Why the Wojciech Szczesny love in?

It is always interesting to see who’s narrative changes to suit the agenda. Often this happens when it surrounds either criticising or praising Arsene Wenger.

You will have some who will change their opinion on everything just to dig the Frenchman out, others who alter their views to go OTT in defence of him.

With Wojciech Szczesny set to join Juventus in a £10m deal, we have seen the changing narrative to suit an agenda rear it’s ugly head again.

It is two and a half years since Szczesny was dropped having made errors leading to both goals in Arsenal’s 2–0 defeat at Southampton. He was later fined £20,000 by the club for smoking in the changing room showers after the match.

I remember at the time, pretty much everyone was in agreement. Szczesny had become a liability and had to be dropped.

For most of the first half the season, many Arsenal fans had taken to social media to point at that Szczesny was a clown. And that Wenger was being his normal loyal, idiotic self, by keeping with him despite a string of high profile errors.

After Southampton, he was dropped to the bench for the rest of the Premier League season, with David Ospina replacing him in goal. It was tough to find a fan who disagreed with the decision. Many said it should have been earlier.

That season, Szczesny played in the FA Cup run. Fans were still being highly critical of Wenger and Szczesny when it was the Poles name who appeared on the team sheet for the 2015 FA Cup Final.

The summer of 2015 saw Petr Cech join Arsenal. Arsenal fans were elated. Finally Wenger had acted. He had realised that the clown Szczesny was never going to be good enough, he had got in a world class keeper from a rival, and all that was left to do was to ship out Szczesny as quickly as possible.

Szczesny joined Italian side Roma on a season long loan. This ended up becoming a 2 year loan.

During the time, he showed exactly what he had shown for Arsenal. Capable of making world class saves, but also capable of silly errors that cost goals, cost games.

In December 2015, he was dropped for Morgan De Sanctis for a league game against Atalanta after again being caught smoking following a 6–1 loss to Barcelona. Déjà vu?

Role forward to today and Arsenal are finally selling a man who has not been part of the first XI (bar cups) at Arsenal for 2 and a half years. And as expected, the narrative has changed.

Rather than people wishing Szczesny well, and being happy that we have got £10m for a player in his last year of the contract, people are moaning.

Suddenly I see people, who were highly critical of him in 2015, labeling him as the best keeper in Europe.

Good enough to replace Buffon, not good enough for the buffoon Wenger

Well let’s get a few things straight:

  1. Buffon will be the Juventus number one next season. Szczesny will be number 2. He might replace Buffon when he retires, he might not
  2. Szczesny had 1 year on his contract, and wanted to join Juventus as number 2, rather than be Arsenal number 2
  3. He is certainly not the best keeper in Europe. He would still not even be one of the top 5 keepers in the Premier League

Interestingly, a lot of people claiming that he is the best in Europe are doing it without having seen him play for Roma. They are basing it on statistics. These are the same people that would laugh at you if you ever said Giroud is one of the best strikers in Europe based on statistics supplied by the same company.

You can not judge a player on statistics they will say. Despite them doing that when it comes to Szczesny.

To reiterate, Szczesny is still a great shot stopper. But still has a tendency to lose concentration. Will still drop crosses. Still can not kick. And will still make errors that lead to goals.

Maybe Szczesny is suffering from the Michael Carrick affect. The less he plays, the less people see him play, the better he gets. Forgetting the reasons why he doesn’t play, or was sold.

It is like when Chris and Olivia on Love Island went on a break. They lasted barely 24 hours before they were all over each other again. Being apart, even just for the day, had made them lust for each other even more. They forgot why they had split up to begin with, and got back together. But then when they were together again, the old faults reared their head, reminding them both why they were incompatible.

Olivia and Chris got back together, and within 48 hours, were at each others throats again. The same will be with Szczesny. Fans have forgotten why he was discarded in the first place. Had he returned we would all have been giddy with excitement again. Until he makes that first error. And all the old, bad, memories flood back.

