23 July 2014

Thursday Transfer-Talk: Ospina? Khedira? Balotelli?

Okay, so "Thursday Transfer Talk" doesn't quite roll off the tongue as smoothly as it should, lacking the actual alliteration all of us aspire to, but there's something in it nonetheless. The signings of Alexis Sánchez and Mathieu Debuchy were announced at the club website on Thursdays (17 July and 10 July, for those counting). Heck, Mathieu Flamini's signing was also announced on a Thursday (29 August 2013, for those curious and lazy enough to enquire). There are a few outliers, to be sure—Sanogo was announced on a Monday, as was Özil, but they are shall serve for now as the exceptions that prove the rule. I'll be going to bed shortly, but, given the six-hour time-difference between here and London, anything could happen, ranging from the announced signings of Khedira, Ospina, and Balotelli, to the signing of no one at all.

It's anyone's guess as to what, if anything, may happen on this day. With a 20-man squad arriving in New York City to face the Red Bulls, it's entirely possible that there will be nothing at all to announce. Why distract from the prospect of Henry facing off against his former club, after all?

Then again, such a clash raises the expectations. Henry, perhaps more than any other player, embodies the successes and glories of Arsènian football: a Frenchmen, plucked from relative obscurity and converted from one position to another, to become a talisman and hero to Gooners on either side of the Pond.

At whatever level, we've seen a different, more-ambitious Arsenal of late. Whether this newer version has risen to a level that will satisfy is another question. All too often under Arsène, we've been asked to wait and wait again until a marquee-signing (if any) was announced. In this transfer-window, we've been treated to the signing of Alexis and Debuchy while being teased by the potential signings of Ospina, Khedira, Schneiderlin, Balotelli, and others. Heck, there's even been talk of getting Casillas on a free transer, but let's not go nuts.

We've been busy already, at least by our own standards, and there's been business enough to suggest that we're ambitious and looking to capitalize on many, many years of penny-pinching. With FFP at least threatening to consider forming a committee to study doing something, Chelsea and Man City have at last pretended to at least look at their books, if not balance them. Meanwhile, for the first time under Arsène, Arsenal are looking to break the bank, not just once for Alexis, but perhaps again for a true striker and a defensive midfielder. On top of that, we may still be in for a keeper and a center-back. Where does it end?

For what it's worth, the trip to New York City may trump all of this talk. A chance to see Henry play against Arsenal may be just too much. Why try to add hype to hype? Instead, it might be best to just enjoy the meaningless friendly for what it is: a mindless jape for a few Academy players to ply their wares against a squad of once-were's, never-will-be's, and one, glorious, always-will-be.

Then again, with an eye to spectacle, could we see Henry, that one, glorious, always-will-be, greeting some kind of heir-apparent? I would hardly deign to suggest that Balotelli or Benzema could rise to the challenge. It's enough, though, to make minds wander...