Six set to leave – Does anybody care?

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.


Arsenal fans set for relaxing transfer window

Over the last decade or so, the transfer window has been a fraught time of year for Arsenal fans, as they ponder “Who will be leaving next?”

In fact, I lie, it is not a new thing that only developed over the last decade. It go’s beyond that. From Anelka in 1999 all the way through to Bacary Sagna last summer, we have often  lost players we do not really want to lose. The big difference in the last 10 years is that losing top players has been more consistent in the mid-late 00’s and into the 10’s, than it was in the late 90’s-early 00’s.

Last year, there was already a feeling of change. Yes, we wanted to keep Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna, but it was also felt that they were replaceable. And we replaced them.

This summer, however, the feeling is even stronger that we will not lose anyone we do not want to.

Abou Diaby,  and Damien Martinez are set to go on a free. Podolski and Campbell set to be sold. None of these have exactly been key players this season.

There is a question mark of Theo Walcott. Arsene Wenger has said he would stay, but let’s be honest, if we decided to sell, it will be our decision, and he will not be missed.

What all this results in is we do not need to worry about the mindless speculation linking our players away from the club. From the likes of Anelka, Vieira and Henry being linked away because they could join a bigger side, to Nasri, Toure and Adebayor who’s head was turned by money and titles. We are now in a strong position, and will build and strengthen rather than weaken.

What will be nice this season is that it is set to be our opponents who are going to be speculated about departures.

Having lost Suarez last season, Liverpool are facing a summer of uncertainty when it comes to Sterling. He has refused to sign a new contract. Once the season is over, the speculation about his future will be on a daily basis.

Despite having all the money Arab oil can bring, Manchester City also have a turbulent summer ahead. James Milner and Micah Richards both set to leave on a free (Milner having already gone). Edin Dzeko and Jovetic complaining about lack of 1st team football. Yaya Toure not having a very happy birthday. There could be a massive overhaul in Manchester. Add in Fernando and Ferdandinho underperforming, and the problems they have in the centre of defence, it could really be as much as 10 in 10 out.

Manchester United are in the same boat. Despite having sign Angel di Maria last summer, speculation is rife that he will join PSG this summer. Mata could return to Spain. Falcao to France. And RVP, well he will probably try to engineer a move away in the same way he did at Arsenal. They face another summer of upheaval. Speculation. Disastrous signings.

The only other club looking fairly set at the moment is Chelsea. Bar Petr Cech, it is unlikely anyone will leave who they do not want to lose. Unless Real Madrid apply the pressure on Eden Hazard. And that could be fun to watch.

So Arsenal fan’s, with a trophy in the cabinet for the 2nd successive season, we can go on holiday, put our feet up, cigar in hand, and relax, knowing that this year, the heart will not be ripped out of our club.

Instead it will be ripped out of our opponents.