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.