It does seem to have been a cracking week for real and imaginary Arsenal news.
We’ve had the exit of two established, experienced players – and yet, for the most part, Arsenal fans all see the logic of both sales. Put bluntly, Wenger wanted to sell both Adebayor and Toure, and has done so with bells on, making around £40m. Terrific business, in truth.
Toure goes with more goodwill than his Togolese predecessor – much more. Reports suggest the deal has been on the cards for six months, and that makes sense, given he handed in a transfer request back in January. A good deal for both parties, but a sad day for those of a sentimental hue, given Toure’s association with the Invincibles of 2004.
A lot has been written about Wenger’s transfer nous, and there’s no denying it’s spectacular. To get the money he got for Adebayor and Toure was staggering – especially as there was hardly a bidding war for either.
But just as there’s no point in being the richest man in the cemetery, there’s no merit in having the biggest bank balance in the Premier League. Wenger knows this only too well, but the question is: does he genuinely think the squad as it stands is competitive enough, or is he Wengering like mad, as he always does, by giving little away?
Like for like, right now, the current squad has five more players than the squad that started last season – Vermaelen, Senderos, Arshavin, Rosicky and Eduardo. And it’s two down, with Ade and Kolo departing. Added to that are all the things harder to measure, such as improvements in Song, Ramsey, Denilson, Walcott etc.
That doesn’t hide the lack of physical oomph and experienced heads in the centre of midfield. Or that Wenger seems nonchalant about replacing Adebayor.
Nevertheless, Wenger insists the side is good enough and that he won’t be rushed into things – but he also says he’s looking at possibilities. It’s classic Wenger. So it goes without saying that there’s zero point in judging the squad or getting on one’s high horse about a perceived lack of transfer activity (at least, transfer activity going in the right direction), until the clock chimes midnight on 31st August.
Besides, it’s not like there’s not stuff bubbling away to keep us interested. Eboue seems on the verge of a departure – another exit I find hard to disapprove of – and this morning, NewsNow and Twitter melted down with talk of Vieira making an improbable prodigal return. Tonight, it’s Blaise Matuidi again – tomorrow it will be someone else.
We can be ‘ready to swoop’ or ‘about to pounce’ until the cows come home – Wenger won’t tell us one way or another.
But to all those who think Wenger is too blindly loyal, the sales of Adebayor, Toure and – possibly – Eboue point to a harder edge. Wenger is offloading what he doesn’t want.
And when he does that willingly, he rarely makes a mistake.