My first post about Higuain possibly joining Arsenal was on 24th May 2013. Considering I am slow on the uptake that means the rumours started at least 7 weeks ago. Or over 49 days ago. Or 1,185 hours ago. You get the message.
Clearly, the deal isn’t happening now. Not even Arsenal, who have a record of f*cking up transfer deals would take this long on a successful transfer. Like Cahill, Jagielka, Mata and others before them, we have yet again failed to capture a quality signing.
We’ve been linked with so many names this summer it’s unreal. More than Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid combined. If you believed the media, they would tell you we’ve been “linked” with Fernando Torres, Gareth Barry, Wayne Rooney, Lars Bender, Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, Ashley Williams, Julio Cesar and Marouane Fellaini. And I’m sure I’ve missed off a few names from that list.
And of those “linked” players it seems as if we’ve genuinely been interested in at least a couple of them. But reports of not wanting to pay the release clause fee (Fellaini) or the asking price (Williams) or just simply putting in low offers that will never be accepted (Suarez) are all to common.
I don’t think there’s a club in the world that has used so many excuses not to successfully sign a player.
But I think there is a bigger problem we face.
We cannot sign anyone of top class quality anymore. It’s just not possible.
The main reason is we don’t appeal to players who have ambition at the highest level, and are merely a stepping stone for players from “lesser” clubs. Look at the signings we have made over the last few seasons, they include Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Gervinho, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta. While they are very good players, and some have done outstandingly well for us, they are not players of the very highest calibre. They are very good players, but not players you would find in the Premier League’s team of the season.
Just look at the clubs we purchased those players from. They include FC Koln, Montpellier, Lille, Lorient, Werder Bremen, Malaga and Everton. For those players, joining Arsenal is definitely a step up. However, if you’re already at Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City (like Higuain, Torres, Suarez and Barry) then why would you join Arsenal? Is it really a step up? And in all honesty, in a sport which is dominated by money then why would they even consider taking a pay cut?
Most footballers now are mercenaries, who would rather see out their contract (Malouda for example) than move on and play somewhere else for less money. Gone are the days of Ray Parlour who famously didn’t even read his contracts and just asked where to sign.
When we won trophies we were an attractive team to join. We already had world class players like Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams and David Seaman, and over the years brought in players of the calibre of Marc Overmars, Thierry Henry, Davor Suker, Nwankwo Kanu, Robert Pires, Sylvain Wiltord, Jose Antonio Reyes and Sol Campbell. And we also managed to attract young talent such as Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie who would develop into world class footballers.
But since our 8 year slump that’s all stalled. We attract decent players who are on the second tier of quality and do very well, but aren’t from the top shelf. If we were going to use the shopping analogy, we’ve been buying our groceries from Tesco, not Waitrose. If we were an action movie it would be starring Steven Seagal, not The Rock.
But how can we turn this all around? For the first time in a while, we seem to have a solution to stop this vicious circle of mediocrity. We have a “war chest” and at last, some financial clout in the transfer market.
The big question is though, are we ever going to actually use it?