Why the Denis Suárez deal makes sense and why Barcelona can afford to lose him

Why the Denis Suárez deal makes sense and why Barcelona can afford to lose him

As Denis Suárez is now a Gunner for the rest of the season, it ends all the speculations that Arsenal won’t sign anyone in the January window. Even though it’s just a loan deal, it pleases both parties. Here’s why.

From Arsenal’s point of view

  1. Denis is happy to work with Emery. As Denis worked with Emery in Sevilla before, Arsenal now have two Europa League winners in their team, which will help to boost the confidence of the team in winning the UEL.
  2. Denis is the kind of player they want and need. What Arsenal need is not only someone who can play in both upfront and in midfield (like Özil) but also, a playmaker. Denis is the kind of player who can do all these stuff.
  3. If Denis doesn’t play well, he doesn’t have to be here. Arsenal can opt to activate the release clause of 20 million Euros to get him in the summer. But it’s not obligatory, so I’ll see it just a mere option on the contract.

From Barcelona’s point of view

  1. They get money from the deal, should Arsenal exercise their option to buy. Even if Barcelona don’t get the 20 million in July, Denis’ contract extension to 2021 will preserve his current market value.
  2. They would rather develop de Jong than on Denis. de Jong’s arrival will further reduce Denis’ playing time since it’ll be a total waste of money not to play the Dutchman, at least from Valverde’s perspective.
  3. Denis isn’t in Valverde’s plans, so it makes sense to offload him. Barcelona are crowded with talented midfielders like Arthur Melo, Carles Aleñá and Sergi Roberto. Even Aleñá got more chances than him.

From the player’s own point of view

Let’s be honest, if you were Denis, would you rather be a benchwarmer at Camp Nou or the main man somewhere else? For Suárez himself, he decided to opt for a return to England (he used to play for Manchester City before).

The final verdict 

Provided that Denis doesn’t get a lot of chances under Valverde and the confirmed transfer of Frenkie de Jong, I believe that there’s a high chance that the player will sign a permanent deal with the north London club.
Unless there is something bad happen to Arsenal (or Emery), it would be the best for Denis to be a Gunner in the next season. But of course, like Alcácer’s case, it all depends on what Denis will do in the future.
It can’t be certain for now.

My thoughts on Emiliano Sala

My thoughts on Emiliano Sala

In England, right now, it’s transfer deadline day. That’s the same across Europe, in fact. At any other deadline day, I’m sure that’s where the football world’s attention would be almost exclusively directed. Who’s going where? What deals are going to shock us? How long can Spurs go without signing anyone?

But I’ll be honest, I almost completely forgot about the transfer window’s impending closure, and I think a lot of football fans have done the same. That’s not because this year’s January has been any more dull – ok, maybe it has – but because of the disappearance of Emiliano Sala, Cardiff City’s record signing whose plane went missing on the way from Nantes over to south Wales. It was January 21st when the plane left France and the day after that it was confirmed Sala was on board the aircraft. It’s now the 31st of January, ten days after Sala was due to arrive at his new club. In that week-and-a-half, I believe we’ve seen the best of the footballing community.

Image result for emiliano sala

After days of searching, efforts were called off on the 24th of January because Channel Islands Air Search just didn’t think it was possible to find Sala or pilot Dave Ibbotson. In the space of two days – that’s 48 hours – after the search was called off, donors had raised £260,000. That’s close to $500k in NZD. And that was in two days.

Just look at the way Nantes fans acted yesterday in their match against Saint-Etienne. The match was stopped in the ninth minute to allow the fans to have a tribute, with tifos and chanting all around. And it’s not like the Nantes fans stopped there – they kept chanting Sala’s name for goodness knows how long. There were even Cardiff City fans at the game that had flown over from Wales just for that.