I have found it interesting following social media today. In summary it has been:

2015: Wenger picks Szczesny “What are you doing picking that clown”
2017: Wenger sells Szczesny “What are you doing selling the best GK in Europe”

Are you a fan who changes the narrative to suit an agenda? If you are, I probably do not care for your opinion. As it is not balanced.



Arsenal set to SELL 4 this week

Arsene Wenger is doing the proverbial “get HR to sack an employee you don’t like whilst you are on holiday” as Arsenal are set to say goodbye to 4 players this week whilst the majority of the squad and management of the club are sunning themselves in China.

Wojciech Szczesny is set to finally complete his move to Juventus for £10m.

A lot of people recently have been defending the Big Pole and saying Arsenal should not sell him. They have also questioned how low his transfer fee is. Unfortunately, you can not force a player to stay if he does not want too.

Szczesny’s contract runs out in a year, after which he could leave on a free. No matter how often fans stick on Twitter or Facebook that Ospina is leaving and Cech getting old, we should keep Szczesny who can replace Cech, you can not do much when the player himself wants to leave.

This is also why the fee is so low. Juventus want him, he wants Juventus. With a year left on his contract, Arsenal did not have much power when it came to negotiations. Of course, some will say that he should never have been allowed to go down to his last year, but this is a man who has spent the last 2 seasons on loan. A new contract would not have been considered by either party.

Could Arsenal have sold him 2 years ago? Perhaps. But only loan deals came in for him at the time. Same as last year. And I guess the thinking was that there is still a chance after his loan deal that he might end up staying. He did not, and we are selling him to Juventus.

£10m is not that much in the current climate when Jordan Pickford is going for £30m.

Arsenal need to move on to get stronger, and unfortunately Szczesny is part of the Wilshere / Walcott group of players that were perhaps never quite good enough. Never had the right mental attributes to become truly world class.

I am disappointed in this one as having watched England at the recent U21 tournament, Chambers showed his quality. But then it has to be remembered that this is at a youth level.

The problem for Arsenal is that they have two very good, young centre backs in Chambers and Rob Holding. Both need development, and both need game time to develop. As Manchester United showed when they were trying to develop both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, this is not easy. And looking at both Jones and Smalling’s career, you have to wonder if they both hindered each others development.

You can often only give game time to one youngster, especially at centre back, so one had to go.

A loan deal would have perhaps been preferable for Arsenal again, but this would possibly not have been the ideal deal for Calum Chambers.

Chambers does have an outside shot at making the plane for England in Russia 2018, but he will only get that shot if he plays week in week out in the Premier League. He will get that chance at someone like Crystal Palace. And playing underneath a ball playing centre back like Frank de Boer will be good for his career.

If you look at the situation coldly, Chambers is currently Arsenal’s 8th choice centre back, with Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal and new boy Sead Kolasinac ahead of him.

Before you point out that Monreal and Kolasinac are left backs. You are correct, but at 3 at the back, one will play on the left side of the back 3. And if that one is injured, the other will drop inside to replace them. The left footed-ness gives the defence essential balance.

An argument could be made against keeping Per Mertesacker and Gabriel ahead of Calum Chambers.

Mertesacker has a year left at Arsenal before moving into a coaching role. He was immense in the Cup Final, and his experience and leadership will be important. He will be a big part of Rob Holding’s development, and likely to play alongside him in the Europa League.

Personally I would have preferred to keep Chambers over Gabriel. But if one payer is knocking on your door asking to leave, and you have clubs interested in him, and the other player is content to stay as a squad player, and there is zero interest, it leaves you with little option.

I do worry about cover at right back. Chambers would have been Hector Bellerin’s cover in this position, and with him going, and 2 more right backs potentially set to leave, it results in Arsenal just having the Spanish as a natural right back.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can play at right wing back, if we go for a back 3, and Mustafi has played right back for Germany, so there is cover. I imagine Ainsley Naitland-Miles or Reiss Nelson will be given the chance in the Europa League and League Cup.

