Arsenal on international duty

Has anyone actually bothered following the international tournaments that have been going on in the last few weeks?

We have had the Confederations Cup in Russia and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Poland bubbling on nicely in the last couple of weeks. And now we are at the business end of both competitions.

I have kind of drifted in and out of both competitions. With the Lions Tour, some cricket and Love Island, my TV time has been fairly filled. But I have tried to catch a bit of Chile and a bit of England U21s.

Both Chile (in the Confederations Cup) and England (in the U21s) have made their respective semi finals. England play tonight, Chile tomorrow night.

In the U21 tournament, England are 3rd favourites to win.

It has been a bit of a mixed ability tournament. The majority of German’s U21 team – England’s opponents tonight – are in Russia playing for the 1st team, as Joachim Lowe decided to play a development team and rest the likes of Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer.

Likewise the England side is certainly not our strongest set of U21 players as the likes of Raheem Sterling, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford on senior duty.

A stand out player for the England U21’s has been Arsenal’s Calum Chambers.

Chambers has had a rough couple of years since his big money move to Arsenal, but it is easy to forget that he is still just 22. He has started every game for England, ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup hero Rob Holding.

Before this summer, Chambers would have been one of those slated to leave Arsenal. But his performances for England would have changed a lot of fans mind on him. He has been brilliant, and most noticeably very strong in the air.

The fact he has been continually picked ahead of Rob Holding is testament to his ability. Arsenal would be silly to let him leave.

As for Rob Holding, it has been a frustrating tournament for him. From the high of the FA Cup win and becoming an Arsenal regular, to struggling to get any game time for England, behind Calum Chambers and some bloke from Swansea (in fairness, Alfie Mawson has played well).

Whilst the England and German sides are certainly not the strongest they could put out, Spain have selected the best side they could, with many senior professionals stepping down to the junior level.

One such player has been Hector Bellerin.

Bellerin played 90 minutes in both the first and second game, before being rested for Spain’s 3rd group game – with Spain being guaranteed qualification. Favourites Spain face Italy in the semi finals.

Krystian Bielik would have been disappointed to be an unused substitute in all of Poland’s games.

Meanwhile over at the Confederations Cup, record breaking Alexis Sanchez started off the tournament injured, but has shown just what a key player he is for Chile as he made history and became their all time top scorer.

With the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal in the squad, there is certainly some value in Chile to beat Portugal, and even go on to win the thing.

Arsenal have more interested in the other semi-final as Germany take on Mexico. Shkodran Mustafi has played two of the 3 games for favourites Germany, where a big mistake against Chile led to club team mates Alexis Sanchez record breaking goal.

With Sanchez’s contract set to be resolved once the Confederations Cup is over, Arsenal fans will be itching for it to end at the weekend.

Plenty of football to watch this week.

Have a good one



First major signing shows Arsenal still outgun Spurs

Arsenal are set to complete their first major signing of the summer in the shape of Monaco magician Thomas Lemar.

The French youngster was top of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur’s wish list. The fact the talented midfielder has picked Arsenal over Spurs is a massive coup.

Having finished in the Champions League places for the second season in a row, and above Arsenal for the first time since 1995 – before Lemar was born – there had been talk of a shift of power in North London. But the decision by Lemar to pick Arsenal over Spurs shows there is no power shift.

Whilst Spurs might have qualified in the Champions League ahead of Arsenal, they are still seen as a small club on the continent. Dani Alves once said he was “surprised” when he found out Manchester had two clubs. Many of those in Europe couldn’t point to Tottenham on the map.

Meanwhile, whilst Arsenal have had 20 years of Champions League failure, they are amongst one of the biggest names on the continent.

You then come to managers. Mauricio Pochettino is massively hyped up in England. But like the club he manages, he is an unknown in Europe.

An average playing career, he has won nothing as a manager and would not be top of any major sides wish list.

Arsene Wenger meanwhile has been heavily criticised in England, but his stock remains high on mainland Europe. Still considered a top coach, the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil came to Arsenal to play for him. Being French, and from Monaco, Lemar would have been massively influenced by Arsene Wenger, and the much maligned manager is a big reason Lemar has chosen Arsenal.