Image result for nantes sala

Football – like any other sport, really – can be pretty divisive at times. Our tribalistic instincts really do come to the forefront when we’re in support mode. I could look at this in a more negative sense and argue that it’s sad that we need an event like this to bring people together. But instead, I think it says a lot about it that we come together in the first place. There are other walks of life where it seems anything that harms opposition is a benefit for yourself. Politics, especially, is an example of an environment where this seems to ring true.

Football fans around the world have put our differences aside for this. It’s the same way Dortmund fans put their allegiances aside and welcomed Monaco fans into their homes after the BVB bus bombing. It’s the same way the Premier League collectively mourned Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after his unfortunate death in a helicopter accident. And there are other, perhaps more humorous examples that could be given.

When you’re 1-0 down in a football match at halftime, rolling over and not bothering to contest the second half is probably the worst possible thing you could do. Anyone who knows anything about football knows that you’re best off fighting onwards together, as a unit, as a team. You won’t get anywhere if the centre-backs disagree on who should take throw-ins and the wingers won’t cross the ball in cause they don’t think the forwards are any good. You do best together, and it seems with the events of the past two weeks, the football world’s realised that, and done it.

Image credit: http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/34A8/production/_105408431_hi052008761.jpg

and  http://sf2.sport365.fr/wp-content/uploads/se/2017/08/sala-750×410.jpg

Yay or Ney? Barcelona should strive to become more than just MSN

Yay or Ney? Barcelona should strive to become more than just MSN

As a Barcelona fan who heard the recent rumours about Neymar’s possible return to La Liga, let me make this very clear: I don’t want Neymar to be back. It’s not about his attitude but a product of the realistic situation.

I’ll never deny that MSN, or the Messi-Suárez-Neymar trio amassed goals before the deal of the Brazilian to PSG materialised. I also recognise Neymar is the third-best player in the world, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.

Here’s the problem, though. A big one. If Barcelona decides to agree on a deal for Neymar, then it’s very likely that two young players will be affected. Ousmane Dembélé and Malcom Oliveria.

Without a doubt, Dembélé is a player with the pace to tear up the opposition defence. He also gives assists to his fellow teammates. Sadly, he doesn’t defend but the best thing ever?

He’s just 21, a month and eleven days younger than me.

However, there are transfer talks concerning the French player, stating that he has a problem with his attitude and isn’t happy under Ernesto Valverde.

While Arsenal can be one of the future destinations in his journey, I believe that he should stay. The reason? Neymar needs a backup and I see Dembélé as Barcelona’s “plan B”.

I get it, Neymar is a quality player who deserves to be in the starting lineup, but there’s no guarantee that he doesn’t get injured. Also, Valverde may want to rotate the squad for the Copa del Rey and give the youngsters playing time.

In this case, I’ll be more than happy if Dembélé stays.

Of course, no one wants to become a benchwarmer at Camp Nou if they have the quality to contribute as a regular. Yet, it’ll be foolish for Barcelona to sell Dembélé in the middle of Neymar’s deal.

The Barcelona board should remember themselves that “failing to plan is planning to fail”, as Benjamin Franklin said. Thus, provided that Neymar is back and Dembélé stays, the impact would be inflicted on the poor newbie.

And yes, I’m talking about Malcom Oliveria.

Malcom joined Barcelona this summer after a controversial move from Bordeaux, with the contract being snatched from Roma’s hands (something I, as a football fan, despise).

The miserable fact is that he’s not getting a lot of playing time. This is why it is also rumoured that he’s looking for a new club in the Janurary transfer window, having fed up with Valverde.

His performance was okay and scored the vital goal against Inter Milan in the Champions League, but it is yet to be seen if he can make an impact to the Barcelona first team.

In my opinion, loaning the Brazilian out would be the better option than selling – as you’ll never know what will happen to those “benchwarmers” when they’re playing for a new club.

Just look at Alcácer. If he can do it, why can’t Malcom do the same?

