Phew! Pre-season is here.

So it all kicks off again, at Barnet, this afternoon.

And while the squad does contain the expected Frimpongs, Coquelins and Barazites of this world, it’s a surprisingly strong 21-man squad when you add Rosicky, Arshavin, Gallas, Vermaelen and Almunia.

How marvellous it is to see Tomas Rosicky back. By my reckoning (with a little bit of help from the worldly-wise internest), he has been absent from the pitch for roughly forty-six million, six hundred and fifty-six thousand seconds. The poor fella has had to rehabilitate for 18 long months, and his treadmill-pounding began just when the world went to the financial dogs. It must have been pretty miserable looking at the looped news on Sky on his sofa with his hamstrings all askance.

Anyway, welcome back the T.

From Tomas to Thomas – it’s a big welcome for our Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen. As it stands, he has to battle his way to the front by displacing Toure or Gallas – though I’m sure Gallas and Toure will feel threatened too – so we could see some concentrated minds at the back as the competition for places hots up.

(Incidentally, we do have another top Gunner out there – Thomas Cruise. Who will be his wingman?)

(As if the poor lad hasn’t heard that before).

Finally, and I was rather hoping this would have gone away by now, but I am struck by how much of a PR disaster Emmanuel Adebayor is. He and his ‘people’ have managed to go about this on-off transfer so hamfistedly that, in addition to the already lukewarm Arsenal fans, I can’t imagine Man City fans are wheeling out the brass bands in anticipation of his arrival either.

It’s not as if the non-partisan football fans of the world are looking upon him through soft focus either. The press he has received – whether it is fair or entirely fabricated – does not paint him in a pretty light and his advisors have a job on their hands to turn his reputation around.

Some of it’s been pretty vitriolic. Sure, I’d like to see him sold too, but reading some of the stuff I have read online, you’d think he was the most despised Arsenal footballer of all time. Is he really?

It’s all gone sour with him now, and he needs to move on as much as we would like him to. But he’s hardly the first footballer who wants to feather his nest, nor is he the first employee to wish he worked somewhere else and let his performances dip as a result. His obscene weekly salary does not protect him against that.

What City are taking a punt on is a player who – when his mind is right – has the ability to cause havoc. A player who, even in a bad season, can score 15 goals. For their sake, I just hope he wants the challenge there enough to replicate his form of 2007-8. (Clearly, personally I’d rather he forgot how to tie his shoelaces – that would serve the Arsenal best).

For our sake, I hope he realises that there’s no way back at Arsenal and that moving to City, as his only option, is something he should grasp with both hands and get stuck into.

If we sell, we must buy.

Slow old summer, isn’t it? Other than the Confederations Cup, the U21 finals, Wimbledon, the Lions tour and the Ashes, there’s been almost no sport on the telly at all.

We’re now just six days short of the pre-season curtain-raiser at Barnet though. That came round fast.

What kind of a state are Arsenal in? Well, a year more experienced, plus a big-money defensive signing on the books, that’s where. More movement than some clubs, less than others.

Much of the conjecture at the moment surrounds the supposedly imminent departure of Adebayor. Strange one this: the way the worm has turned with Arsenal fans can be put down to an accumulation of a summer trying to make an exit, a questionable workrate and a blunt interview with Football Focus.

He, to defend himself, would doubtless point to 16 goals in an injury-riddled campaign playing for a side that flattered to deceive. And 30 goals the season before that.

Whatever, his Wayne Bridges have definitely been Bernd Shustered.

I’m not suggesting Arsenal shouldn’t appreciate the reality for what it is and move on without him, but I do think that on a purely footballing level, without a replacement we’re a little too eagerly hanging up the bunting to wave him off. Perhaps the issue of a replacement is what makes this a bit thorny. And perhaps any interest in him – as has been the case so far – is something of a smokescreen with the real targets lying elsewhere. We shall see.

I don’t dislike Adebayor at all – life is too short for that – I just think it’s a shame he turned his talent on and off at will last season and lives – like many footballers do – on a different planet to the rest of us.

It did make me laugh a bit to think that a salary of £170,000 a week might be on offer should a move come to pass. If it were true, it sums the crazy state of football up perfectly.

To ‘reward’ Adebayor for scoring 30 goals, Arsenal doubled his salary last summer.

And now, to ‘reward’ him for being 50% as prolific, City intend to double it again.

Half as good – twice as well rewarded.

