24 May 2014

Transfer-talk: Lampard? Barry?

It appears that the silly season has developed a mind of its own and has decided to parody itself, swerving from "sensible" rumors (a concept that might reduce traditional zen koans to rubble) to offer some stories so outlandish as to leave us wondering just what planet we're living on. Then again, ten months ago, "Mesut Özil to Arsenal" might have qualified for the latter, so what do I know? Nothing. I think I'm still paraphrasing Greek philosophy. I may have switched to Operation Ivy (only click the link if you're in the mood for sloppy ska-punk from the late 1980s). And so we come to the baffling suggestions that we're moving for Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry.

I was tempted to offer a headline like "Arsenal in shock-move for Chelsea ace" or something like that until I realized that, no, I don't write for The Sun. More's the pity; I'll have to show up to my real job on Monday. No, still stinging a bit from my foray into yellow journalism, I've opted for a tamer approach for now.

Of course, Lampard has been released, as has Barry, and so they're each available, free for the taking. Well, not "free" in the sense that we'd still have to pay them, but there'd be no transfer-fee involved. Still, it's a bit hard to feel the pulse racing at the prospect of bringing in not one but two midfielders on the wrong side of 30. We've seen the aging Arteta, a veritable spring-chicken, struggle to keep up the pace against younger opponents, and Flamini isn't winning any sprints, either. Why would we want players like Lampard or Barry, deemed surplus to needs at each of their clubs? I'm not saying that they have nothing to offer. Perhaps the addition of a cagey veteran who knows how to sustain the stress of a title-chase is just what we need. After all, not one of our current squad members have ever seen us finish higher than third, and the stabilizing influence of a player who has run the gauntlet is just what we need. After all, having shed certain teammates, much like the boxer must shed roll after roll of sweaty, useless disgusting flab before he can win the title, we now have some room in the roster for a graybeard like Lampard who might be content to bestow his wisdom upon the wide-eyed and not yet world-weary.

Of course, such a move might reveal some insights into how to defeat Chelsea ("listen, guys, Mourinho likes to park the bus..."), but it hardly bespeaks a club or a manager ambitious enough to actually challenge for the Prem title. I'm sure that both Barry and Lampard have something to offer more clubs than not, but neither man is going to lift this club past their former ones. That, after all, is our goal. If we are serious about winning the Prem, we'd have to look at prying away Hazard or Azpilicueta, Agüero or Kompany, thereby stripping our opponents of a key player and bolstering our squad in the same stroke. Only a fool would let a key squad member leave to a direct...er...yeah. Ahem.

Long story short, then, I wouldn't oppose bringing Lampard or Barry. For what they'd cost and what they might add, they might be bargains. As I'm sure we'd all agree, though, this is not the kind of business that will shake up the top of the table. For that, we're going to have to dig deeper—and soon, if only for our own sanity. The longer it takes to make a major signing, the more the silly season's growing sentience will seize opportunities to taunt us. I don't know if I have what it takes to make it through a summer filled with rumors whose ridiculosity threatens to consume everything it touches.
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