Tag Archives: Osumane Dembele

Should Arsenal sign “indisciplined” £122,000,000 star?

Ousmane Dembélé is a talented kid. That is not up for debate. But he is a troubled star who reminds me of a young Mario Balotelli.

Genuinely two-footed, quick, skilful, strong and technically solid, the Frenchman should be the next global star in football, following Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

It is his natural attributes that saw Barcelona pay Borussia Dortmund €105 million plus a reported €40 million add-ons for the then 20-year-old after just a single season with the German club. He was supposed to be a short term replacement of Neymar, a long term replacement for Messi.

Dembele had gone on strike at Dortmund in an attempt to force the deal through, with team-mate Roman Weidenfeller saying the Frenchman did not even bother to collect his boots. There were warning signs.

In fact, his issues were prior to his days at Dortmund when he refused to sign a professional contract with boyhood club Rennes.

Despite getting his desired move, things have not really gone to plan for Dembele in Spain, with injuries and apparent attitude problems hampering his progress, regardless of a recent upturn.

Dembele is reported to have turned up late for training more than once – including turning up 2 hours late earlier this week.

Last month he was left out of the side for their Champions League clash against Inter Milan after skipping a team meeting.

A few weeks ago the 21-year-old was left out of the squad completely for a game against Real Betis after failing to show up to training.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has recently commented about Dembele having ongoing “indiscipline”.

Urbano Ortega, who was key in bringing the player to Barcelona, blamed his “entourage” in a recent interview – which brings back memories of another talented and temperamental young Frenchman. Nicolas Anelka.

“We already knew about how he was and about his entourage. In fact he had already had problems at Rennes, where he didn’t want to sign the professional contract at first. We had good information about him at the technical level and some facts about his indiscipline due to his youth and because of the people that surround him, which do not help him at times,” recalled Ortega in an interview with Catalan radio programme, Esports Cope.

The hope with him is that he is young and naive, and if he grows up he will be a world superstar. But the same was thought about Anelka and Balotelli. Neither had the career they should have done.

In 2017 Barcelona took the risk and went big on him. If he is available in the summer, should Arsenal repeat that risk?

Despite his problems at Barcelona, he will still cost a huge amount. We are talking about £70-80million. This is a huge outlay considering his issues.

You also have the impact he could have on squad moral.

Arsenal currently have a fabulous team spirit, but one bad apple can soon change that. With the side have so many talented young players – Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emile Smith Rowe and the returning Reiss Nelson – would it be sensible to add a problematic player with attitude problems to that group?

Arsenal do have some senior French-born players. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have taken Guendouzi under their wing. The hope would be that they could be a positive influence. That if he befriends these players, they could clip his wings a little, and maybe move him away from the troublesome entourage that Ortega speaks about.

But the risks are huge.

Like with Balotelli, the clubs willing to take a risk reduces every time a player moves but his behaviour remains unchanged.

Liverpool ended up releasing Balotelli after 2 seasons. He had played 16 league games; scoring just 1 goal. They wrote off £16million and a huge chunk in wages.

Dembele is currently reportedly on £200,000 a week at Barcelona.

Would Arsenal really want to invest a huge transfer (£70million) and tie up a further £52million (£200,000 a week on a 5 year deal) in Dembele? It would be a huge £122,000,000 risk

At those wages, Arsenal would struggle to recoup too much of the transfer fee if he does not settle, if he continues with the same behavioural issues as he has shown in Spain and Germany.

Looking forward 2 years, if he is still a problem child, who would pay Arsenal big money to take him on? The fear is Arsenal end up with a bad apple on huge wages that we are unable to sell.

If he does grow up, we would have a world class player on our hands. But Dembele is 22 at the end of this season. He has to grow up sooner rather than later.

Signing Dembele would be a huge financial risk for Arsenal. I am not sure if we should take it (but would be excited if we did).


Aaron Ramsey, Ousmane Dembele and future Arsenal wingers

After the joy of watching England over the summer, the national team has reverted to type since.

Gareth Southgate has lost almost all of the good will gained due to the decision to pick Wayne Rooney for a goodbye cap, make Fabian Delph captain, and select some horrendously average players – the likes of Delph, Michael Keane, Lewis Dunk and Harry Winks.

I did not watch last night games. I could not care less for it. Mainly due to the Rooney fiasco, but also due to what Southgate is doing to the national team at the moment.

