaco duo Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar. I do not for one second believe Arsenal would look to sign all three unless they lose Alexis this summer, but I do believe whomever started this story is having quite a laugh over it. Arsene Wenger himself has said that the club will be looking to bring in a relatively small number of players, but these players would only be of top quality. It is theoretically possible for Wenger to sign all three, but the most likely scenario is that he will have to pick one of them to sign.
A name that has been linked to Arsenal in the past, Calhanoglu would offer some intriguing abilities to the club’s collection of attackers. Calhanoglu has shown himself to be one of the most capable dead ball specialists in world football, with lengthy highlight videos to prove it. Though he isn’t a particularly fluid athlete, his ability to manipulate a football to his will is similar to that of talisman Mesut Ozil’s. Unfortunately however, he has similar character concerns about his effort and his 4 month ban for breach of contract could also be cause for concern. As Calhanoglu is looking to take the next step in his career from Bayern Leverkusen, he will most likely be looking for playing time assurances from his next club. Though his has a release clause of €32.5 million, Chelsea had earlier tabled a bid for half of that, so it is possible that Leverkusen would let him go for less. Not a likely additional but a very capable one. And seriously, watch some of his free kicks, they’re incredible
It looks like Olivier Giroud may still leave in a £20 million move to a West Ham. The hope is that he is convinced to stay on for one more season as a super sub before moving on, given that his skill set is unique and not easy to replace. He has never been enough as a primary striker, but he is the perfect substitute. It feels like he would be more likely to move back to France, but at 30 years old, his time for playing in a top league is running out, so perhaps a move elsewhere in England is in the cards.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain look set to turn down Liverpool’s offer and sign a new contract with Arsenal for around £100,000 a week. This should be welcome news to Arsenal fans who have been very afraid that Chambo was warming to the idea of a lateral move to a rival. He enjoyed a breakout campaign last season, so with perhaps another season in which he stays healthy, he has a chance to become one of the best players in the league.
Fear not Gooners! There is so much still to come this summer, and the team are not done yet! Tune in Sunday for a fresh batch of rumours and a look at how these stories have moved over the weekend!