In “ARSENE WONGA”, the Mirror says Arsenal’s manger Arsene Wenger (geddit?!) “finally admits he treats the club’s money as if it was my own”. No, he’s not admitting to embezzlement. Wenger just says he’s cautions with spending tons of cash on players.
Of course, Wenger should spend, spend, spend because the Mirror has already told us this will be his last season at Arsenal.
Wenger has been quoted in Game Changers: Inside English Football, written by former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley: ”
“I personally believe the only way to be a manager is to spend the club’s money as if it were your own, because if you don’t do that you’re susceptible to too many mistakes. You make big decisions and I believe you have to act like it’s your own money — like you’re the owner of the club and you can identify completely with the club, because if you don’t do that I think you cannot go far.”
Some revelation there. At least it will be to the Mirror readers who didn’t see the paper’s story from one year ago:
Arsenal manager admits being tight with transfer cash because he feels club BELONGS to him
He has often been accused by his club’s frustrated fans of treating Arsenal’s money as if it is his own…. Now, for the first time, Arsene Wenger has unashamedly pleaded guilty to the charge and given a rare insight into the hurt he feels when his work is questioned at the Emirates Stadium.
As ever, Wenger was not talking with the Mirror, but with a magazine in France.
The Frenchman said: “I’ll give myself merit for one thing: I’ve always treated Arsenal as if it belonged to me. I have sometimes been criticised for it — because I am not enough of a spender, not carefree enough… My great pride will be to be able to say the day that I leave, that I am leaving behind a good team, a healthy situation and a club capable of performing in the future. I could have said to myself: ‘I am here for four or five years, we win everything’, [then] I leave and leave the club on the verge of bankruptcy. For me, consistency at the highest level is the true sign of great clubs.”
When he ‘admits’ it to the Mirror, that might be the end of the story.
Daily Mirror, July 28:”Arsenal target Shkodran Mustafi has a release clause of €50million, MirrorFootball can reveal, but Valencia would sell him for half that as they look to recoup losses from missing out on the Champions League.”
Valencia are willing to sell a player worth €50million for €25million. That’s just over £21m.
Daily Mirror, August 11: “Muatfi has a £42m buy-out in his contract and Valencia are ready to accept around £30m, but Arsenal have yet to agree a fee”
Sorry, Arsenal. The fee’s gone up.
Daily Mirror, August 13: “Injury-hit Arsenal set to recall Mathieu Debuchy for Liverpool visit to fill in for trio of absent centre-halves.”
Arsenal have no need to buy anyone new. Debuchy to the rescue. (He was not picked.)
Daily Mirror, August 15: “Arsenal move for Shkodran Mustafi stalls as Valencia demand £25million for German defender”
Is that around £30m?
Daily Mirror, August 16: “Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Jeremy Mathieu emerges as Arsene Wenger’s top target.”
Arsenal no longer want Mustafi. It’s Mathieu for the Gunners.
Daily Mirror, August 17: “Arsenal are hoping to sign Mustafi for around £20million… Valencia have been holding out for closer to £30million for Mustafi.”
Wasn’t it £25m they wanted?
Daily Mirror: August 20: “Liverpool are in full negotiations with Valencia over the German’s availability and could beat the Gunners to the deal.”
Go for it, Liverpool. Arsenal don’t want him.
Daily Mirror, August 22: “Arsene Wenger has been quoted a staggering £50million for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi.”
Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal captain now working for the Manchester City project, is critical of the Gunners. He tells The Telegraph.
“In the last five or six years, Arsenal went with more of this type of technical players. The Invincibles had it all. Now when I watch Arsenal, they play good football, but I just have a feeling they are missing something – the physical presence, the personality. The team is not doing as well as it used to and you need to win football matches. They’ve been disappointing, losing games they should have won.”
Yes. Yes. All true. But what Vieira fails to mention is money. Manchester City, for instance, are doing rather better than they were when Vieira’s Arsenal were top of the pile. Back then the idea of City winning a cup was a joke, a pretty good one for those who can recall the brilliant banner displayed at Manchester United – the one that counted the years since City had won something.
“I’m disappointed not to have ex-Arsenal players working at Arsenal. It is good for the young players could see a Thierry Henry, a [Freddie] Ljungberg, or a [Martin] Keown who have been at the club a good few years working in the academy, or working somewhere. I think they can do it a bit more, players want to do it but do not have the opportunity. I don’t understand it, the perfect example is Ajax. You see all the old players working for the club, on the field, in the office – the door is always open for them – but Arsenal don’t do it and I don’t know why.”