Anyway, it has been the dullest of dull interlulls, but yesterday we had a bit of breaking news as Aaron Ramsey was close to agreeing a deal to join Bayern Munich next summer on a free transfer.

These things do have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Ramsey is not actually allowed to discuss anything with a foreign club until January 1st. Although I am not naive enough to think that his people have not spoken to top clubs around Europe.

Moving to Munich would (and would not) make sense for him. I would be very surprised if he moves abroad with such a young family – his wife gave birth to twins a month ago.

However Munich seems like a good fit, and I can see him doing very well in Germany.

They are one of the few clubs that would pay him what he wants, and with James Rodriguez likely to leave and Thomas Muller seemingly shot, you can see Ramsey starting in the advanced midfield position he thrives in.

There are a couple of bellends at games who seem to laugh at booing him. Whilst he wears an Arsenal shirt, we should be backing him. And remember it is Arsenal’s decision to let him go, not his decision to leave.

I wish him luck if he joins Munich.

Other news surrounds Ousmane Dembele.

A few days ago he was heavily linked with Liverpool. I posed the question on Twitter as to whether Arsenal should be in for him at a similar price in January.

The result was close, but ultimately the British people voted to leave Europe the majority would take him.

At £85m, he would take up almost all of our summer 2019 transfer funds, especially when you take into account that he is rumoured to be on £220k a week at Barcelona.

Despite this, I would still move for him.

Next season we need two wingers, a left back and a centre back. If we assume Reiss Nelson is going to continue his fine form and development in Germany, we can assume that between him and Alex Iwobi we have the right hand side locked down. Nelson will save us £30+.

What that means is we could double up on the left hand side. use the funds we would have assigned to signing a right winger and put them towards the left winger.

attempted to do some back of the fag packet maths yesterday to show how we can sign Dembele and still have enough in the pot to secure the centre back and left back we need:

Before people get hung up on the left back, I have since changed my opinion, that we should offer Nacho Monreal one more year, cash in on Kolasinac, and buy a left back who has the potential to be long term first choice. But that is a debate for another day.

I might attempt to expand on what Arsenal can and can not buy another day.

Whilst we are talking about wingers, I encourage you to read this excellent blog by Jorge Bird detailing the talented young wingers in Arsenal’s youth teams.

I have seen our youth play a few times recently, certainly not as much as Jorge (or JW who blogs here), and we do seem to have a lot of the same type of players coming through.

We have an abundance of rapid wide men throughout our youth system, but they are also technically excellent.

Nelson aside, the two I am most excited by Xavier Amaechi and Bukayo Saka.

Amaechi is a left winger and some have claimed that he is the quickest player at the club. Currently injured, he has a big future and next year would be knocking on the door of the first team squad for the summer tour and League Cup games.

Still just 17, he has a bright future. Will we follow the same route as Nelson with him? Send him abroad a year where his sort of talent does not get kicked out of him (unlike in the Championship), before he returns to Arsenal for 2020/21 to compete for a place on Arsenal’s left hand side.

Coming up behind Amaechi is Saka, who has only just turned 16. The youngster has taken advantage of his older team mates injury to cement a a place in Arsenal’s U23s. He has also appeared for England U19s.

Saka is perhaps a year behind Amaechi in terms of development. Despite both being born in 2001 (how old does that make you feel?), they fall into different English school years. That does have an affect on development and when they could start playing more competitive football.

I expect Saka to continue his development and we will see more of him in the summer of 2020, before he pushes into the first team in 2021.

That might seem a long time away, but Saka will still just be 19 when the 2021/22 season starts!

What is exciting is underneath Alex Iwobi, we have 3 very talented wingers in Nelson, Amaechi and Saka, all of whom will be given time to develop and make an impact over the next 2 or 3 years.

That’s all from me today, the cricket is on and I have some cleaning to do. Enjoy your day!


Arsenal sign proper defender

After the free transfer of Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus, and German keeper Bern Leno, Arsenal have finally completed the deal taking Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund to North London.

The Greek international centre back becomes the 3rd ex-Dortmund player to join the club since the appoint of Sven Mislintat – joining January signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan & Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The 30 year old defender brings with him a wealth of experience.

Having started his career in Greece, he became AEK’s youngest-ever captain, at age 19. A move to Genoa in Italy followed, before he joined AC Milan at 21 for €14 million.

