There was a time when I spent a few hours every day browsing the Arsenalsphere. In the last 10 days or so I don’t think I have totaled an hour of surfing. There is so little going on.
First a random player is linked. Then the supposed transfer moves forward. One day, according to unsubstantiated reports, a player is close to signing as terms are settled. Then he miraculously vanishes from the news cycle for a few days. Another quote appears out of nowhere and the cycle repeats. I have lost count of the number of times Hazard was close to a move, Gervinho more recently, Samba, and so on.
Then there are the usual Cesc stories with some Nasri ones thrown in for additional flavour.
The part that surprised me was that right now the only feeling I have is boredom. No excitement, no anguish, no hope, no anxiety, nothing.
I don’t know the exact reason for this. In the past the Cesc stories used to leave me on edge. Now I am pretty certain where all parties stand on this issue. The Daily Noise doesn’t mean anything at all even if it includes a joke of a bid, and a mild rebuttal followed by senseless overanalyses.
I guess the other reason could be that having seen the transfer activity of various teams over the last few years and the results of those, I just don’t care much about most of these stories. As I’d mentioned earlier, Nasri leaving the club doesn’t bother me. In the same vein, the likes of Samba, Cahill, Gervinho, et al. signing for Arsenal will not be a big deal either. This isn’t likely to be a popular opinion but I don’t see any of them significantly improving the Gunners.
One thought, or a question, that has been ingrained in my mind for a while now is – Can Arsenal really afford the truly big signings?
Pastore, Neymar, Alexis Sanchez, and similar players are being valued at astronomical sums despite the fact that they are yet to prove themselves at the highest level. The fact that clubs like City, Chelsea, and Real can pay a king’s ransom makes it hard for Arsenal to compete for any player with genuine class and real quality.
While few really know what’s going to happen, most of us can reasonably guess that teams will be busier in this transfer window as the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules come into effect. In the coming years we will know how meaningful these rules turn out to be and whether the administrators have the courage and sense to enforce them or not, but this window will certainly be a crazy one for buyers and sellers.
Those with precious goods might feel this is their last chance to sell for a big profit. Those in the market might want to pick up the loot before the stores close.
Arsenal seem to have three choices; to buy overpriced players from the Premier League, to scour the earth for undervalued talent, or to compete with the moneybags on their strengths.
Gary Cahill is an excellent example of the first option. I wonder why Mancini hasn’t signed him yet. Is he relying on Lescott to perform next season? Won’t Toure be missing a number of games at the start? The reported £17-20M range can’t be a deterrent for the well-oiled finances of City. Could it be that he has learnt his lesson after looking at the likes of Lescott and Milner? One could also wonder why Ferguson paid a similar fee for a younger player with limited experience?
We have seen the results of the second option. Arsene is by far the best at scouting and identifying unpolished gems but the approach is inherently risky and doesn’t always pay off. So someone like Ricky Alvarez might look like a talent on youtube, but it is hard to form an opinion before watching him perform while dealing with the rough and tumble of the English game.
I have maintained for a while that in order to win the big trophies Arsenal need at least one player capable of winning the Player of the Year award. I’d love the next Ronaldinho or Kaka to come to the Gunners but that would put us in the third bracket. Honestly, I cannot see us competing against City, Chelsea, or the likes. That’s all the more reason for Cesc and RvP to stay fit and deliver, but these things are beyond our powers sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not an attempt to say that there is no hope of improving this team, or that Arsenal don’t need new players. In a way I am just trying to understand this unbearable ennui. Those who have been following the transfer saga for years might be better accustomed to it but I have only had access to the web and these news sources for the last few years. Initially, I used to get sucked into it and reacted to every article. Over the years different patterns have come to the fore. Now it feels like being in a locked room with nothingness personified and floating around all around me, hammering my brain with an empty hammer that seems to bear the weight of the world. Strangely enough, it no longer hurts but there are times when I find it hard to breathe. The only viable option, and one that I am about to revert to the moment I publish this piece, is to run away from it all and immerse myself in something else, anything but this.