By Patrick Grove.
Given my last post’s title, it does seem a long time ago that all that doom and gloom was going on doesn’t it? Shows you how much can change in just a few weeks in football. Realistically, only one thing has changed since then and that is the signing of one Santi Cazorla. Let’s not play down how exciting that one thing is though.
Santi Cazorla is a Spain international with 49 caps and that’s in a team that has won two European Championships and 1 World Cup in the last 12 years. To say he’s a fringe player on that team merely means that he could start on any other national team in the world. And the reason he doesn’t start for Spain more regularly is really because of an injury during the 2010 World Cup. This player is a real talent, in the peak of his footballing years, and was purchased for a price 3 times less than Andy Carroll and 4 times less than Fernando Torres. Far from Arsenal’s normal purchasing strategy, we have bought a bona fide star at his playing peak. If he adapts to the Premier League as quickly as his Spanish counterparts (Silva and Mata) he could very well be the bargain purchase of the decade.
There have already been whispers coming out of the Arsenal camp of his “incredible technical ability.” We played all of last season without a truly creative midfielder (aside from the first two months when Aaron Ramsey was playing well; yes, people seem to have forgotten that he did play well for a bit) which meant that other players had to take up the responsibility of being creative for the team. The idea that we have added two world class forwards in Podolski and Giroud (100 caps for a team as good as Germany surely makes you world class, and being a golden boot winner, even if it’s in Ligue 1 is nothing to baulk at) and now a world class creative midfielder, is mouthwatering to Arsenal fans. With the depth currently on offer at Arsenal, defenses will have nightmares about us.
The sun is shining for us now, isn’t it?
Well for some fans, not quite so much. The big talking point now is how RvP moving to United would be the worst betrayal of an Arsenal player in the Wenger era. It’s hard to argue that point as United and Arsenal have been bitter rivals for the better part of fifteen years and the animosity between them has always been high. Having our captain leave at a time when we seem to be building a formidable side, for a bitter league rival that in reality, has done little to improve itself from last season, would be a tough blow. Especially considering he’s spent 7 seasons keeping our other players and training staff company in the treatment room, to be “too good” to re-sign with a team that kept the faith, and paid you for that long takes some cajones.
The question was raised on Twitter the other day about whether this would be the worst betrayal and the only one that seems close is when Cashley left. At least Cole performed regularly for Arsenal before he decided to take his leave.
SAF (I shudder even writing his initials) was quoted saying some quite comical things yesterday with regards to RVP’s transfer situation.
“I don’t have a gut feeling on it at the moment, I must admit. We’re not getting any breakthrough with Arsenal. It’s difficult to say why they’re operating this way. I don’t know what their thoughts are because they’re not giving anything away.” ESPN
He can’t be serious with these quotes. He, of all people, understands why a team would hesitate to sell their best player to a bitter rival.
It’s being stated now that if MUFC do want Robin, they’ll have to pay a premium above the 20 million pound minimum to satisfy Mr. Wenger. If this is true, I say good on us. Finally, finally, we are showing some gumption in the transfer market with regards to our best players. If you want our best player and you’re our rival, fine, but you pay more than the market price. If you don’t want him enough to pay that much, too bad. If we can manage to really stick to our principles, we will either have the premier striker in England right now or a hefty fee in hand to find a replacement or to be used for other squad needs.
Being a true Arsenal fan, not satisfied enough with the mighty fine work we already have done this summer, the one thing I would ask for is some clarity on RVP. Make a statement of intent and principle to the public, to the player, and to the teams in the market. Something like, “Under no circumstances will Robin van Persie be made available for transfer to other teams in the Premier League” or “Mr. van Persie will be sold to the highest bidder over 20 million pounds or not at all”. Even if it’s just confirming what is already being speculated on, that MUFC would have to pay a premium for being a rival, would tell the fans and other players Arsenal Football Club will no longer hold the policy of bending over to players’ whims. Secrecy is good for some things -like making sure your purchases aren’t poached by other, more financially endowed teams – but in this situation, transparency might suit everyone.
A few more things to tie up this summer and we will have ourselves well sorted. The deals of Theo Walcott and RvP are still outstanding and clarity on one or both would be great before the first ball is kicked. Moving on some of the squad either permanently (Chamakh, Park, Bendtner, Squillaci) or temporarily on loan (Ryo, Mannone, Frimpong, Eisfeld, and Jenkinson if we could find a backup RB) would be good for (1) experience, (2) squad number, and (3) our bank balance. Remember, there can only be 25 on the squad list and on Arsenal.com right now the list is 37 strong (including Vela and Denilson still).
I don’t think I have been this excited for a season to kick off in quite some time. With or without RvP we have a strong squad that has the ability and depth to challenge. Keeping hold of him would be a real boost to our chances, but the way we, as a club, have conducted ourselves this summer has given me great hope for the short term and long term future.
Look at that. The sun is shining after all. Until next time.