Well, Henry was at Arsenal but left because, reportedly, Wenger wasn’t happy with him pontificating on Arsenal players’ flaws in his other job for Sky Sports. Freddie Ljungberg coaches the U15s. Keown did coach at Arsenal but now works as pundit on the BBC.
The Sun says “Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Bould are the only former players on their staff.” No. The current Arsenal set-up also includes Kwame Ampadu.
Vieira does not work at Arsenal. Might he be a little bitter? In 2009, Wenger explained why he had let Vieira leave the club for Juventus:
“When Cesc Fàbregas was 18, 19, I would play him in a 4–4–2 with Patrick Vieira and I saw it did not work. Then I had the decision to make about letting Patrick go, because Gilberto Silva and Vieira worked, Fabregas and Silva worked, but I could not play Fàbregas and Vieira. But Fàbregas was 19 and if he did not play I knew he would want to go, so we risked destroying everything, all the work we had put into this player.”
And who says a great player makes for a good coach? Not Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson…
Leicester City…can feel aggrieved they weren’t awarded a late penalty. Hector Bellerin appeared to trip substitute Ahmed Musa inside the penalty area but referee Mark Clattenburg, who had earlier waved away City’s appeals for a penalty after Danny Drinkwater went down in the area, again said no.
There was drama on 42 minutes after Drinkwater appeared to have been tripped by Koscielny as he burst into the box following Cech blocking a Vardy burst, but referee Mark Clattenburg decided it was a fair challenge – much to the displeasure of the vociferous home fans and their execrable paper clappers that seem to be needlessly encroaching on our game. It has to be said the referee made the right decision – just.
Only one penalty claim is mentioned.
Drinkwater claimed a penalty, but replays suggested Mark Clattenburg made the right call.
The loose ball fell to Danny Drinkwater, and while the midfielder appeared to be tripped by Laurent Koscielny in the area, there was nothing given.
A draw is probably the right result overall, though Leicester should certainly have had a penalty in the 88th minute.
Leicester City had two penalty appeals turned down – one in the first half, which he [the referee] got right by ruling that Koscielny poked the ball away from the feet of Drinkwater. But in the second half he got it horribly wrong. Substitute Musa skipped past Bellerin and the Spanish defender brought the winger down with a clumsy challenge.
The Star was watching a different match:
Shame referee Mark Clattenburg got booed off by home fans. He’d hardly put a foot wrong but has to be said his decision to turn down penalty appeals when Musa was clipped by Holding near the end, looked dubious.
The Evening Standardreports that LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole, 35, “says he wants to work for Chelsea after his playing career is over rather than Arsenal.”
It would take a touch of lunacy for Arsenal to offer Cole a job, presumably one tutoring young players in the way of modern football. As he says:
“I enjoy scouting, watching the young lads come through. I have done a little for my agent, but I’d like to do something a bit more serious. I’d love to go back to work at Chelsea somewhere, somehow.”
It was Cole, of course, who provided the words that more than any others sum up the greed rife in modern football. In My Defence, Cole wrote:
“Ash! Are you listening?” said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan [his agent]. “I’m here in the office and David Dein is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?”
When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.”
All yours, Chelsea. (Best to sort of Ashley’s fee first, though.)
That Arsenal are looking fore a centre-back is daily news in the Press. Arsène Wenger’s side have been talking with Atlético Madrid over Uruguayan stopper José Giménez.
Is he the man to full the voice caused by long-term injuries to Gabriel and Per Mertesacker? Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi was supposed to arrive at the Emirates this week. But there has been no sighting of the German international.
Although the Telegraph says: “Shkodran Mustafi to have medical on Monday after £29.5m fee agreed.” It also says former Manchester United player Jonny Evans is “free to make Emirates move”. Why would Arsenal want him?
They need something fast. Arsenal look soft. The opening-day defeat against Liverpool showed that the Gunners are no longer a tough act.
Richard Williams sees a bigger problem:
Wenger’s past decade has also demonstrated that, in football at least, good husbandry can be an overrated virtue. Arsenal built a 60,000‑seat home at a cost of £390m. But where once they had a proper football ground, vibrant with history and designed to allow the fans’ passion to influence the mood of a match, now they have an elegant bowl where the emotions are easily disengaged and the most familiar one is dissatisfaction.
