â€œFor the first time in a while, I will be very activeâ€
With these dozen words, spoken at the tail end of May, Wenger has kicked off a fascinating close season. I didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d be enjoying it one bit, but I appear to be doing just that.
How so? Given that as much of the current transfer eddy is whirling around players who might depart as it is around players who might join, youâ€™d have thought the whole rumour mill would be too hair-tearing for words.
I think the difference this summer is that the perception of change is in the air. Wengerâ€™s mentioned it, Gazidis followed that up in his AST Q&A (â€œIt is very clear we had some shortcomings and in this close season we are going to see some turnover of playersâ€). Iâ€™ll eat my Kenny Sansom flat hat if we tread as cautiously as we have done in the last few summers. It feels like thereâ€™s stuff happening. Real, actual stuff. (No disrespect meant, Carl. Youâ€™re welcome too).
From a PR perspective as well as a team perspective, itâ€™s like a waft of fresh air. Even if most of it is hot air, it feels pleasant enough on the face.
Does it matter if the speed of incomings is faster elsewhere? Not really; these things can take time. So long as the business is done then it would be churlish to moan. Sure, it would be better to have the squad trimmed and tidied soon rather than frantically sending faxes (they still send faxes!) at 11.55pm on 31st August, particularly if weâ€™re talking of a squad that could see four or five go and four or five come in.
What about those linked with going? Cesc would be a mammoth loss so that needs sorting sooner rather than later, if only to size up a replacement. Iâ€™m glad heâ€™s happy at Arsenal but thereâ€™s a clear â€˜butâ€™ in there. If there was a magic potion to make this particular story not drag on all summer, Iâ€™d have a swig.
Nasri, well we shall see. As I said before, itâ€™d not surprise me if he got what he wants from Arsenal – or most of it. Whether he deserves it or has earned it, well thatâ€™s open to debate. But I think keeping him, right now, is the easier option than selling and replacing him. So we shall see.
Clichy looks gone. Heâ€™s a good left-back but is he the best? I guess the proof would come six months after heâ€™d gone once weâ€™d had the chance to measure up his replacement. Heâ€™s certainly not as good a left-back as his predecessor.
As for signings, central defence – tick. Striker/winger – tick. Both areas have players linked.
Goalie? I doubt it. I think Szczesny is number one and Fabianski his back-up.
The other area that needs some old heads is central midfield. Weâ€™ve not been linked with that many players there. Larsson? Hmm. That doesnâ€™t feel like an upgrade, it feels like a sidegrade.