Yet, this is where it gets complicated. Considering Neymar, Dembélé and Malcom as a trio of attack. It’ll be best if they can play together, but if only two of them can stay, who should pack his luggage and find a new club?

Neymar’s possible return to Barcelona complicates matters to the team as it will relegate either Dembélé and Malcom to the bench. The worse case? Pushing one of them out of the club, which may result in a bad decision.

With the ample funds inside their bank account, I believe that Barça should sort out their priorities.

Signing a nice defender, whether from the other teams or have him promoted from La Masia, is always the better thing to do than getting Neymar back.

Neymar is an excellent player but the good old days will never be back. Deal with it, Culés. We’ll need to move on from the past. Just leave MSN behind in the history books at Camp Nou. We’re “more than a club”, aren’t we?

Who should stay and who should go – A look at United’s contract situations

Who should stay and who should go – A look at United’s contract situations

Manchester United have been in constant turmoil this season, on the pitch, with poor performances, and off the pitch, with the hate against the Glazers, United’s owners being ramped up a notch this season. But one potentially problematic area is the contract situation for multiple players – so here’s a case by case look at that.

David de Gea 

United’s star keeper has been bearing the burden of a shaky defense for so long and has also rendered a lot of other problems with the side obsolete. To me, there is no doubt that DDG is by far the best goalkeeper in the world. However, since winning the title in 2012-13, there really haven’t been any proper title challenges to speak of, and DDG has reportedly become increasingly frustrated at the lack of trophies United have been able to gather. It’s a fair enough complain fora player of his caliber, but, United must, must, re-sign him, no matter the cost. God help us if we don’t. Should talks fail, however, United can trigger a 12-month extension in his contract, so we’ll at least be able to cash in on him.TLDR: Keep. 

Matteto Darmian 

Since arriving in 2015-16, the Italian has seen the number of minutes he has played each season steadily drop, and he has only played a single match this season so far, the 2-1 win over Leicester. He isn’t good enough, and is the fourth choice right back behind Young, Valencia, and Dalot, so get rid, no matter whether it’s by simply letting his contract run out, or triggering the extension and selling in the winter or summer. TLDR: Get rid. 

Ashley Young 

Previously a winger that wasn’t good enough, Young has re-invented himself over the past few years, becoming a very useful utility player. The man can play at either left-back or right back, and last season made 38 appearances in the United shirt, the most he ever has which is amazing considering he is now 33 and has been at the club since 2009. He’s a useful player to have around and deserves a contract renewal. Also worth noting that he does not have an option to extend his contract for a further year. TLDR: Keep

Antonio Valencia 

Much like Young, Valencia is a former winger turned fullback, and has even become captain, but, unlike Young, he has struggled in recent weeks, can only play on one side, and is in hot water with Mourinho after liking a post on Instagram calling for him to face the sack. As much as this one might hurt, I think it’s time to lose Valencia. United have the option to trigger a one year exstension should they want to. TLDR: Get rid 

Phil Jones 

The inconsistent defender, who has been made famous thanks to his beautiful faces, has really been on the downward spiral lately. Since his penalty miss against Derby County he has not featured in the team, and his struggles, both defensively and on the injury front, mean that he’s not worth keeping. United do have the option to trigger a one-year extension to his contract should they want to cash in. TLDR: Get Rid

Chris Smalling 

Like Jones, Smalling has his inconsistencies and errors, however, he has become the center back the club has got in its shaky defense, making the most appearances out of any central defender so far. While he really shouldn’t be a first team player for the club, he’s good enough to keep around. United have an option to trigger a one-year extension to his contract, should they want to. TLDR: Keep 

Ander Herrera 

United’s player of the year for 2016-17, since Nemanja Matic’s arrival at the club Herrera has struggled for game time. Add to that the fact Pogba, Fred, and McTominay are all younger and probably better (save maybe McTominay for the better part), and I think it might just be time to let Herrera go. It’s a hard choice to make, however, and Mourinho has stated his intention to keep him, so, you never know. United do not have an option to extend his contract by a year. TLDR: Maybe get rid