“If Mertesacker and Gabriel had not been injured in pre-season, we would have been less under pressure to sign a defender but once you are under pressure everybody knows you are, so it makes you weaker. We have been in the market a long time but, if you look around in Europe, all my friends I call are all looking for centre-backs but they cannot find them.
“That is why we also buy young centre-backs to develop, because when you have one or two of the quality to make it to the top it is fantastic because it is a position that is difficult to find, especially at the big clubs.”
True enough, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding, who partnered so ineffectively in Arsenal’s opening-day defeat to a pretty ordinary Liverpool side, point to the future. But neither look like win-hungry tough nuts in the mould of Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Steve Bould.
Only one game into the season and Arsenal look like disappointing all over again.
Modern football fans are in crisis. Get a load of the Arsenal fan who bought a replicate top and had the name “MAHREZ” stuck across the back. That’s Leicester City player Riyad Mahrez, who still plays for the Premier League champions.
The Metro says, “Asad Balal, a long-suffering Gooner, was clearly confident that Arsene Wenger would swoop in to bring the Le Havre winger to the Emirates and even claimed to have inside information on the Algerian’s move to north London.”
Balal knew nothing, which makes him a good candidate for a career in journalism – at the Metro:
Unabashed by it own dire prediction and reporting, the Metro mocks Balal:
However, Balal was forced into an embarassing [sic] backtrack today after Mahrez signed a new four-year deal with the Foxes and he quickly took to Twitter to jokingly put his Arsenal no.26 shirt up for sale before deleting the tweet and saying he’s sending the shirt to a charity shop.
Embarrassing stuff all round.
PS – buying players is not the same thing as buying players for form a team. The modern fans’ desperation for big-money signings is pathetic.
Transfer balls: Are Arsenal set to sign a new defender? Given the Gunners’ season debut against Liverpool, you’d think hiring another four would be ideal. But the Mil says one is enough, reporting: “Arsenal to sign Shkodran Mustafi for £30m from Valencia on five-year deal in next 48 hours.”
That was published on August 12:
More than 48 hours later, the Mail reported:
As Arsenal haggle over £30m fee for Shkodran Mustafi… will he join Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Co on list of stars Arsene Wenger missed?
In other words, the Mail was utterly wrong.
Today’s Express adds: “Arsenal have not yet bid for Valencia star Shkodran Mustafi.”
Transfer balls: A few days ago, the Express reported that “VALENCIA have already earmarked two candidates to replace Arsenal-bound Shkodran “. The paper talk is of Arsenal being in a state of “crisis”. The club’s three first-choice centre-backs are out for the start of the season. The Indy agrees that Arsene Wenger has found his saviour, reporting yesterday: “Arsene Wenger to complete £28m deal for Shkodran Mustafi next week.”
The Telegraph says Mustafi has “agreed to sign a five-year deal at the Emirates stadium”.
All agreed, then? No. ESPN says today: “Arsenal could turn to Jeremy Mathieu should Shkodran Mustafi deal collapse.” The Sun says that Arsenal could hire Barcelona’s Mathieu to “solve their problems”.
The problem is that when the trio of crocks are fit, buying Mustafi, a German international, will give Arsenal six first-class central defenders, the others being: Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista and Laurent Koscielny. And then there are fullbacks Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy ready to “solve their early-season central defensive crisis” (Mirror).
Just eight first-team players, then, who can play at centre back for Arsenal. Although, according to Il Tempo, Debuchy is on his way to AS Roma.
“It is very challenging but it is as well an opportunity,” Wenger says of the injuries. “All the players, no matter how big they are, they started at some stage [intending] to play at the top level. And top-level sport is about grabbing opportunities. When you get it, you have to be ready.”
“If you want to make everybody happy, then just buy 20 new players and everybody is full of hope until the first game starts and then we’re back to reality… Vibrancy doesn’t make you win games. What makes you win games is the quality of the performance and the quality of your football. You have to focus just on that. It is very difficult in the modern game. There is always demand for new – but new is just new. After six months it’s not new anymore. If every time you don’t win you throw everything out, it is not the best way to win.”
One problem, of course, is that every time Arsenal don’t win they throw nothing out.
