Strewth, it’s quiet.
In fact, there’s been a whiff of close season to things. Partly I suppose because we’ve got the weekend off, and partly because losing to Barcelona seems to have kicked off some early transfer speculation.
Why is this when there’s still so much to play for? Partly, it’s natural to wonder how you can improve things when you’ve been as outplayed as we were over most of the two legs against Barcelona.
And partly, perhaps, because it’s a World Cup year, when the rules for transfers seem to change slightly. On the one hand you have players that clubs are keen to sign early, before the tournament, so that their value does not rise should they show explosive form.
On the other hand, you’ve got the clubs who will keep their powder dry until the tournament is over, hoping to unearth a gem (or ensure that the player they had their eye on before the tournament does not rupture something during it).
Looking back to the last World Cup in 2006, we signed Tomas Rosicky on 23rd May – a signing that fits neatly into the former category. Unfortunately, the rest of the summer’s ins and outs were slightly less tidy.
In fact it was frenzied, late and involved Panini-like swapsies. Reyes was loaned to Real Madrid, with Baptista coming our way in return, on transfer deadline day. On the same day, we sold Cole and bought Gallas.
However, there were extenuating circumstances to events that year. We’d just lost the European Cup final, and that triggered another round of Invincible dismantling. As well as Cole and Reyes, out went Campbell, Pires and Lauren.
We also moved stadium – another sweep for the broom of change.
I don’t expect the kind of wholesale changes that we saw that summer this time round, as the squad is settled and growing. There will inevitably be some departures, but the only key player who I can see leaving is Gallas. I don’t see Fabregas going anywhere, least of all to Man City, though a summer of speculation is a dead cert.
Anyway, what I think I’m trying to get at is we might see a signing sooner rather than later – perhaps a month or six weeks from now. Wenger is the kind of manager who likes things decided sooner rather than later if he can.
He’ll definitely want to avoid a manic final day of trading on 31st August…