Andreas Pereira

Labeled the next big thing for so long, Pereria finally got his chance to impress when he was handed starts for United’s first two matches of the season. H0wever, in the second game against Brighton, he was hauled off at halftime and has been barely seen since. If he isn’t going to play, then there’s no use keeping him, but there’s plenty of potential left in him so make sure he gets sold and add a buy-back clause. United have the option to keep him around for another year if they so chose. TLDR: Get rid, but add a buy-back clause

Juan Mata 

Mata is an interesting case. He’s quite possibly my favorite ever footballer, one of the nicest guys around, and a darn good player. The problem is, he has never quite been a first-team player under Mourinho, and a player of his caliber deserves to be playing regular first-team football. Still, he’s worth keeping around. United don’t have the option to trigger an extension. TLDR: Keep

Anthony Martial 

Despite his rocky relationship with Mourinho over the years, along with DDG, Martial has probably saved his job, as the French man leads the clubs scoring charts with 7 goals so far. At just 23 he is a star of the future and utterly deserves a new contract. In fact, re-signing him should be Ed Woodward’s top priority. United have the option to extend his contract by twelve months. TLDR: Keep




Paco Alcácer – a clear solution and the dilemma in disguise

Paco Alcácer – a clear solution and the dilemma in disguise

Barcelona supporters may have trouble in believing this: Paco Alcácer, the fourth forward in their squad, can’t stop scoring after leaving Camp Nou on loan to Borussia Dortmund, a German Bundesliga giant.

Under Lucien Favre’s guidance, the Spaniard started to find his sense of scoring. And currently, with 10 goals from 10 shots on target, no one would have expected him to be in such a good form.

The 25-year-old used to be a player who lived under the shadows of the players, in the likes of the mighty Leo Messi, Luis Suárez, Neymar and later, Ousmane Dembélé.

But at Dortmund, he’s the star himself. Against Frankfurt, he scored. Against Leverkusen, he wrapped up the comeback all by himself. Against Augsburg, he scored a hat-trick to get all 3 points for his club.

Alcácer’s current situation is a blessing to the Dortmund squad. At the same time, Barcelona would be having a headache for the rest of the season in attracting him to be back to the Catalonian capital.

With an urge for Dortmund to activate the release clause of the loan contract, this is where it gets complicated for both clubs to handle.

To be honest, Alcácer is the solution to one of the problems of the Dortmund squad.

Dortmund may have quality players like Marco Reus, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Maximilian Philipp and Marius Wolf, but the lack of an in-form, traditional No. 9 player is what the BVB are yearning for.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did a great job when he donned the Borussen jersey. However, he decided to leave for Arsenal with the German club getting a whopping €63.75M fund in the process.

Michy Batshuayi joined the party on loan from Chelsea as a side-effect of Aubameyang’s transfer.

He did well in the Bundesliga by scoring goals in the last minute to save Peter Stöger’s job, only to have his career there marred by a sudden injury against old rivals Schalke 04 in the Revierderby.

Now, with Alcácer who’s on fire, it is almost certain to say that the whole BVB attack is complete. It’ll be the best if the Spaniard keeps up his form and call Westfalenstadion his “home” after the season.

For Barcelona, the primary objective for them is to take place of, if not replace, the currently misfiring Suárez, who has yet to score a goal after the away win against Real Sociedad.

Munir El Haddadi is, at present, Valverde’s first choice backup to the Uruguayan. Despite assisting the team in salvaging a point from Bilbao at home, the striker spends most of his time on the bench.

The 23-year-old may be the player for the future of Barcelona as Suárez is ageing. However, despite the loan experiences with Valencia and Alavés, he’s still not experienced enough to be a “super sub”.

