02 June 2013

How Arsenal prises Lewandowski from Dortmund

We've been connected to quite a few players this year, and it suggests something about our quality and reputation. In years past, we've had to wring our hands in despair at the prospect of losing players. This year, however, we look set to hold on to everyone we care to keep, and this frees us up to focus on pursuing what we need by way of upgrades instead of replacements.  Most of the chatter has focused on Stevan Jovetic, on whom I'm just not sold. I'd prefer Benteke as certainly better, not just financially but in terms of performance. However, if we're looking for a top-flight center-forward, one could be a game- and season-changing addition, and if we're looking to make spend a few pounds, dollars, or euros to signal our intent, why not make a bold move for Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski? Sure, he's been linked to Bayern Munich, and such a move has its obvious attractions, but he'd be pilloried up and down (something I've already done) for switching to Dortmund's Bundesliga rivals and Champions League bogeymen. If he's looking to move, why not offer him the somewhat safer havens of playing for Arsenal? I wouldn't mind printing out that post excoriating him and eating it (literally--I'll post a video of myself doing it). He could signal his ambition without pulling a van Persie. In doing so, he could rightly claim to be helping to elevate a proud and ambitious club instead of latching on, remora-like, to the biggest shark in the sea.

But how? Assuming Dortmund is willing to part with him, can we outbid Bayern? Maybe. I don't know their financial situation very well, but I have to imagine that, having committed to hiring Guardiola, apparently having signed Mario Götze, and also continuing to pay Robben and Ribéry, Bayern has a little less flexibility than we have in dealing with Lewandowski. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that we do have trouble offering something more attractive. How do we (a) convince Dortmund to parley with us, and (b) entice Lewandowksi to listen?

Let's deal with (a) first. Let's say Bayern can match or exceed our offer. Why not throw in Podolski? As much as I have enjoyed him as a person and player, and as well as he's partnered with Giroud, he seems least vital to our needs. This is an odd statement to make about someone who was 3rd in goals and assists despite slogging through injury for long stretches. However, with Cazorla, Wilshere, and Walcott looking to hold down the attacking midfield roles, Poldi would be the odd man out more often than not. If we are bringing in Clément Grenier, Poldi might become that much more dispensable. A return to the Bundesliga might be attractive to him, not to mention giving Dortmund a replacement for Lewandowski (even if it's not exactly a one-for-one in quality...). Still not enough? Where's Denilson? If Götze is set to depart, Dortmund will need midfield options as well. The perpetually on-loan Brazilian might offer a suitable replacement until Dortmund decides on a more-incisive player, and combining him with Poldi might make our offer to Dortmund all the more attractive, enough to turn them from Bayern, whom they have no interest in strengthening at their own expense. Deal with us, and they stifle Bayern, emerge with money to spend and as many as two other players to deploy. Still not enough? Fine. Throw Bendtner in (unless that queers the deal rather than strengthening it.

Once we've captured Dortmund's attention, we say to Lewandowski, "look. You play for Bayern, you're all but sure to win silverware. Where's the glory in that? It's a limo-ride, luxurious and relaxing and fun and all, but do you want be known as a carpet-bagger who goes where the going's good, or do you want to be known as team-leader? You do know you'll be carrying water for Robben and Ribery all season, waiting to nibble on their scraps and left-overs. They have trouble enough sharing the ball with each other. How do you think they'll treat you, Johnny-come-lately? Come to Arsenal, and you're our #1 center-forward (sorry, Ollie) and a lynch-pin in delivering this team to the top of the Prem and the Champions League. You wouldn't be a hood-ornament as you would at Bayern; you'd be a driver. Instead of being hated by your former fans, you'd be merely mocked and then forgotten. At Arsenal, you'd slot in seamlessly and quickly bed-in to quick and sincere attention from fans. Think it over. You could have it all at Arsenal, and you'd know that you've rightly earned each trophy we win together."

I'm not saying that anything I've said could come together. For all we know, Lewandowski has already signed with Bayern, and I'm just spittin' in the wind. However, necessity is the mother of invention, and we need a strong center-forward. We could do worse than signing Lewandowski, but it would be awfully hard to do better.