Arsenal news: Gabriel injury deepens Arsene Wenger’s defensive crisis
The Mail agrees:
SAMI MOKBEL: Arsenal are in the midst of a fully-blown defensive crisis ahead of the season-opener against Liverpool
The Telegraph agrees:
Arsenal 3 Man City 2: Gabriel injury sparks defensive crisis for Wenger
The Daily Express agrees:
Arsenal News: Germany defender targeted to solve crisis
And the Daily Mirrordoes what it always does and links a shedload of new players with Arsenal:
9 centre-backs Arsenal could turn to after Gabriel injury sees Gunners’ defensive crisis deepen
So are Arsenal in Crisis? Of course not. Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are injured but the Gunners can call on Laurent Koscielny, Calum Chambers, new signing Rob Holding or play left-back Nacho Monreal in the middle.
PS – Special mention to the Sun which wonders: “Could Riyad Mahrez transfer solve Arsenal’s striker crisis?”
Arsenal balls: New Gunners defender Rob Holding says on the Arsenal website that he “grew up” watching Arsenal defensive stalwarts Tony Adams and Martin Keown. Holding – and what a great name for a defender (chalk it down to nominative determinism) – was born 20 September 1995.
Tony Adams made his Arsenal debut on 5 November 1983. His last season at Arsenal was in 2001-2002. Says Holding:
“Growing up I liked to think I modelled my game on Rio Ferdinand, especially the way he played when he was in a partnership with Nemanja Vidic at Manchester United.
“I also watched Arsenal growing up and they had the likes of Tony Adams, Sol Campbell and Martin Keown who are all top-drawer centre halves that I admired and wanted to be like. I just liked how much of a leader they were on the pitch, Tony Adams especially.”
Holding was six years old when he was watching the end-of-the-career Adams teach him leadership skills. The rest of his class at school were watching The Tweenies.
When Arsenal signed Kim Kallstrom in January 2014 it looked like no big deal. The journeyman Swedish midfielder was only on loan from Spartak Moscow. He arrived nursing a bad back injury. Great things were not expected of him. But for Kallstrom playing for Arsenal was a dream come true.
In an era when money is all and players kiss the badge of whichever club pays enough for the honour of hiring them, Kallstrom’s testimony chimes with the fans, most of whom would pay to play for their team.
I look like a boy as I walk across the grass, with the ball under my arm. Well-groomed side-parting, a clean red shirt, white sleeves, and a golden cannon on my breast. I’m a man past thirty years of age, in a boy’s dream.
It’s the semi-final of the English FA cup, against Wigan, with 82,000 people on the stands of Wembley Stadium, among which 50,000 were rooting for us (Arsenal).
They are loud and starving fans that hunger for a title. They haven’t won anything for nine years, which is an eternity for a club that is considered one of the greatest in the World. They have the most loyal fans, Gooners.
By strange and unexpected detours, I’ve ended up at the top club Arsenal, in north London. With straight legs, I bend down and put the ball on the spot. I throw a quick glance at the keeper. I’ve already decided where to place it. I try not to smile.
The moment is here. I’m here – in the middle of the latin motto of the club: “Victoria Concordia Crescit” – “Victory grows through harmony”. I can’t help myself but smile slightly. I haven’t even played half an hour for Arsenal. I debuted against Swansea, for eleven minutes, and now I was substituted on in extra time when it was to be decided.
Fifteen minutes of a footballer’s life, which changed my story.
I got a call from my agent, (former Sweden international) Roger Ljung. ‘Do you want to be loaned out to a club in the Premier League?” “No.” “Do you want to be loaned out to Arsenal?” “YES!”
It was transfer deadline day and a rumour of a new player had leaked. The training facilities were filled with supporters, journalists and television was transmitting live.
When we arrived at Heathrow, we had to drive to a field and switch cars so that no one would recognise the vehicle. Everyone was nice to me, and I get training clothes and number 29. I was sent to a team physician for the obligatory medical exam.
While the physician is going through the tests, I’m sitting in the cafeteria, drinking a cup of washy English coffee. I’m dressed in the club colours, in the civilian outfit of the professional football player, meaning a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
Players pass by on the way to today’s training. I knew a few of them, as they were French, and we small-talk a bit. The physician fetches me, and I’m driven quickly to a hospital for a X-ray exam. Something’s wrong. We return to the training facilities. I’m put in a situation that reminds me of a talent show on television.
I’m standing in front of a jury, in Arsenal clothes, the CD with my X-ray images, and my bad posture.
In front of me sits the team physician, the sporting director, and the powerful manager Arsene Wenger, who has run the club with an iron fist and a low-key attitude for almost 20 years. The physician starts speaking.
