We once joked that only when Arsenal finished outside the top 4 would our owners put their hands into their pockets.
Luckily for them, falling out of the Champions League has coincided with a TV contract worth billions. That’s why, even with us 10th, the criteria for our recruitment team this January remains finding value. And worse our fan base seems acceptance of this lack of ambition.
We clearly need to make our squad stronger yet only seem to be interested in loans (unless we find someone like Mari for a cut price). This is why a top name would not have been interested in replacing Emery.
Imagine Raul Sanllehi with a straight face trying to suggest we can close a 10-point gap in Chelsea with loan signings. Normally, with respect, there would be a reason why a club is willing to lend you a player. Name the last player we borrowed in January who made an impact?
Even worse, selling parties are even being flexible, willing to do business as long as there’s a guarantee to buy. This is the equivalent of calling our bluff. We act like we are interested, yet won’t commit to anything, yet still have the nerve to demand an option to buy and first refusal.
Many will pat our board on the back 12 months ago for not giving in to Barcelona’s demands over Suarez. If the Catalans got their way, we would have been forced to hand over 25 million for a talent who was mostly injured. Yet what chance did the winger ever really have of earning the move? He had 5 months to adapt to a new culture, learn a new language, all the while knowing deep down Emery didn’t rate him enough to commit to a permanent transfer. Did we ever have any intention of keeping him long term or was it about bringing in a body without paying anything?
Then we get to the Europa League Final and bemoan a lack of attacking options on our bench. The same is happening now with Ceballos. He has a big reputation in Spain but has clearly realised there is no desire to make him a full-time gunner. He was convenient because Real Madrid needed him off the wage bill, but once we insisted on an option not a guarantee to buy, we were telling him deep down what we really thought of him.
We now could be doing the same with Lemar, someone we were willing to pay 90 million for three years ago. Now Atletico Madrid are willing to make it happen and the only thing stopping us is wanting an option to buy. Again, you either rate the player or not. Would he make us better? Have any of our attacking midfielders done any better? Again, how much do you rate a player if you not willing to agree what is a fair deal?
If you wanted a car but didn’t have the money wouldn’t you be delighted if the seller let you have it now, pay later. If that’s an issue, maybe deep down you don’t want it as much as you think?
If we miss out on targets due to not agreeing on option to buy or guaranteed to buy, then I don’t know how anyone can still defend Silent Stan..