This week there were a number of positive stories for Arsenal fans this column could focus on. The victory over Southampton provided a few narrow paths, for now, fifth place Arsenal to sneak into the Top Four. Mesut Ozil liked a Tweet that asked him to stay at Arsenal, implying that he wants to sign a new contract. Kieran Gibbs mentioned that he likes the new 3-4-3, which reminds us Gibbs still is under contract with Arsenal.
Instead, I want to focus on something that actually hasn’t happened and may not happen. That is the glut of news stories linking Arsenal to other players this summer. This in itself is nothing spectacular or interesting. Agents love nothing more than to leak information about their clients to the newspapers and websites to drive up their wages. Arsenal, having high revenues, a large fanbase, and high aspirations, are a common club to link to players looking to move. Arsene Wenger has fueled this kind of speculation by noting during the season that he almost signed a number of top-notch players including N’Golo Kante.
Maybe it is Stockholm Syndrome, but this year I am more encouraged than ever with the suggestions of player signings. Primarily it is the players with whom the club is linked and that begins with Kylian Mbappe. The Monaco young star is the kind of player that every club wants and the projected transfer fee reflects that. According to reports, Arsenal are willing to offer double the transfer fee they paid for Mesut Ozil – which is their current highest fee – and build the club around him in a central attacking position. This does read too much like an agent trying to drive up his client’s price, but often we Arsenal fans are not the club mentioned as a candidate to land one of the world’s most promising players. One of the reasons the Ozil signing was so enjoyable was the fact that Arsenal came from seemingly (relatively) nowhere to acquire the German. The reported desire to spend like a sailor on shore leave also runs counter to the usual conservative spending of the club. This summer, that conservatism would have a financial reasoning if Arsenal miss out on the Top Four and their regular Champions League cash infusion.
It is all just silly rumour until it is not, and Arsenal fans have been burned by the clubs promises to spend big and smart in the past. It’s just that this time, rumors like this feel a little different and raise a little more hope of serious investment in the senior squad throughout.