He understands that Arsenal is a big thing for me and that my hopes have been lit, but the back problem is too bad, and he’s sorry. He lays down the facts. There are three cases of vertebral fractures, and I’m out for at least 4-6 weeks. I’m shocked – disappointed, but I understood. Against the evidence of the X-ray images, neither boyhood dreams or arguments help. I understand.
‘If you’re injured, you’re injured’, I say, but in truth I was angry as hell. There’s silence in the room. Wenger hasn’t said anything. He hasn’t even looked at his colleagues as they inform me of their logical verdicts.
He thinks for himself. I wait for him to say something. He sighs, and says ‘The transfer windows shuts in a few hours. It’s impossible to find a replacement. Either I take you or no one.’
Surprised, the others turn to the big boss. No one knows how he’ll continue, but they know that his words are law. It’s evident that he has not anchored his decision among the rest of the staff.
Wenger decides. “You’ll stay, heal, and train. I’ll take you when you’re fit.”
Now, the next circus starts. I could follow the events in real time, as the media started writing and friends contacted me.
In spite of a time difference of four hours, and the Russian football association being closed, the transfer was done. The contract was signed in the last hour. I had left Spartak Moscow when everyone was asleep; I was just gone the next morning. I got a few good luck texts, but other than that, Russia was over for the time being.
I train like a mad man in England. I’m good at that. One day at the gym, Wenger stops by. When he enters a room, everybody sort of stops, as if they’re waiting for a signal. He has that effect on people.
I keep peddling on the exercise bike, as I’m trying to beat a certain time. Wenger is watching with his French, slightly casual, yet serious, gaze. We small-talk and we’re on the right track. I felt like I was building confidence with the leader, without having kicked a ball yet.
After five weeks of hard rehab, and the uncertainty whether my back would be restored, I’m suddenly back on the pitch.
It was a long time since the club had won anything, and the British capital is boiling with the tabloids acting as ring-leaders.
We’re favourites against Wigan in the semi-finals, but we only manage to achieve a draw at full-time. The clock ticks, without anyone ending it. I’m sitting on the bench without any personal expectation.
There’s seven minutes left and I’m suddenly substituted for an exhausted Aaron Ramsey. The ref blows the whistle. Now, one of the finalists must be decided by a penalty shootout. A simple and brutal way to end things.
At this point, understanding of the game, tactics, and physical prowess are meaningless. Now, there is only a confused mess of nerves and chance. Penalty shoot-outs can crown kings in football, and always produce a scapegoat. You must score. All the pressure is on the taker.
I hear Wenger shouting in French: “Kim, do you take penalties?” “Yeah, I’d be glad to take one.” “Good. You’re second.”
I decide early where to shoot it. When I walk alone to the spot, in a stadium with three times as many spectators as there are inhabitants of my hometown, Sandviken, I must suppress my smile. It’s a long way to walk across the pitch. I’m relaxed – perhaps happy.
I put the ball on the spot. Now, I just have to back up and find the right distance to the ball, run up, and strike the ball hard and high to the left. Just do what I usually do, what I know, and always have done. I’ve done it a thousand times before, and there’s no nervousness.
The keeper goes early, in the opposite direction of where I had decided to put it. When I watch the penalty on Youtube, the feelings return: the calm and the joy, but I’m surprised where the ball ended up.
The ball ended up in the lower left corner, opposite of how I remembered it. I had decided to put it high to the left, but I remembered it as I actually put it low to the right. I’m confused, but the ball ended up in the net.
We won the final and we’re praised by over 200,000 supporters on the streets of London. Although my contribution was small in the 120-year history of the club, it was a highlight for me.
The greatest fifteen minutes of my life, and it turns out I don’t remember what happened. Where was I in that deciding moment?
Trance, shock, delirium, coma, nervous breakdown, call it whatever you want. The only thing I know for sure is that sports and football are incomprehensible.
That’s why we love it. As long as that penalty continues to end up in the net, my experience is true. I’m sure of it.
To get paid too play football is a dream. To play for a top club is wonderful. Professional footballers should be mindful of one thing: enjoy every moment.
Transfer balls: the BBC website is pretty much a newspaper the British are forced to pay for. And like newspapers, the BBC writes utter drivel about football transfers. This week the Beeb has been talking about Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette:
Yesterday, the BBC reported:
Arsenal have said they are not willing to spend more than £33.7m on Lyon’s France striker Alexandre Lacazette, 25.
One day on and the BBC says:
Arsenal will make an improved £35m bid for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, 25, after having an initial £29.3m offer rejected by the French club.