My only hope is that with Chambers, we have a buy back clause, as within 3 seasons, Mertesacker will be gone, and Koscielny on his last legs. If he does develop and fulfil his potential, a Calum chambers in 3 years time could be the ideal signing for Arsenal.

When we signed Chambers, he was a huge investment, a surprise. At least we are getting our money back and more.

Arsenal also look set to finally get Mathieu Debuchy off the wage bill. The Frenchman’s Arsenal career never really took off, for a multitude of reasons. He has had a lot of bad luck in his Arsenal career.

A lot of fans will label Debuchy’s 3 year career at Arsenal as a flop, after just 13 league games in 3 years. But this is a man who arrived as France’s first choice right back, had some horrendous injuries, and ended up giving way for Hector Bellerin. He was just unlucky in his situation.

At 31, a return to French football with Nice on a free transfer is good for all parties, as Arsenal slash £70,000 off their wage bill.

The last player set to say his goodbyes this week is Kieran Gibbs.

It is incredible to think that Gibbs made his Arsenal debut 10 years ago, yet some still talk about him having potential. He is 28 in September and his career has ground to a halt in recent years.

The talent with Gibbs has always been there, the fitness not so much. And that is what has let him down over the years.

Recent years, he has fallen behind Nacho Monreal in the pecking order. The signing of Sead Kolasinac – the who made the Bundesiliga team of the year last year – was the final nail in the coffin for Gibbs.

There seem to be plenty of suitors for the Englishman, and he will have his choice of whoever meets the £10m asking price.

Alongside the likes of Walcott, Szczesny & Wilshere, he is another one who has underachieved. Your mind go’s back 4 years to that picture of young, English players signing a new contract, and have to wonder what happened.

We might all have our opinion on why the careers of Szczesny, Chambers, Gibbs and Debuchy, and whether they should have been kept or sold earlier.

I look at it with an open mind. We are set to raise £40m and save £215,000 a week in wages by selling our 3rd choice keeper, 8th choice centre back, 3rd choice left back, and our 4th choice right back. As long as we spend what we bring in, that is a good deal.

By the time we sell on Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere, Lucas Perez and Joel Campbell, that will be nearly £25,000,000 wiped off our wage bill in 8 players that started a combined total of 12 league games last year.

Hopefully the club is clearing out the surplus players and will redistribute the saved wages to those that deserve it (Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil) as well as get in a few more senior players.


Some Alexis Sanchez thoughts…

The Alexis Sanchez saga is set to be an epic, likely to roll on for the entire summer as he tries to get himself the best deal possible.

Sanchez wants to win trophies, but he also realises he is perhaps set to sign the last big contract of his career, so money and duration is equally as important. Here are a few of my thoughts.

If Arsenal get a big offer – we are talking £50m+ – from abroad, we would sell. There is no point keeping a player who does not want to stay at the club, especially someone as openly emotional as Alexis Sanchez. Even if Arsene Wenger does not want to sell hi, his hand could be forced by the board – £50m is a lot of money to turn away.

The two problems are:

  1. Will a side be willing to offer Arsenal £50m?
  2. Will a side offer Sanchez the terms he wants?

On the first point, in the current market, £50m would be a steal for one of the best attacking talents in the world. On paper (yes, I have been watching a lot of Love Island) it is a no brainer.

But then Sanchez is 29 in December. His game relies on him being dynamic. He relies a lot on pace and acceleration. As he gets older, these attributes diminish quickly.

Players who rely a lot on explosiveness deteriorate quickly – Freddie Ljungberg the perfect example.

Ljungberg was a limited football, but was lightening over 10 metres. This made him so dangerous. But as soon as he lost this lightening spring, he was done as a football.

Sanchez has more to his game than Ljungberg, but will still deteriorate when his pace and explosiveness go’s. Think Thierry Henry or Fernando Torres.

Whilst Sanchez is an extremely skilful player, he does not have attributes to play Number 10 once his legs go. He does not have the first touch, vision or passing to play in the most congested position on the field. You only have to see how often he gives the ball away – more than any other player in the Premier League – to realise he would struggle in behind a striker. He does not have the technique of a Dennis Bergkamp or Mesut Ozil. Even the likes of Juan Mata and Jack Wilshere would be better suited to the tight spaces behind a striker than Alexis Sanchez.