With 10 goals in 10 appearances for club and country in the ongoing season, the Spanish club may regret in letting Alcácer go, especially if the player decides to make the move permanent.

At the same time, though, they understand that Dembélé was a transfer for the future. Alcácer may be a good player but for Barcelona, they may want to develop the young, French striker more.

So for Bartomeu and his men, here’s the question, “if you can keep only one player, would you rather keep Dembélé or Alcácer?” And the answer is, frankly, obvious.

In short, this deal of Paco Alcácer is complicated, provided that both clubs have contrasting interest in the deal. Dortmund would want to secure the player’s ownership rights while Barcelona are seeking for a “super sub” in hot form.

Dortmund would be more than happy to pay the cash if Alcácer continues to score, yet Barcelona won’t afford to lose him. Anyway, it may be too early to say, but only time will tell if the agreement is worth the transfer fee stated or not.

Leno is great but the Gunners are no one-man army

Leno is great but the Gunners are no one-man army

As an Arsenal fan myself, I was thrilled when I heard that my club decided to sign Bernd Leno from Leverkusen to compete with Čech and Emi Martínez. Despite the deal, I still believe that Arsenal still has yet to fix the long-term issue from the Wenger era.

Here’s a review of what happened in the first two months of Emery’s journey with the club.

Petr Čech was the starter GK of the first PL games at the beginning of the Unai Emery era, who conceded in every match he played (including the defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea) until being injured against Everton.

He was then replaced by Leno in half-time, who became the undisputed No. 1 in the lineup, keeping two clean sheets against Watford and Qarabağ. Against Fulham, his fellow countryman André Schürrle scored but Arsenal fought back and sealed the win.

Now, you may argue that Leno has a better record than Čech. I did see the “Jens Lehmann” inside him, but the reality is, the German is no Superman. It all lies on the responsibility of the team and depending on Leno himself can’t always save the day.

Leno would have stopped Brentford from scoring if he did better in his positioning for the free-kick. For Schürrle’s goal, the Arsenal defence failed to stop the counter-attack and created a huge space for shooting, leaving the full-backs and Leno helpless.

Yes, Leno is a good goalkeeper – still, let’s be honest, even with him, the Arsenal defence is still inconsistent.

The best thing about the current Arsenal squad is that they have yet to surrender a penalty, which is a sign of improvement. They did concede fouls, yet this can be a side-effect of the signature “high pressurising” policy employed by Emery.

Keeping a clean sheet is not just about luck. The defence should do their utmost to prevent the opposition to find the space to shoot. At the same time, the goalkeeper must do everything in his power to stop the ball from hitting the net.

The problem is that Arsenal still lacks a leader in defence, like what Tony Adams did in the past. It is of no secret that Mustafi is unsteady. Holding needs more experience in the XI. Sokratis is superb but his sole presence is no solution to the issue.

Recalling Reiss Nelson is the cheapest option to bolster the frontline. Thus, a young, commanding defender should be a priority in the ideal transfer plan of the club. In other words, Arsenal should do what Liverpool did with van Dijk last season.

Of course, the defence of a football team should never be a one-man show. Leno did well in his past few games but is still learning the bits and pieces of the PL. This is why the addition of a proven guardian will make the job easier for Emery to handle.

To be great again, Arsenal must put one step forward and progress further in their transfer business. While purchasing defenders may not be as rewarding as forwards who contribute by scoring goals, this is, clearly, the right thing to do.

The Bosman ruling and how it changed football

The Bosman ruling and how it changed football
 Jean-Marc Bosman

15 December 1995.

When you think of places where history might be made in the world of football, you’d think of the games, the players. World cup finals. Record-breaking transfers. Not the European Court of Justice.

On that day, the fifteenth of December, there was finally a verdict for the Bosman ruling.