Now really, what kind of industry does that? In a time when there’s more than a little anecdotal evidence of fans struggling to take the hit of their season tickets, (one of my fellow Twitterers has been offered seven Arsenal season tickets this summer already), and when plenty of grounds have large tranches of seats empty, footballers, their agents and a handful of clubs carry on regardless in pursuit of ever more wealth. How long can this realistically last?

Too deep a question for a Monday night, methinks.

Another week of transfer fluff

Here we are again, another week on, and the transfer market has hardly broken its moorings as yet. Yes, we’ve seen Man Utd buy two players, Liverpool one, but really, you’re left with the suspicion that there’s a lot more to come.

We’ve got the whole of July before the real pre-season stuff begins, and another month after that for transfers to be done, so clearly, these really are the early stages of squad rebuilding.

That Milan would consider giving us Flamini back to smooth a deal for Adebayor, or that any deal for Melo would be contingent on us giving them Eboue in return is testament to the state of the tabloids at the moment. Bottom line: If it’s too good to be true, then it’s not true.

Since I last passed comment, Arsenal have launched yet another strip – this one white and grey in homage to – erm – post-war austerity?

In homage, of course, to the need to make money. Now, if you feel strongly about these things, try Fork Handles’ shirt boycott. I must confess – and it’s been said before – that I don’t mind the blue shirt. I finally saw someone wearing one today when I took one of the miniature RotorGoats for a spin in the park, and it didn’t melt my eyes. I understand that it’s not Arsenal colours and all that but the bottom line is, I suspect, that for all its tradition, yellow shirts do not sell well and more neutral colours do. We all wear blue and white in day-to-day life, but unless we are stuck in a 1985 timewarp, we tend not to wear yellow shirts. So our new away shirts are what they are in order to sell as many as possible.

Since Arsenal don’t give a fig how many shirts we now have, perhaps we should now bring out a fourth shirt – in deference to the position in the league we have made our own?

I just can’t see it happening

A week since my last post. Not a lot’s happened, that’s why, apart from the now default ‘Fabregas to leave’ rumour (swiftly followed by his denial). Are we going to have more of this? Seems likely – unless he retreats to a monastery and takes a vow of silence.

Some of the more fanciful links see us linked to Benzema (deeply unlikely) and Ribery (source: The Daily Star – so don’t go out and get Ribery printed on your new away shirt just yet). This stuff can be so far fetched – I can’t see it happening.

A raft of ex-Arsenal players being linked to returns to England too – Vieira, Hleb and Reyes.

I’d love to see Vieira back – but I can’t see that happening either. He’s 33, and got about a million miles on the clock. It would be like buying a vintage Alfa Romeo: Deeply desirable new, but a bugger to run in later life.

Hleb too – I’ve been wondering for a while, ever since he didn’t even make the Champions League final squad, whether he might find his way back to England. Sure, London was too busy for him, but clearly Barcelona wasn’t (work that one out if you can), so maybe. Deeply infuriating though he was, he’d be a desirable signing. Experience of the league, fabulous close control. As long as prospective employers don’t expect him to score goals then he’d be worth a pop. Can I really see it happening? Not really – I suspect he’d rather stay in Spain or return to Germany.

As for Reyes, well one of the other Arsenal blogs picked up on his remarkable fall a while ago (apologies bt I don’t recall which one it was). He’s gone from a player who in 2004 was worth up to €17m to one now on the market for £4m. And he’s only 25.

Anyone wanting him would have a job on their hands even at that price. As well as turning round three years of worsening form, they’d have to entice him back to England. He hated it here. Hated the weather, the food, said there was nothing to do. I can’t see it happening.

We’ve had Adebayor linked to Milan again, though, a rumour that refuses to go away. But read what the Milan honcho says and he’s hardly wheelspinning his way to London to bag his man.

“If Dzeko is [available] we will start talking sums. Adebayor and [Sevilla striker] Luis Fabiano are the alternatives. For Adebayor there has been a telephone call, during which Wenger was friendly.”

More here.

Hardly the ringing endorsement Adebayor would like, eh? He might find it harder to find the club of his dreams than he thinks. He’s on fat wages for a start, and he doesn’t strike me as being the kind of player who’d be happy to take a wage cut. To be fair to him, I’ve yet to see a footballer who would.

It’s rare for a player to be so universally disliked, I must say. I am a little more cicumspect: I don’t like his attitude but if he can score 16 goals in a bad season, and 30 in a good one, then he should only be sold if a) the price is right and b) we have a replacement lined up.

Unless the Dzeko deal falls through though, I wonder whether it will happen at all.