In such uncertain times, it is nigh on impossible to make predictions as to how Arsenal’s squad will look once the season either resumes in earnest or is scrapped. Quite when the transfer window will kick in is another question, but with many players’ contracts expiring on the 30th June, there is unlikely to be a stop on transfers commencing then. However, what is unknown is the end date.
Could we return to the days when clubs had almost free rein to buy, sell and loan, at any time? Personally, I think it would be a good thing, as the more money that circulates, the stronger the economy will become. While it may make some clubs unstable on the playing front, it can bolster the finances of struggling clubs. In these difficult times, football authorities should be looking at ways to increase the money being generated by the game and the introduction of tinier transfer windows did not make life easier for smaller clubs.
Of course, Arsenal are not exactly in the doldrums economically, so should not have to worry on that front. However, the club did report a loss in the last financial year and still have another year of paying Ozil 350,000 pounds a week to look forward to, so more flexibility from the authorities about when transfer business can be conducted would help Arsenal do ‘more’ rather than ‘less or nothing’, to borrow Mikel Arteta’s cited phrase.
On that subject, it seems as if the club have finally brought in a manager, who can turn Arsenal’s fortunes around, whether or not much transfer business is conducted. In the opinion of most observers, Pablo Mari must be signed on a permanent basis when his loan deal expires. Although he’s only player one Premier League game, he has impressed many and, as central defence has been a problem area for many years, is worth the risk.
Meanwhile, it is impossible to give an opinion on Cedric Soares, who is yet to play for the club, despite joining on loan from Southampton. We can only hope that when the action begins again, he will be fully fit and ready to strut his stuff, and still in his within his loan period so the club can make a decision: to retain or not.
The other loan player at Arsenal, who many would like to see sign, is Dani Ceballos. I must confess I’m not a huge fan of the Spaniard so far. While he has had a couple of good games for the club, he flatters to deceive much of the time. He doesn’t offer enough defensively and doesn’t score many goals or provide enough assists. Therefore, I would let him go.
The big worry, though, is what to do with Arsenal’s talismanic skipper, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Rather than let him run down his contract, which expires in 2021, the club would rather sell if the Gabon international will not put pen to paper on a new deal. That is an understandable stance, particularly given the high-profile departure last season of Aaron Ramsey for nothing. Arsenal fans can only hope that Auba does not heed the advice given by the president of Gabon’s football association, Pierre Alain Mounguegui, who says the striker needs to move to more ‘ambitious’ club.
Although some would say the appointment of Arteta was a cut-price managerial option for Arsenal, the truth is he looks like he’s beginning to turn the club around. The mentality is showing signs of changing, as the Gunners are becoming difficult to beat and are even keeping clean sheets. Perhaps Auba will reconsider and sign based on this improvement.
Another aspect that may convince Auba to re-sign is potential qualification for the Champions League. There is a remote chance that should the current season be declared null and void and Manchester City’s ban be upheld, Arsenal will qualify for the showpiece competition based on last year’s final standings. This seems extremely unlikely to me but, nevertheless, it remains a possibility.
Whether or not Auba goes, I hope the club think very carefully before allowing Lacazette to leave. The French striker has undoubted class and cannot afford to lose him. My advice would be to hang onto him for at least one more year, as I feel the best is yet to come from him.
The first line-up following the long lay-off will tell us much about Arteta’s thoughts, regarding his squad. It would be good to see Guendouzi as well as Lacazette back in the first eleven but, for now, it’s just wait and see.