19 August 2013

£37.5m for Michu? Madness. £20m for Pogba? Yes, please.

I'm really beginning to wonder if Arsène has finally lost his marbles. We've gone from missing out on what would have been some great signings—Higuain and Gustavo in particular struck me as great targets, both for their abilities and their valuation—to some
outright silliness. Perhaps having missed out on each man seems to have caused something in our manager to snap. The pursuit of Suarez has been marred by ridiculous twists and turns that may have ended with Suarez's apology and return to training. Now, the latest rumors to make the rounds include us bidding £37.5m for Michu. Arsène may be confusing spending a lot of money with signing quality players.

Michu's had one season of Premier League football and did do pretty well for himself, I must admit. 18 goals in 35 appearances is nothing to sneer at. However, he completely disappeared over the last half of the season with four goals in his final 11 appearances. It seems to me that we need a striker who can do more to create his own shots, not someone with a skill-set as similar to Giroud's as Michu's seems to be. While he might be an upgrade over Giroud, he hardly strikes me as being worth £37.5m. That's Rooney-ish money. If we could sign him for something in the low-teens, great. That's enormously unlikely, though, as Swansea wouldn't part with him for anything but a huge fee. He'd be a nice addition, don't get me wrong, but spending more than 12 times what Swansea paid to get him just a year ago strikes me as some grade-A foolishness, especially from a manager vaunted for his grounding in economics.

However, consider Paul Pogba, a 20-year old Frenchman. All we'd need is for him to be playing for Auxerre or Lorient and he'd be a typical Arsène signing. He does play for Juventus, though, so Arsène can at least claim that we'd be getting a player from a big club (instead of sending a player to one, but I digress). At a reported bid of £20m, we might just be getting a player at something closer to his appropriate value—but the quoted figure might be too low to woo a player already playing in the Champions League and winning league titles. Even if Pogba doesn't address some of our more-immediate needs, he could be a fantastic addition. We'd have a midfield rotation to rival the best in the Prem, and without committing myself to having to defend the following, we might finally have a midfielder in the mold of Vieira. Speaking of the man, Vieira himself said of Pogba, "I believe that he is a better player than I was at his age." This is the kind of signing (along with a few more) that I think we could all get behind, the kind that starts to address the squad's thinness and fans' growing sense of despair.

Even a few weeks ago, there was nervousness around facing Fener, and that was when we were healthy, if not hale. Our feelings about this match and the rest of the season itself have taken a beating, and if Wednesday sees us lose again, I'm sorry to say it, but Arsène is simply going to have to sign players if only to restore some faith. The outpouring of venom at the end of the Aston Villa match represents more than just our reaction to that result or even to the bumbling ineptitude we've witnessed in the transfer market. It's about more than the trophy drought. There's a deep and deepening fear that no one in charge shares or understands our feelings. I'm sure that Arsène and Gazidis and others have invested a great deal of effort and emotion into this club, but, at the risk of sounding churlish, they're paid quite well to do so. The financial investment that we make is, after all, a rather large part of where their salaries come from. The emotional investment that we stake on this club goes deeper and lasts longer than any one man, and for as much as we might complain about ticket prices and transfer fees, it's those emotions, that belief and that faith, that are at risk here. It's starting to feel like we're in an abusive relationship, full of broken promises and passive-aggressive, manipulative head-games. We've been told over and over that new signings are coming and to just be patience. We've heard the lame excuses about who's available and only signing players who will add value, only to get sucker-punched by yet another disappointment.

Arsène might manage the club, and Gazidis might oversee it. Kroenke and Usmanov, among others, might own it, but, dammit, it's our club, our Arsenal. As grateful as I've been to Arsène for having brought us so many wonderful memories, I don't think it's ungrateful to ask "what have you done for us lately?" Little more than heartache and heartburn interrupted occasionally by moments of excitement. If they're not going to prove to us that they're serious about bolstering the squad, they should see themselves out. We're lucky enough to have finished fourth last season, but we're already at risk of squandering that good fortune. We should have gone right out and signed a number of players while the glow of victory was still fresh. Now, however, we're staggering along with a draw and two losses in the last two weeks and face very pressing questions about our ambitions and preparedness. If we don't get answers and soon, it may be time to think about making changes that go beyond who plays on the pitch. It may be time to change who decides whom to put on the pitch in the first place.

Arsène, it's up to you now. The money is there. Spend it.