First of all, let’s discuss what’s going on off the field, as this may affect the club’s transfer policy, with Alisher Usmanov expected to sell his 30% to Stan Kroenke. If this deal goes through, and many expect it will, the argument goes that Kroenke may be less keen on allowing the club to invest in players. I’m not sure that’s true necessarily. Very few people get involved in football to make money and who enjoys being targeted for abuse? After all, abuse is the fate of those that own clubs but allow them to fade away.
People worry about Kroenke having too much power, but he must already be getting his own way most of the time with his 70% shareholding. Nevertheless, they’ll be less transparency (what even more ‘undisclosed transfer fees’, if that’s possible?) and less democracy if Kroenke buys Usmanov out and Arsenal could become his expensive toy. Then how Arsenal fare all depends on our view of Kroenke. Just because he’s known as ‘Silent Stan’, does that mean he is a villain? The club have won FA Cups since his arrival, and the manager has changed, which is what many fans wanted. Therefore, the question is: what is wrong with Kroenke owning 100% of the club if he genuinely cares? Of course, it’s a big ‘if’ though. Meanwhile, Usmanov seems to be enjoying spending his time and money at Everton more than he is at Arsenal, where some people say he does not get the level of respect at board level that many believe he deserves for his substantial shareholding. For that reason, it won’t be surprising if Usmanov leaves.
Staying with off-the-field matters, Ivan Gazidis is likely to move to AC Milan, according to many accounts. It would be a strange time to go, as his project is in motion and you’d like to think that he would like to see how the new structure works at Arsenal. However, he may well feel he’s worth a pay rise and could want a new challenge. It could be argued that Gazidis leaves Arsenal, structurally, in a better place than he found it, as prior to his intervention, Arsene Wenger allegedly ran the club like a benign dictator. Once again, people in the know expect Gazidis to leave, so that’s one more for the exit door, but you’d like to think he’s replaceable.
On the playing front, David Ospina appears to be edging closer and closer to Besiktas or Boca Juniors, as he’s already been replaced by Arsenal’s signing of Bernd Leno. It doesn’t sound like it will be a big money deal, so Arsenal will mostly save on the World Cup player’s wages.
The same applies to Joel Campbell, although the fact that he has been seen in the number 35 shirt could indicate that he will get a chance to prove himself again. Campbell has something in his game that makes him worth persevering with and he can play on the flanks, which is a weak area. One thing is sure: he won’t be loaned out again, given his contractual situation.
In that sense, Campbell is not so unlike Aaron Ramsey, except the one-of-five skippers could hold the club to ransom as his contract negotiations continue. It seems unlikely that the club will receive a good sum for his services, so £30m may be all that Arsenal get now. That’s the price that must be paid for the club’s incompetence in conducting contract negotiations, which has also seen Jack Wilshere leave on a free. Hopefully for Arsenal, this is the last summer that top players will be allowed to start the final season of their contract, given how much it has cost the club financially. Giving in to Mesut Ozil’s ridiculous wage demands in January has compounded the problem, as Ramsey may want Ozil wages and who can blame him? He can argue that he is one of five captains. Some say Rambo’s irreplaceable, but I disagree. He offers a lot in the attacking sense, but can be a liability defensively. If Rambo can’t be Arsenal’s number 10, which is his true position, there is no point in keeping him on as an expensive square peg in a round hole.
Meanwhile, staying on the subject of midfielders, Jeff Reine-Adelaide has already left Arsenal to join French club Angers on a permanent deal. Many fans seem upset that the Gunners will never see the 20-year-old rise up through the ranks now at the Emirates, but there are only so many places in the squad. It might be harsh, but it made sense to let him go.
That, by the way, is not how I felt about Lucas Perez, who has recently returned from a loan spell, but still could be sold. Like many fans, I’ve never understood why Perez didn’t get more opportunities to play. Now that he’s come back, and was left out in the friendly against PSG, the same is happening all over again. However, I think the previous treatment he received by the old boss may have left a sour taste in his mouth, which may be why he doesn’t seem to want to be at Arsenal. His body language was poor against Atletico Madrid and he wasn’t able to make much impact in the playing time he was given. It was a great shame, as Arsenal fans have seen what he can do previously, so wanted him to get his chance. Like Campbell, he can play wide, which might mean he will get his opportunity at long last.
Another one who could be off, according to reports is Danny Welbeck. The former Manchester United offers a lot of energy and is unfazed by being at a big club. His bubbly personality makes him really popular, so I would be surprised if he gets sold, especially for just £15m. However, you could understand any of the above Arsenal players being sold if it means having the cash to swoop for an out-and-out winger.