Five years previously, the relatively unknown Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman’s contract at Belgian club RFC Liege ended, and Bosman wanted to move to French club Dunkerque. However, despite the fact that his contract had run out with Liege, Liege was under no obligation to release him as they had not recevied what they deemed to be an acceptable transfer fee from Dunkerque. After some negotiating, Liege’s demands were too high for Dunkerque, and they lost interest in Bosman.

So, despite his contract having run out with Liege, Bosman was stuck in Liege.

Bosman saw this as violating the EU’s rules around free movement for workers, and ended up taking Liege, the Belgian FA, and UEFA, the governing body for football in Europe, all to court. To make a long story short, Bosman won his case, and football was fundamentally changed.

The actual ruling here is that once a player’s contract with the club is over, He/She is free to leave the club even if there has not been a transfer fee paid for the player

The implications of the ruling, however, are a lot more far-reaching.

1. The rich clubs win the most 

If you’re a small club with a real gem of a player on your hands, one that could be playing at a higher level, with just one year left on his/her contract, then teams, richer and more successful teams, are going to be circling to try and get this player. And because most players want to play at a higher level, most players in this situation will want to leave to move to this higher level. And given this player has just one year left on their contract, then as a small club, you face a dilemma: You can either sell this player, and lose him for good, or you can keep him for one last year, and lose him/her without getting any money for him/her. For this reason, the rich clubs will get the best players, and therefore win the most trophies.

2. Player wages have skyrocketed. 

As transfer fees are no longer needed for a player to leave their club, the main way that clubs attract players is through money. This has resulted in the wages of players going completely bonkers. For instance, Sol Cambell signed for Arsenal in 2001, where he recevied wages of 100 000 dollars a week. But just ten years earlier in 1991, no footballer in the UK was earning 10 000 dollars a week. This ties in nicely with my previous point about how the rich clubs dominate their domestic leagues, as they can afford to pay their players in the surplus of six-digit sums a week.

3. Player agents now play a large role in transfers

Given that wages for footballers have skyrocketed, becoming an agent for players, or a middleman to help facilitate the transfers and renewals of contracts, has become an increasingly lucrative business. Now, in contract negotiations, player agents can demand ludicrous fees for themselves while they seek the best deal for their clients.

In the end, it’s difficult to know what to think of the Bosman ruling. It has morphed football into a world where the wealthiest win, and where transfer fees and wage bills keep rising, but, on the other hand, it now keeps players from being forced to stay at a club where they are not happy forever. The Bosman ruling has had both positive and negative impacts, and one can only guess about how history will judge it.

This post was also posted on the TEA news network, a crowd-sourced news platform that is an official partner of FootyFans. I highly recommend checking TEA out, it’s a great site. 

Image credit: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3355167/20-years-ago-Jean-Marc-Bosman-took-football-won-Sportsmail-tracks-man-changed-game-ever.html

Rumour Rater: Gotze, Navas and more

Rumour Rater: Gotze, Navas and more

Welcome to the first edition of the Rumour Rater, a weekly post in which I round up the latest transfer news from around Europe and offer my opinion.

That’s pretty much all I have for an introduction, so let’s get into it!

Premier League

According to the Mirror, the two Manchester clubs, United and City, are about to battle over Ajax’s young defensive midfielder Frenkie de Jong, in a deal that could be worth 50 million pounds.

Image result for frenkie de jong

Rating: 6.5/10. A move would make sense for either club, as Fernandinho for City and Nemanja Matic for United are both on the wrong side of 30. 50 million, however, seems a large fee to pay for a player that is yet to test himself outside of the Netherlands.

Mario Gotze has been advised by former teammate Kevin Grosskreutz to link up with former boss Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

Rating: 6/10. The scorer of the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final has struggled recently at Borussia Dortmund, and going to Klopp, the manager who gave Gotze’s career its kickstart, would make sense. However, with one of the world’s best attacking trios in Mane, Salah, and Firmino, it’s hard to see where Gotze would fit in a Liverpool side.