On Apr 28, 2016, the Daily Express reported that Liverpool FC “are sending an official to close a deal for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi at the weekend”. The weeekend came. The weekend went. Liverpool officials never showed up to sign the German footballer.
Today the Sun says: “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners begin talks with Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi.”
Sky says “Mustafi has a release clause of £42.1m but Sky Germany understand that Arsenal may be able to sign the German for £25.3m plus a further £8.4m in add-ons.”
Big money, then. Or as the Mirror says:
Did “Gunners chief” Ivan Gazidis really says Arsenal are “poor”? Are Arsenal fans “angry”? No. And no. What he said was:
“We can’t afford to outgun competitors that have far more money. We have to be very careful, very selective… We’re run in a self-sustaining way, and a way that we believe in, because we believe it gives us certainty for the future and enables us to plan our future with confidence.
That sounds like sanity.
And what about the spending?
“We’re still active in the market, as are most other clubs, and if we find opportunities that our manager believes can improve our squad and add something to it, we’re certainly going to take those steps.”
As the Mirror spins sensation from sense, The Week says:
Arsenal transfer news: £37m for Riyad Mahrez, Jese Rodriguez next?
The Sunsays Riyad Mahrez will sign for Arsenal “in the next few days”. Rodriguez plays for Real Madrid. He won’t come cheap. And when the shiny strip on the story is rubbed away, beneath it lies no evidence that he will come to Arsenal at all.
Is Arsenal Wenger going to sign a new contract and extend his tenure as Arsenal manager? The BBC leads with that AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is “well-placed to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal”.
The Daily Mirror agrees. It says “Eddie Howe touted as possible Arsene Wenger replacement?”
The Mirror and BBC’s source is the Daily Star.
In an “EXCLUSIVE” David Woods says “Arsenal earmark Englishman as potential Arsene Wenger replacement”. Arsenal fans should be pleased. Howe is erudite, young, talented, a winner and a fast learner. But on what is the story of Howe to Arsenal based? What is Woods’ evidence that Howe is in line to replace Wenger? Is it just an educated guess?
Wenger has been at Arsenal for 20 years and is entering the final 12-months of his current contract. Although there is no suggestion he is heading for the chop immediately, Starsport can reveal the Gunners board would not have stood in Wenger’s way if he had wanted to take over as England boss next summer, as the FA had originally wanted.
Would. If. Not many facts there.
England never did go for Wenger. The FA never did wait a year for him to leave Arsenal, as the Star reported they would do.
It’s a clear signal that Arsenal are now preparing for life after the 66-year-old.
Wenger is 66. Of course Arsenal are preparing for life after the man has left. Wenger is in the final year of his current deal. They would be mad not to have a plan. Just look at what happened to Manchester United when Ferguson left.
And Arsenal have advance warning. The Mirror “set the date” of Wenger’s leaving, telling us in January 2016 that the Frenchman will leave the Gunners on June 30 2017:
There is not a single fact to support the story of Howe to Arsenal. The Press are as clueless about what Arsenal will do after Wenger as they were when the Gunners hired the man. Back in 1996, Johan Cruyff was the favourite to replace Bruce Ricoh.
As Nick Hornby put it:
“I remember when Bruce Rioch was sacked, one of the papers had three or four names. It was Terry Venables, Johan Cruyff and then, at the end, Arsène Wenger. I remember thinking as a fan, I bet it’s fucking Arsène Wenger, because I haven’t heard of him and I’ve heard of the other two. Trust Arsenal to appoint the boring one that you haven’t heard of.”
Transfer Balls spots this utter drivel in the Daily Telegraph. Arsenal’sSerge Gnabry has been called up to Germany’s Olympic football team. Lest you suppose news that a bit-part Arsenal player missing a few games with an Olympic hangover was not big news, the Telegraph says you’d be wrong. It is huge.
Gnabry featured on loan for West Brom last season [3 matches played], but has impressed Arsene Wenger this pre-season, and has been tipped for a more important role at the Emirates this season.
More important than no games for Arsenal last season?
His departure for the Games leaves Arsenal a man short in their midfield, and could even force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market.
Who could replace Gnabry, the player who made nine starts for Arsenal? Richard Amofa Harry Yorke have an idea.
Who would be a suitable replacement? Either Alexandre Lacazette and Riyad Mahrez could probably do the job. Many would feel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also capable, but the forward today distanced himself from a move to the Gunners.
Got that? The Premier League’s best player last season, the exciting young French striker or the thrilling Dortmund striker could do the job of Gnabry.
