A lot has happened this season that Arsenal fans have not been used to for a long time; finishing outside of the top four, finishing below Tottenham and seeing Wenger go on business trips so early on in the transfer window instead of his expected south of France holiday. We’ve all seen the pictures of the incredibly fit 67 year old sliding down a banana raft a week after the season has ended. Maybe not having to wait for CL qualification helps?
Arsenal fans have been bombarded with transfer news in the past week (although to be fair they go looking for it). Top of the news is Sead Kolašinac’s signing. The Bosnian left back, who was named in the Bundesliga team of the year, arrived on a free and signed a contract reportedly worth 140k/wk. In any currency, that’s absurd for a left back and even more so for Arsenal. Does Wenger mean business finally? This most likely means the departure of Kieran Gibbs; a loyal but sub-par performer. The deal was conducted very swiftly and with no hassle, so much so that some Arsenal fans couldn’t believe it happened even after seeing Kolašinac in an Arsenal shirt while being unveiled via the official club Facebook page.
Now we get to the juicy business. Wenger and Gazidis have been photographed in Nice. Together. Doing some shopping…so to speak. The rumour mill started with news that they are there to discuss a move for Nice’s 25 million pound-rated midfielder; Jean Seri. The 25-year-old helped Nice to a third place finish in Ligue 1 last season, with 15 contributions in goals and assists. Quickly, the rumors shifted to another target, Kylian Mbappe. Yeah…right. Or so most Arsenal fans thought until more stories surfaced that the club had officially tabled a bid as high as 110 million pounds for the young Frenchman.
Arsenal’s hopes of persuading Mbappe to move, while warding off the interests of Real Madrid, depends on on the long-standing relationship they have with the player and his family and their promise of rapid development under Wenger. One of these promises is to play as a center forward and have a guaranteed starting position, something Real Madrid cannot promise with the competition in their squad. In addition, Mbappe wants to give himself the best chance to feature for France in World Cup 2018, after hearing recent words of advice from national team coach Didier Deschamps, who emphasized the imporance of Mbappe making a move that guarantees he grows in a suitable environment of progress, learning and improvement.
Other less poignant rumors circulating the depth of Twitter are those surrounding Ryad Mahrez, Thomas Lemar, and Arda Turan. Arsenal fans should be ecstatic about either of the first two, but would love to steer clear of the third. More crucially, fans are following the contract situation of a few high profile current players. There is news that Ozil and Sanchez have been offered mammoth deals worth 280k/wk with Ozil looking to extend his stay in London. Sanchez on the other hand has not committed his future yet and is allegedly weighing up offers from the likes of Chelsea, City, and Bayern Munich. Arsene Wenger has been very adamant that regardless of their signature or lack of, these two will be at Arsenal next season. Another contract being tied up is that of Oxlade Chamberlain. Allegedly an agreement has been reached and the player is happy to stay at the club.
The decisiveness and rapidness with which Arsenal have tried to do their business this transfer window, whether internally or externally, suggests a shift in approach. Ivan Gazidis must have a large influence on this as he’s been very vocal about bringing glory to the Emirates and giving the fans “what they deserve”. Gazidis is determined to not leave the transfer business till the final minute, as Arsenal usually do, which is a positive sign of some promised change after Arsene signed a new two year deal.