FACT VS FICTION by Tejinder
Like all true Gooners I was a little underwhelmed by the lack of additions to our squad through this transfer window. The media did an excellent job in fanning the fires of expectation by throwing out names like Reus, Cavani, Benzema, Bender, Schneiderlin, Khedira, etc. It was a long list of names associated with 2 key positions – a holding/defensive midfielder and a striker.
There were many claims made by “journalists” (I use that term loosely here and equally could have used the term rumour-mongers) about fees, desire of the player to come to Arsenal, willingness of the clubs to sell, etc but without substantiation/proof or any supporting evidence, one would have to question the veracity of these stories. Nonetheless, the objective was achieved. Fans got excited, broad-sheets were filled, social media was abuzz and website traffic spiked. Even while no football was played – the whole world was still talking about the EPL. The brand and the product was still front and centre.
Certainly our own AFC made statements – statements of intent which we are all too familiar with, about acquiring the right quality player who would improve our team, about a “list of targets”, about a war chest of funds. There is no question AFC has a very broad and deep global scouting network – it’s been widely acknowledged – which is always on the look out for talent and not just through the transfer windows. It’s an ongoing process. If there’s a gem out there, you can be pretty sure we’ll find him. We have intent, capability and funds.
So now the transfer window has closed, what was indeed fact and what was fiction? I think we can only agree 2 relevant facts here:
1. AFC were looking to acquire a “world class” striker
2. AFC have the financial means
Fiction and conjecture…
1. Were AFC really looking for a holding/defensive midfield player?
2. Were PSG really going to sell Cavani for £50m? Did we actually make a bid?
3. Were Real Madrid really going to sell Benzema?
4. Were AFC really interested in signing Higuain and were Napoli actually willing to sell him?
AW has stated on a number of occasions that he is NOT in the market for a holding midfielder. In terms of defensive midfielders here’s what he has to say: “I think we have had that debate for a long time now that Arsenal does not buy defensive players,” said Wenger. So we can put that to bed. It’s fiction that AFC were in the market for a holding midfielder – rightly or wrongly.
So let’s focus on the “world class” striker AFC wanted. Which world class striker was available? Had a desire to join AFC? At a club willing to sell? I for one have no idea who really was on the market and who wasn’t….I couldn’t discern between fact and fiction here.
For a moment I thought Januzaj to Dortmund could mean that they were willing to sell Reus, I though perhaps De Gea to Real Madrid would mean they would be willing to sell Benzema to balance their books (a bit of a stretch). I didn’t think the Cavani option was real given Zlatan’s age and PSG not really needing the cash. Higuain was even less of a possibility with Napoli not even in the slightest way interested.
But here’s another fact we can hang our hat on – there are very, very few truly world class strikers out there and clubs who have them, are hanging on them. We don’t need any more evidence of this than Man Utd spending £36m on a 19 year old striker (Martial) who is essentially unproven but undoubtedly talented.
So I sit here wondering – did AFC get it wrong with a couple of targets? For example, Benteke or Jackson Martinez? Or were they not considered a big quality improvement over whom we have? Who was on the list Lord Harris mentioned and were they realistic…was there a list? There are many more questions. I guess we’ll never really know or we might some fine day in the distant future.
In terms of Wenger’s trial by media (which is what this is) well that’s entirely your right. In this world of disinformation and misinformation – I will reserve judgement until I have facts. The transfer window is slammed shut for now and we have a team of players we call our Gunners I will be supporting to the hilt…they are the men in the arena… “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood” (Theodore Roosevelt: Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910)