The mornings Arsenal related news is about the club clearing out the closet, looking to let off load up to 6 players.
Players mentioned are Lukas Podolski, Joel Campbell, Carl Jenkinson, David Ospina, Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini.
In usual circumstance, a club losing 6 players, 3 of which were senior, would present some sort of crisis. Letting 6 go would usually mean having to sign 6. There would be broken crests all over the place.
However, in this bright new world at Arsenal, the cull is actually a positive move, as what we are infact doing is moving on players from the lower end of the squad in terms of quality. Players who are not needed, players who are surplus to requirements.
At this point in time, we could let go all 6 players, sign no one else, and the squad would be no weaker, no lighter, than last season. It would just save us a big load of wages. By my estimation, this could be near £15,000,000 per annum. If all were shifted on, that would mean we could purchase 2/3 top players (including Petr Cech), without seeing our wage bill rise.
Some of the players leaving could consider themselves unlucky. Well, one of them can anyway. David Ospina.
Bought last year as someone to put pressure of Wojciech Szczesny, Ospina took the number 1 jersey from the big Pole after his smoking display against Southampton. His departure from Arsenal is due to circumstances beyond his control.
I am sure last year, when Ospina was signed, it was not as a short term replacement for Lukasz Fabianski. At just 26, he would have had a long career at Arsenal as a number 2. However, Szczesny’s poor form led us to search for a new number 1, and when someone with the ability and experience as Cech came on the market, we moved.
That left Arsenal in the position of having 3 international goal keepers who all wanted to be number 1. And the decision has been made that Ospina is that one.
Ospina can consider himself as unlucky, but with Szczesny 2 years his junior, more naturally gifted, more made for the Premier League and, perhaps more importantly, home grown, Ospina is the one out. Szczesny will be given the opportunity to work under Cech, learn from him, and with age on his side, become number 1 once more when Cech retires. But for now, it is good bye to Ospina.
Next on the list who might feel a bit unlucky is Carl Jenkinson. Personally, I do not think we will sell him. He has shown himself to be Premier League class during his spell at West Ham and performances for England. I have always believed that he has the ability to at least be 2nd choice right back for Arsenal. His recent performances show he could be 1st choice.
Arsenal are in a situation where we have 3 very good right backs. Debuchy is the experience, Bellerin the young talented upstart, Jenkinson somewhere in the middle.
There has been talk of Jenkinson leaving for c £10m. I think more likely is that he leaves on loan (with Arsenal receiving £1-2m loan fee). That then leaves Debuchy, who is returning from injury, to battle with Bellerin for the season. Depending on progress, a decision will be made next season. If Debuchy is the outstanding right back, he will continue in the position and Jenkinson will be sold. If Bellerin continues his develop over last season, and keeps Debuchy out of the 1st team, Debuchy will become surplus to requirements – and probably unhappy playing 2nd fiddle. That will result in Debuchy leaving and Jenkinson coming back to battle with Bellerin. It also creates a situation where 3 of our 4 full backs (including Gibbs), are all home grown (yes GC, I know Bellerin is not from North London, but he will still be considered as home grown).
The other 4 leaving, Podolski, Campbell, Sanogo and Flamini, are just no longer good enough for Arsenal.
The less Podolski played, the better he got in the fans eyes. Fans remembering individual performances like Fulham rather than the many lackluster performances where he contributed nothing. His performances at Inter Milan where he scored 1 league goal (the only league goal he scored last season) showed that whilst he was a fan favorite due to his social media activities, on the pitch he simply failed to perform.
There will still be many in some quarters who will support him. Say he was misused. Say he should stay. But compare his performances to Alexis Sanchez. One is a world class performer, the other, at £135,000 a week (approx) is an expensive bench warmer. Sell Podolski, reinvest the wages, and move forward. There are better players out there.
Joel Campbell is another who, like Podolski, got better the less he played. A half decent World Cup led his stock to be high last summer. I believe we should have sold him then. We didn’t, and it resulted in one of the funniest scenarios this season (or at least became funny) where Campbell was shouted at the Stoke City game “get out whilst you can Joel.” Joel did get out. Loaned out to Villarreal. He did not do much. Arsenal won the FA Cup and dramatically improved in the New Year. Now it is not Joel’s choice to ‘get out’, he will be forced out. Another player who, 5/6 years ago would have got a chance, but with this new Arsenal, we now buy established stars, not try and make them.
Yaya Sanogo was always a shot to nothing. A talented lad who had a horrendous injury record. He cost us nothing. Just wages. Contributed nothing. And will probably be let go for nothing. It’s worthwhile taking these risks, as they might pay off. This one did not.
Finally we come to Flamini. He is just past it. Now behind Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta, and with a new defensive midfielder in the pipeline, he is just not up to it anymore. He is simply not good enough for this new Arsenal moving forward. We no longer have to make do with a player who simply ‘does a job’. He did a job for his 1st season back, last season he did not do a job, next season his only job might be, if he stays, Mesut Ozil’s friend.
The players leaving highlight a good sign for Arsenal. We are no longer a club that needs mediocre players. The futures bright. The futures Arsenal.