We are now officially in the midst of the dead zone of Arsenal’s preseason between their first games in Sydney and Shanghai, followed this weekend by their first Emirates Cup match against Benfica. Typically a strong preseason team, the results for Arsenal so far have been uneven. Despite winning their first 3 matches, include one against their European Bogey, Bayern Munich on penalties. But of course, as often is the way with Arsenal fans, a loss to Chelsea, their first or the preseason, has already sowed the seeds of doubt inside the minds of the more skeptical Gooners.
Perhaps the most surprising and/or worrying aspect of the last week to Arsenal fans has been the relative quietness on the transfer front. Arsene Wenger made a point of diving much quicker into the market this summer, and the initial return of Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette presented some positive business for the club. However, since the club left for the Far East, rival’s Manchester City have started spending gargantuan sums of money, while Chelsea and Manchester United themselves have started to dip into their transfer coffers. In light of the Sky Blue’s moves in particular, suddenly Arsene Wenger’s plan of making one more, possibly two, marquee signings suddenly doesn’t look to be quite enough to some for a legitimate title challenge.
If there is any recent player whose treatment by the club has flown so directly in the face of the club’s values as Lucas Perez’s, I have yet to encounter him. Already fuming at his gross mismanagement and lack of opportunities year, Lucas was delivered yet another blow from the club as he found out from the team website that his number 9 shirt had been stripped and given to the newly arrived Frenchman.
I would like to be clear about something: I am absolutely gutted for him. Every single time Lucas found his way into the team, his play drew notice. With his choppy, quick strides and assured technique, Lucas looked to be a perfect supplemental piece in attack for the Gunners. Upon entering his first match for the club, he immediately showed a natural understanding of the way the club liked to play, showing a real feel for the team’s linkup play and pass and move philosophy. That he would go on to make so few appearances, especially in the middle of winter when many of his teammate’s attacking form had all but evaporated.
For the second time in Lucas’ career, he has left his boyhood club Deportivo la Coruna for bigger and better things. Twice he left a situation in which he was a team leader and adored by his local fans for a role in which he struggled to adapt to his new team and living accommodations. Though it looks like Lucas will be rewarded for his previous service with a 10 year contract and offer to stay on staff after retirement, it would have been a treat to see the humble and hardworking striker come good at the Emirates.
In the news this week are reports that two of Arsenal’s most highly thought of England internationals could be on their way out. For Jack Wilshere, who has been hearing his name linked to a host of clubs interested in his services, the preference would be to stay in England with his international place for from secure. Despite reports emerging last week of interest from the Turkish League, it is believed that West Ham may be the preferred destination for the midfielder. Given Arsene Wenger’s stance as this summer began about being reluctant to the point of outright refusal if another club in the Premier League is interested, Wilshere might be lucky to have his wish granted. The apparent amenability to an intra-league sale speaks volumes, as either Wenger respect Wilshere too much to deny his wishes, or he has so little respect left for what his former golden boy still has left to offer a football club. Neither was how his career should have gone, but a move elsewhere and a middling career may be all that awaits the talented midfielder. Arsenal are hoping to receive at least £20 million for him.
Elsewhere, it has been reported that Calum Chambers may also be about the leave the club
Crystal Palace are the interested party, but a £25 million valuation is inviting consternation from the middling side. Given the absurd prices being paid in England, particularly for British born players who help allow the team to keep a full squad by meeting the “homegrown” designation, the price seems almost like a steal.
With good size and smooth ball handing ability, Chambers was supposed to be a part of Arsenal’s backline for many years to come. However, an initial run of games at fullback, nor the best fit for him, did not yield the best results for both he and the club. However, as Middlesbrough fans may be tempted to admit, Chambers was a star of one of the stingiest back lines last season, and I still believe he has a place at Arsenal should he choose to fight for it. Arsenal could do a hell of a lot worse than a back line of the future lead by Mustafi, Chambers and Rob Holding
Rapid Fire Rumours!
Recently, there have been a couple of shocking reports linking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with yet another move away from the club. The alleged interested partiy? Stoke City. Apparently Mark Hughes still has dreams of “Stokelona”: you know, a nice modest interpretation of the world’s most boring team. Except now, with players like Arnautovic and Shaquiri, they aren’t, and the arrival the Ox would make them even more potent in attack. Still not going to happen though.
If I were to ask you why Alexis Sanchez still has yet to sign a contract with Arsenal, chances are wages are in the top 2 reasons. With that in mind, I am not sure if the latest reports are the result of reporters trying to convince themselves their theories are correct or if they are actually true. Apparently, Alexis wants to go to Manchester City so bad that he is willing to take a pay cut. Oh, ok sure. If you can’t win the title where you are, try and make it easier? Still, before the Chilean makes his ‘“dream move” someone needs to explain him that a soon to be 30 year old, diminutive winger whose game is predicated on quickness will not be of interest to City next year, giving the obnoxious level of talent already in the squad. He must realize that no other club loves him, needs him or wants him more in the whole world. Unless of course PSG want to offer a THIRD player in part exchange, in addition to Lucas Moura and Blaise Mathieu.
Arsenal are once again reportedly on the trail of 25 year old Nice midfielder, Jean-Michael Seri. The late bloomer was a stud in Ligue 1 last season, and his 7 goals and 9 assists imply he would have for more impact that Francis Coquelin or Mohammed Elneny. While Seri would represent a fine signing for Arsenal, his experience in top flight football is limited for someone of his age, and any mistake made on the market now by one of England’s biggest clubs would be an expensive on.
Finally, depending on who you ask, Thomas Lemar is closer than ever to becoming an Arsenal player for a bid of between £45 and £55 million. Or he is not going to move at all, according to Monaco Vice President Vadim Vasilyev. Whichever you believe, it has been widely accepted that outside of the pipe dream that was Kylian Mbappe (rumours to be signing for Real Madrid for £161 million!) Lemar has been Wenger’s priority target. Hopefully the team can pull this move off too, given depths of his talents.