Yet another club has joined the race to sign PSG’s Adrien Rabiot, and it’s Manchester City, who are trying t0 bring him back to the club he spent time at as a teenager.

Image result for Adrien Rabiot

Rating: 7/10: Should City get Rabiot, most likely they won’t go after de Jong as they play in primarily the same position. However, given that he has experience with Europe’s elite, he might be a better replacement for Fernandinho than de Jong.


Leroy Sane has been linked with a switch to Juventus within the next couple of years.

Image result for Leroy Sane

Rating: 7/10, but only in the next few years. Apparently, the Turin based side wants to sign a “young Ronaldo.” That’s despite them having only signed Ronaldo himself this season. Given that he’s 33, though still arguably the best in the world, it’s understandable to be looking for the future. However, Ronaldo isn’t in a sharp decline just yet and Juve will probably need to wait a while to splash the cash on Sane thanks to FPP.

That’s not all we have about Juventus, however, as they have been linked with Real Madrid shot-stopper Keylor Navas. 

Image result for Keylor Navas

Rating: 7/10 Navas initially feels a good fit for Juventus, as with Gianluigi Buffon’s departure they may need a new world-class man between the sticks, and with the arrival of Thibaut Courtois in Madrid, Navas’ place as the undisputed first-choice goalie for Real is under threat. However, buying Navas may be hard to justify for Juve, as Wojciech Szczesny taking over Buffon’s place as Juve’s main goalie, not to mention their signing of Mattia Perin. Still, neither of those two are quite on the same level as Navas, so this may happen.

Barcelona appear to be in pole position to sign Mexican PSV winger Hivring Lozano, after Lozano himself said it would be a “dream to play for Barcelona”

Image result for Hirving Lozano

Rating: 5/10. Lozano would be a very solid addition to just about any side in the world right now, but a player of his quality needs regular first team football and I can’t see him getting it at Barcelona. With Coutinho, Malcom, Messi, Munir, Suarez, and Dembele all battling it out for a place in Barcelona’s front line, I can’t see Lozano really changing that.

Image credit:

The Problem with Frenkie de Jong….






Granit Xhaka – a curse or a blessing for Arsenal?

Granit Xhaka – a curse or a blessing for Arsenal?

As an Arsenal fan who started supporting the club from 2016, the first transfer which caught my attention was none other than Granit Xhaka, who joined the Gunners from Möchengladbach.

To date, there have been mixed opinions of the Swiss midfielder. And when people ask me “what do you think of Xhaka?”, it always gives me a headache as I’m in a “love-hate” relationship with it.

The good thing is that Xhaka is good at long-range shots, which is a trick capable of surprising the opponents. He did it against Hull, Nottingham Forest, Manchester United, Liverpool and AC Milan. It seems that he can take free-kicks too after he proved his worth in the Newcastle game, I think.

Xhaka is also an adaptative player who has solidified his place in the starting XI, no matter if he’s under Wenger or Emery. Moreover, proved at Gladbach, he’s a leader in the dressing room and is named as one of the captains of the Arsenal squad.

Despite the virtues mentioned, Xhaka is inconsistent and sometimes gives the ball away to the opponents. Moreover, he’s awful at defending and tends to commit fouls, resulting in cards or even suspensions. His discipline has been improving but he himself would need to be aware of that.

To sum up, Xhaka is okay in passing and creating spaces, reasonable in taking corners and long-range efforts, yet a horrible leader in defending. This is what makes him such a special player.

Here’s another important question, “provided the performance of the player, should Arsenal sell Xhaka for cash, or at least, loan him to another club for more experience?”

While a number of Arsenal supporters may say “show him the door, he’s still s**t after two f***ing years with us”, for me, it’s a dilemma, especially when you understand the bigger picture.

Yes, I agree that cashing in the Swiss can help the Gunners to fund for getting better players. If Xhaka’s departure can pave way for a reliable player in midfield, I’ll agree on the idea.

