21 June 2015

Čech's in the mail, a "Vidal" move, and other Arsenal news...

The silly season continues to do what it always does, tempting and teasing us with half-truths and full-blown lies on equal offer. With some 70 days left before the window closes, there's a lot of hot air swirling around. I won't torture the weather-metaphor any further than that. Suffice it to say that there's a whole lot of conversation and not much action. Whether it's the ongoing saga of Petr Čech's "imminent" arrival or the apparent closure of Kondogbia's deal with Inter, let's have a quick look at where things stand with some of our most-coveted targets, shall we?

Apologies to Mssr. Kondogbia...
Petr Čech
The latest news involves an apparent £4m payment to the man, which some have interpreted as a kind of bribe for him to go somewhere other than Arsenal. More likely, it's a loyalty bonus that he'll earn if he's sold before his contract ends (his contract expires 30 June 2016). If Čech has not handed in a transfer request, he would be due this money for the simple fact that Chelsea are actively trying to sell him, whether to Arsenal, PSG, or the Chicago Fire. In other words, it can hardly be a bribe if Chelsea are already obligated to pay out regardless of his destination. The real story would be if Chelsea refused a contractual obligation because he was coming to Arsenal. Absent that headline, we'll have to settle for "inching closer" to completion.

Geoffrey Kondogbia
In more-certain but not-actually-certain news, it looks as if Kondogbia is on the verge of completing a £29m-move to Inter. Whether that's an inflated price or something that reflects his actual value is an open question. Whether we actually were after him is another question still. It's an odd move for a young player, trading a guaranteed Champions League spot with Monaco (third place in Ligue 1) for life on the fringe with Inter (eighth in Serie A). Perhaps the move signifies deeper concerns about his ability to reach his potential. In some small part, his defensive capabilities might have been inflated a bit by Monaco's set-up, which took bus-parking to whole new levels. In any case, it looks like he's off the market.

Arturo Vidal
Despite his ability to crash expensive cars and then threaten local authorities with the collapse of a country if he's subsequently arrested, Vidal remains on the radar of a number of clubs. If anything, Kondogbia deal might help various clubs overlook Vidal's indiscretions, as there is a shortage of quality players at the position. For what it's worth, Arsenal has been willing to turn a bit of a blind eye to its current squad members' unfortunate decisions, whether it be smoking in the locker room (Szczęsny), smoking, swearing, and spitting in public (Wilshere), or allegations of rape (van Persie). I'm not a fan of giving players a free pass, but in this case there does seem to be enough ambiguity to withhold judgement for now.

Morgan Schneiderlin
This one might be the pièce de résistance. He's French, but he qualifies as homegrown, having played for Southampton since he was 18 (current rules state that the player has to be registered with the FA three years before his 21st birthday). Southampton have shown themselves to be perfectly willing to sell other homegrown players, taking full-advantage of the artificial premium the homegrown-player rule places on those players in order to reinvest and reload. Schneiderlin might then represent their most-valuable asset for the upcoming season. By contrast with Vidal, Schneiderlin, who might be available for a similar transfer-fee, would be Prem-tested and scandal-free...'cept for that one intemperate tweet last summer...

That just about does it for now. In other words, we're not heavily linked with any other players of note. For the pessimists and WOBs, this is an indictment of Arsène's abject failure to understand the transfer-window. For the optimists and AKBs, this is an indication of Arsène's sublime ability to leverage the transfer-window. Time will tell...