Indeed. What about Ronaldo? Surely he deserves the chance.
Transfer balls: Arsenal fans reeling from yesterdays BBC news that the club are not spending big money can today read the BBC news of a “£75m double deal to bring Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, 25, and Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, 25, to the Emirates Stadium.
Winger Mahrez, voted Player of the Year by footballers’ union the PFA last season, and Lyon striker Lacazette are top of Wenger’s wanted list…Mahrez – who has three years left on his contract with the new champions – would cost around £35m.
Over in the Metro, the news is that “Adidas start selling no.7 Riyad Mahrez Chelsea shirts”. Has the Algerian signed for The Blues?
How could he have? The Telegraph reported on July 23 that Mahrez had “agreed to join Arsenal”. The fee: £41m. Have Adidas, the Press or both made an error? The Metro’s source is a twitter account called @Chelseaolic, currently followed by 202 people. The picture is below. Yes, it could be a rough and ready bit of photoshop-style fun. And that’s good enough for The Metro to report it as fact:
The Metro says “The option to buy Mahrez no.7 shirts has since been removed”. Er, no. there is no proof it was ever on offer.
So, the Arsenal move is till on, then?
No. The last word is with Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester manager, who states: “Maybe now (£47m) and maybe tomorrow another newspaper says £100m. Keep going! Mahrez is okay with us. He understands that’s someone loves to put some speculation but it is only speculation.”
Arsenal are having a tough time. Yeah, really. The BBC says Arsenal are “braced” for complaints from fans after “warning them not to expect expensive summer signings.”
That would be the Arsenal who this summer signed Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for £35m (source: BBC)? It would be. That sounds like an expensive signing. It isn’t. As Alan Smith writes in the Guardian, £30m is the “norm” for a decent player.
The Times has more on why the BBC says Arsenal are expecting their fans to complain. Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, says not-big-spending Leicester are the model.
Gazidis said that Arsenal should be inspired by Leicester even after he recruited Ben Wrigglesworth, who was head of technical scouting at the champions. “Leicester identified players from the French second division, so maybe there’s talent that we’ve been overlooking,” Gazidis told ESPN.
“They did their talent identification [well], they had great unity within the group, as well as quality. It wasn’t built on money. It was built on the great fitness work they did. It was built on all of these other elements. I think that’s going to be a continuing trend within the Premier League.”
Or as the Mail says, also today:
Arsene Wenger insists he is ready to spend BIG
Says Wenger: “It’s not over. Today we are in July, and the transfer market finishes on the 31st of August. We know as well that a lot happens many times in the last week.”
The media really have no idea who Arsenal will buy.
Transfer Balls: Is Mauro Icardi heading to Arsenal? Maybe. The Sun has news that the “Inter Milan star’s sexy wife and AGENT ” is in London to broker her husband’s £43m move to the Gunners. She is “JET WAGGED” Wanda Nara.
Less anyone think it a bit sexist of the Sun to be astounded that a woman can be a man’s agent, the paper features a picture of her backside. This picture:
The bigger shock than seeing an agent losing their shirt is news that on July 18 the Sun told us: “MAGIC WANDA – Arsenal set to miss out on Mauro Icardi as agent reveals Juventus interest.”
The Sun then added: “His wife Wanda Nara, who bizarrely is also his agent.”
Why is it bizarre that a husband and wife are in business together? If you are going to be shafted by anyone, might as well make it your beloved.
And it’s big money. The Guardian says Incardi “would command a cool £5m in wages this season, should he sign for the Gunners.”
In other Arsenal transfer news, the Indy says Arsenal tare in for Arda Turan for £20m. The paper says Barcelona are willing to sell the Turkish midfielder. They are? No. “Arda Turan pledges Barcelona allegiance,” says the Sun.
The Guardian says it’s “bad news” for Arsenal fans. Arsène Wenger wants to buy Gonzalo Higuaín for £50m. Drat! With bad news like that, fans of Wigan Athletic, QPR and more must be feeling they got off lightly. The “bad news” is that in the insane world of football transfers, the GDP of a mid-sized Pacific island is not enough to hire an ageing striker.
Higuain is not far off 29-years-old. He has been likened to a “block of concrete” by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis. Not because he’s durable, no-nonsense and tough. The comparison was made in light of Higuain’s girth and mobility.
Napoli, Higuain’s current club, value the Argentine at £80m. Although Sky Sports “sources” say “Higuain won’t leave Napoli for under £78.5m”.