A year later, due to the complexity of deals in Italy, Sokratis returned to Genoa as part of a 8 man deal to solve player ownership issues between the two clubs.

Genoa immediately sold him to Werder Bremen, before Mislintat recruitment him to Dortmund.

After 7 years playing first team football in the Bundesliga, and 79 international caps for Greece, Arsenal are signing the experienced leader at the back we have lacked in recent years.

Raphael Honigstein, a self titled ‘German football expert’ explained recently what Arsenal are going to get:

“They liked his attitude, he’s a fighter, he’s a warrior but not too great on the ball. By and large, not the kind of player that gets you excited. Very tidy, very energetic, tough in a tackle, but I’m not sure he’s necessarily going to take the Arsenal defence to the next level.”

Reading it through, the first half gets you excited. We have lacked a fighter, a warrior at the back. Someone who is tidy and energetic, tough in the tackle. Someone who sees defending as the most important job for a centre back. Not trying to bring the ball out.

In the current era of football, we all seem obsessed about ball playing centre backs. The likes of John Stones. And sides seem too willing to ignore the dirty side of the game, the actual defending.

What is odd is Honigstein then says he is not “going to take the Arsenal defence to the next level.”

This is where Honigstein shows he is perhaps shows that whilst he might be an expert on German football, he is perhaps not an expert on what Arsenal. He has inadvertently described exactly what the Gunners have desperately needed for a few years.

When was the last time we had a tough tackling centre back? A fighter? A warrior at the back? Someone happy sticking the ball into row Z rather then trying to bring it down and play?

Look back at the Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid. Would Antoine Greizmann have scored the equaliser in Islington if we had Sokratis at the back rather than Laurent Koscielny?

The Arsenal captain tried to bring the ball down and turn Griezmann in one move. He could have easily passed it back to David Ospina, or hoofed the ball out of play for a throw in or corner. Koscielny wanted to do the sexy stuff, not the dirty stuff. Sokratis would have cleared that ball.

Sokratis former manager at Dortmund, and Unai emery’s replacement at PSG Thomas Tuchel said  “He’s a little obsessed with defending. He wants to protect the goal-line no matter what and he’s hungry to face duels,”

“The defensive work that Sokratis puts in is just unbelievable,” added former team mate Mats Hummels.

A warrior, a fighter, tough in the tackle, obsessed with defending, keeping that clean sheet. Unbelievable defensive work. Honigstein might not get too excited about this sort of work, but just typing it out is making me wet.

Arsenal are signing a proper defender; not a footballer who can defend, not a ball-playing centre-half, not a converted midfielder, but an actual defender who loves to defend.

It should be exactly the kind of signing that gets Arsenal fans excited.

Since the turn of the year, only Manchester City have scored more Premier League goals than an Arsenal side significantly strengthened by the signings of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, and the return from injury to Alexandre Lacazette.

Previously I mentioned on Twitter how excited we would be if Aubameyang was the first signing of the Emery era. Now he is sexy, someone to get excited about. But he joined in January and the 6 months of Premier League football coupled with no world cup will result in him being ready to go in August.

Whilst the likes of the Lichtsteiner and Sokratis might feel a little underwhelming in contrast, you have to look at the bigger picture.

Are Arsenal stronger than they were when the transfer window closed in August 2017?

It is clear that head of recruitment Mislintat has a picture in his head of what he is doing at Arsenal, and improving the defence is clearly a priority.

Honigstein went on to say that it was “a little bit underwhelming” that Mislintat has signed a series of players from Dortmund, but this is like when people criticised Arsene Wenger for “only buying French” when he first joined. And Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Remi Garde, Gilles Grimandi and Nicolas Anelka turned out all right.

Should Mislintat have pursued players other than Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan  and Sokratis, just to prove that he has a wider knowledge of world football? Should Arsenal not be targeting former Dortmund player Osumane Dembele?

These are players fans of the club have called to sign for years.

We were all disappointed when Mkhitaryan joined Manchester United over Arsenal a few years back, and Aubameyang has been at the top of many fans wish list for a few years. Dembele is another fans called for the club to sign before he joined Barcelona for silly money last summer.

Arsenal are desperate for leadership, physicality and defenders that can defend. In Lichtsteiner and Sokratis, we have secured that.

Now we just need to sort out what sits in front of them and what sits behind.