A big factor is also wages. Arsenal can offer top dollar, whilst Spurs are still paying mid table wages as their funds have to go towards things such as buying cranes. Arsenal have literally blown Spurs’ salary offer out of the water.

The final key factor is success. Spurs have no recent success. They might be able to offer Champions League football but they can not offer Lemar trophies.

Arsenal have won 3 FA Cups in 4 years. It might not be the league, but it is the greatest cup competition in the world.

There are reportedly a few more i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but once the deal is done, it will send a reminder to that lot up the road.

North London is still red.


How could Arsenal spend £130m (and it’s not Mbappe)

The reported fee that Monaco are now asking for is £130m. I think I speak for every sensible Arsenal fan when I say thanks but no thanks and think Arsenal should walk away from any deal at this price.

It is not that I do not want us to spend big, nor do I want us to stop chasing a player who has great potential. But £130m for Kylian Mbappe is just a piss take, quite frankly.

Mbappe has a lot of talent, but that is a silly price for an 18 year old who has done nothing in his career so far. He has played just 40 league games for Monaco. Yes, he might become the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but what Monaco are asking for, allegedly, is the price of Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi, not a player who might become as good as them.

It is silly price tag, at least four times as much as I would pay for him, probably twice as much as anyone should consider paying him. I feel £130m could be better off spent elsewhere.

Thomas Lemar & Alexandre Lacazette

When travelling to France to discuss a deal with Monaco for Kylian Mbappe, you have to wonder if a duel bid for his team mate Thomas Lemar and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette might be a better option.

Lemar is equally as talented as Mbappe, but at a couple of years older just has a lesser potential. He would provide perfect back up – and become a potential replacement – for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

Upfront, Lacazette is a better striker than Mbappe. Again, Mbappe might well surpass his French team mate, but as it stands, Lacazette is the superior individual.

Last season, Mbappe scored 15 goals in 29 games. In the exact same league, Lacazette scored 28 goals in 30 games.

For me it is a no brainer, spend the £130m on two talented players rather than a single player with potential

Romelu Lukaku & Riyad Mahrez

Instead of going for a duel French option, how about a double Premier League swoop?

Lukaku might have his dreams on a move back to Chelsea, what with their Champions League football and love of casual racism, but could Arsenal muscle in on a deal?

Mahrez has also been a target for Arsenal for some time.

Both players are Premier League proven. Both could be signed for within the £130m. And Arsenal can get some change out that too.

Ousmane Dembélé & Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Maybe you know where this is going now? If we don’t fancy a bit of French or English, perhaps we should go for something German?

Aubemeyang is clearly available at an affordable price. He has 10 years on Mbappe. But is a much, much better player. Arsenal should not need to buy potential anymore. This would be a perfect example of signing an established world class player, against signing someone with potential.

On the potential side, Dembele is a talented kid. In the same bracket as Lemar and Mbappe.

Like the Lacazette & Lemar deal, Arsenal could get an established star and a future star for the same price as Kylian Mbappe.

Mauro Icardi & Lorenzo Insigne

Our round the world in a double transfer swoop takes us to Italy.

Icardi is one of the most all round strikers in world football, whilst Insigne has taken massive steps forward in the last couple of years and would be capable of competing with Ozil and Sanchez.

No potential in this one, just two established stars.

Andrea Belotti & Arda Turan

Yes, they both play in different leagues, but I though I would do one last pairing.

Belotti has been sensational form for Torino over the last 18 months. He has all the attributes of being able to play as a long striker, and at just 23 still has room for improvement.

As for Arda Turan, Wenger has been a long time admirer. He would not be a stunning signing, but would certainly be good enough to play second fiddle to Sanchez and Ozil.

Cristiano Ronaldo

If we are willing to risk £130m on someone’s potential, and therefore write it off when it turns out he is just s midget Sanogo, why not spank that money on Cristiano Ronaldo for 3 years?

Alexis Sanchez

Just give him £100m. Job done.

Bergkamp & Henry

Create a baby from Henry and Berkamp’s DNA and cultivate it for 16 years.