So for £50m, a side would be buying an ageing, explosively talented who, at any point, could fall off the cliff. It is why the likes of Bayern Munich are not interested. He is not as technically good as Arjen Robben or Frank Ribeiry. It is doubtful if he will be able to adjust his game sufficiently to still be an asset once his legs go.

Of course, over the next 4 years, his legs might not go. And anyway, the likes of Manchester City can easily afford to sign a player for £50, just to get 2 years out of him at the top level. Look at how much they have wasted over the years. The £100s of millions they have written off on players mot good enough.

Reports are (and they are just reports) that Manchester City are willing to pay Alexis Sanchez £300k and offer him a 3 year deal. This would protect Manchester City against the potential drop off that Sanchez might suffer as he passes 30.

Sanchez is apparently holding demanding a 4 year deal, remembering that it is his last

Alongside a £50m transfer fee, Manchester City’s 3 year deal for Alexis Sanchez would cost them £96,800,000 in total – £50m in transfer fees, £46,800,000 in wages. This would amount to 8.2% of Manchester City’s yearly turnover across the next 3 years.

Were Manchester City to bow down to Alexis Sanchez’s 4 year demand, his contract would be worth £62,400,000. A total of £112,400,000 across a 4 year period. Affordable to Manchester City, yes, but a big chunk of cash that they would have little to no chance of recouping in a sale.

Arsenal meanwhile have an ace up their sleeve when it comes to contract offers.

Without having to pay a transfer fee, Arsenal could potentially give Alexis Sanchez the 4 year deal he is demanding.

We Arsenal to offer Sanchez a 4 year deal at £250,000 a week, the total payment to Sanchez would be £52m. That is £5.2m more than Sanchez would earn over a 3 year deal playing for Manchester City.

This is where Sanchez has to think about the long term.

Over the first 3 years of the deal, he would earn more at Manchester City. But once that contract comes to an end, Sanchez would be 32 years old. Would he be able to secure a deal elsewhere on £100,000 a week? And what if his legs go completely? He certainly would not earn that returning to Chile. So he might be better off signing a deal at a lower wage with Arsenal which last longer, and over the period of his contract, earns him more.

It would also give Arsenal an opportunity to move Sanchez on after 2 (or 3) years if he does begin to deteriorate. In 2 years time, he would still be able to make a big money move to China. Another last contract and Arsenal would be able to get a bit of cash in.

Were Arsenal to offer Sanchez a 4 year deal at £250k a week, the total cost to the club (excluding tax) would be £52m. Arsenal would look to spend that much on a transfer fee alone to replace Sanchez. Add wages on top, replacing Sanchez would cost Arsenal in the region of £80-90m, and we would be getting in a player who is probably not as good, and probably more of an unknown.

If Sanchez turns down a decent offer for Arsenal, he knows where the door is. Arsenal are capable of offering Sanchez a decent contract, a decent length, and trophies (3 FA Cups in 4 years remember – City have won 1 League Cup in 3 years).

I also think that Sanchez staying or going has no bearing on Thomas Lemar joining.

Thomas Lemar is just 21 years old. You can easily rotate him, Sanchez and Ozil in a two behind the striker, keeping all 3 happy, whilst giving all 3 a rest when needed. And if we return to 3 behind a striker, he would start every single time.

It would also allow Lemar to develop at his own pace, and hide in the shadows behind Ozil and Sanchez in the short term, before taking over from one (or both) of them in a couple of years time when, still lat just 23 year old, he would potentially be on of the best players in the world.

And unlike Sanchez, Lemar has the technique to play Number 10.

So my final thought of the day. Offer Sanchez 4 years at £250k. Sign Lemar. If Sanchez rejects the deal, with have his replacement in place. If he accepts it, we have squad depth and could then flog Sanchez in 2/3 years knowing we have a player ready to step up and be world class.