However, while he’s not the solution to the midfield problem of the team (this is the main reason why I miss Cazorla, who used to be the “little wizard” in the squad), selling him may worsen it instead.

The reason? He can score a long-range equaliser, take a free-kick to extend the lead or assist the winning goal of a comeback. You’ll never know when will the Swiss help to save Emery’s job.

The unpredictability of the sport (and Xhaka’s fitness) is what makes the situation awful to deal with.

I myself would prefer not selling him, but the rest of the Gooner crowd may say otherwise. Let me know in the comments if you have something to say.

“How much you wanna risk?” – An overview of Arsenal’s missing pieces of the transfer puzzle

“How much you wanna risk?” – An overview of Arsenal’s missing pieces of the transfer puzzle

Frankly speaking, despite the fact that Emery did bring quality players (e.g. Leno, Sokratis, Torreira) to the Emirates, as an Arsenal fan, I’d say, the club’s transfer business is all but a work in progress.

The Spaniard basically solved the goalkeeping problem and helped to clear the “dead woods” of the squad, yet it was not enough. To become a potential title contender again, there is still stuff which needs to get done and positions to be filled in.

  1. The centre-back position. Sokratis is okay but still needs time to improve. Mustafi can score goals but his defending skills are awful. Koscielny is currently injured. The crisis requires an immediate solution to end it.
  2. The winger position. Aubameyang is an experienced and versatile forward, yet he’s ageing like Mkhitaryan. Ramsey and Özil can feature as wingers, which isn’t their natural positions. A young attacker should be sought for bolstering their offence.
  3. The midfield position. Xhaka is consistent in being awful these days with Ramsey rumoured to depart from the Gunners squad. Guendouzi is yet to be a mature CM. A solid midfielder like Patrick Vieira in the past is needed.
  4. The playmaker position. Mkhitaryan is okay but with Özil sometimes disappear in big games, I’m surprised that no one’s mentioning that Arsenal would need someone like Santi Cazorla, who made things easier when he’s present.
  5. The left-back position. Monreal is a solid LB but he’s ageing. Kolašinac is an “up to standard” player but sadly, is injury-prone. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an adaptable player who plays better in midfield. Another headache for Emery.

So what are the possible options to be explored by the Arsenal transfer department? In my opinion, they are, but not limited to:

  1. Jamaal Lascelles. The captain of Newcastle United is both a solid defender and a leader in the dressing room, which is something missing in the Arsenal XI. They can also consider promoting Julio Pleguezuelo, another player who shines under club legend Freddie Ljungberg’s guidance.
  2. While someone like Ousmane Dembélé or Neymar Jr. (in your dreams, Alf) is a good choice, it may be seen as “pricey”. Giving the youngsters, like Reiss Nelson (upon his loan return from Germany), Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe the chances can be seen as an alternative.
  3. I sincerely hope that Arsenal will consider Casemiro, who’s an important yet underrated element of the Real Madrid squad. The same goes for Taulant Xhaka, who’s a Basel player. I’m not sure if he’s a good pick for the Gunners but I believe that Granit can do better if his brother is there.
  4. Arsenal missed out German “wonder kids” Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka who are now playing for Crystal Palace and Bayern Munich respectively. Christian Pulisic may be the answer that Arsenal want but the question is, will the scouts pay attention to him?
  5. Layvin Kurzawa can be a nice addition to the Arsenal team as he understands Emery’s tactics. On the other hand, Jordi Alba, who’s currently out of favour under Ernesto Valverde, is another feasible bet for the Spaniard.

Sure, Arsenal has star players in their team (at least Özil is still there). But in the end, I hope that Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Unai Emery will come to terms and understand that the club needs a huge revamp of the squad.

Just hope that Kroenke won’t become a Scrooge in the times of team rebuilding and get Emery the cash he deserves. After all, money can be mighty if it’s used in the right areas (looking at you, Manchester City).