But hold on! The Telegraph reports has news from the inside. A “presenter on official Napoli radio station [Radio Kiss Kiss] says Gonzalo Higuain ‘will almost certainly join Arsenal for €50m plus Olivier Giroud'”. Almost certainly. Or definitely uncertainly.
Of course, this is Anorak’s Transfer Balls, and any mention of Higuain would not be complete without harking back to the fact that he already plays for Arsenal. We read it in the Sun. In fact, the story of Higuain joining Arsenal is still live on the Sun’s website.
And so begins the break-up of the Leicester City team that one with Premier League. The Telegraph says Chelsea have agreed to sign Leicester midfielder N’Golo Kante, 25, at the weekend for £29m. Kante, we read, will soon tell Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri he wants to leave Leicester.
Of course nothing has been decided. Kante has signed no contract.
Jamie Vardy, Kante’s Leicester team-mate rejected a £20m move to Arsenal and committed to Leicester earlier this summer. Or did he?
The Express told readers on June 7, “Jamie Vardy verbally agrees three-year Arsenal deal”.
Today the Express says, “Arsenal have already missed out on Jamie Vardy, who has verbally agreed a new contract with Leicester.”
Verbal agreements appear to be no agreements at all. Can we deduce from the news that Vardy to Arsenal remains on?
Arsenal are under “threat”. In an “exclusive”, the Mail’s Charles Sale thunders beneath the headline “THIERRY THREAT” that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has delivered an “extraordinary ultimatum”. He has “ruled” that Henry must leave his punditry role at Sky Sports if he wants to be an Arsenal coach.
Wenger “feels his fellow Frenchman cannot work within the club during the week and then criticise their players at the weekend”. Well, quite. That seems obvious. Henry has been highly critical of Olivier Giroud, the Arsenal and France striker.
But then Sale says Wenger is “hypocritical” because he worked as a pundit for beIN Sport during Euro 2016. That job ends when the season begins. Henry’s job just gets going.
Who will be the next England team manager? Will it be Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger?
Metro says “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger gives massive England job hint”. Really? This is Wenger who saw England’s desire to recruit foreign managers and mused: “In a country of 50 million people, you would think you could find one of your own.”
The Times says: “Wenger keen on England if FA waits a year.”
Is Wenger worth waiting for? Is he The One, the figure so vital to the FA they will wait? In 1996 Wenger arrived at Arsenal from Nagoya Grampus Eight. He was a sensation. Why can’t England be as bold and go for someone young and innovative?
For years the FA has been eyeing Wenger – the manager who became “the first to pick a 16-man Premier League squad that did not feature a single Englishman”.
Does Wenger really want the job? When asked about managing England, the Arsenal manager told BeIn Sports:
“Could I manage England, why not? I would never rule that out, but I am happy and focused in club football… I have one more year to go with Arsenal and I have been with them for a long time. I have always respected all my contacts [throughout my career] and will continue to do that. What will I do after that? Honestly, I don’t know.”
Arsenal have already lined up a two-year extension to that deal. They want him to agree to it by October. Wenger knows his value to the Gunners.
Rub your eyes Arsenal fans. The Telegraph says Arsenal are planning to gazump Chelsea and bid – get this – £65m for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.
The Sun tells us Arsenal will offer Morata £144,000-a-week, making him their third highest paid player behind Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
The Daily Mirror says Morata to Arsenal is very much on because the player wants Champions’ League football, something Chelsea can’t offer.
But would Arsenal really bid such a huge sum for a talented but far from sensational player? The Tele says Chelsea are “more than willing to pay that price”. The Blues want to stick Morata up front with new boy Michy Batshuayi. But Morata “would rather move to the Emirates than Stamford Bridge”.
The Standard says Arsenal are offering too much. “Chelsea bid £51m for Alvaro Morata,” says the London free paper.
The Indy says Morata to Arsenal is on. But in case it isn’t, the paper of record names NINE other strikers who could join Arsenal. The list is a sensation, featuring, as it does, Brazilian superstar Neymar. Neymar to Arsenal! That would be the same Neymar of whom the Indy wrote on July 1 this year:
Neymar’s contract with Barcelona has been extended until 2021… The announcement ended speculation that Neymar was unhappy in Spain and was looking to move to another club.
It did – unless the Indy has to find 10 names for a dire story on Arsenal strikers.
Of course, there is balls and there is utter balls. We’ll leave you with the news from 2014 that Morata already plays for Arsenal: