Arsenal Train In Germany, Ferguson Moans In Sweden
Arsenal continue their pre-season preparations in Germany ahead of the summer’s last friendly against FC Koln on Sunday. From the rueful smile of a haggard looking Robin van Persie to the genuine glee of a perpetually happy Andre Santos, there are some nice snapshots on Arsenal.com as the squad is put through their paces.
Our pie-loving Brazilian had a bit of penalty shoot-out fun with Alex Song as well. Song won the first match-up but Santos bounced back (literally) to level things up second time around. Both players are easy-going carefree spirits, the kind of personalities that lighten the mood in the dressing room. Every team needs a few characters like that and overall the squad looks like they are enjoying themselves as a group.
In contrast to his Dutch colleague, the Cameroonian doesn’t seem like he wants to be anywhere. Still, footballers are a different breed these days and it wouldn’t shock me if Alex Song sent out an open letter to Arsenal fans tomorrow stating he’s moving to Spain to train alongside Sergio Busquests in order to improve his diving ability ahead of the Rio Olympics in four years time.
Speaking of characters, Per Mertesacker believes this team has plenty of them. Echoing the sentiments of most Gooners this summer, the German defender feels the squad is stronger now than during last season.
I think we have a better situation than last year. The team is full of characters, good players and every position [has competition]. So I am looking forward to the season because I think we can show the potential we have in a better way than last year.
It’s cause for optimism. In recent seasons, injuries have struck at crucial times to weaken the starting eleven. Arsene’s ambition of competing on four fronts late into the season hasn’t always been matched by squad depth. There seems to be an acknowledgement of this fact, all three summer signings being experienced proven performers. And while guaranteed is nothing, our chances are far better with them on board than without. If Robin van Persie were to be held back, the team starts looking like real contenders.
Right at this moment though, the Dutchman doesn’t look a happy bunny at all. Reports of Manchester United’s interest were confirmed by Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday. The Scotsman claimed to be nonplussed by Arsenal’s reluctance to drive Robin to Old Trafford in a stretch limo and just hand him over.
We have made a bid and they’ve been trying to negotiate with other clubs. I don’t have a gut feeling on it at the moment, I must admit. We’re not getting any breakthrough with Arsenal. It’s difficult to say why they’re operating this way. I don’t know what their thoughts are because they’re not giving anything away.
The remarks stink more of desperation than genuine hope. The situation is very similar to the Nasri transfer last year when for all of SAF’s posturing, the petite Frenchman chose City’s riches. Whatever Roberto Mancini says, you can be sure Manchester City will yet have a say in Robin Van Persie’s transfer.
Ferguson also highlighted the difficulties faced by football clubs these days in acquiring genuine talent.
I find it quite amazing that a club can pay 45million euros for a 19-year-old boy. To tell everyone that PSG are here they’ve signed Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They must have spent about £150m in the last month. The only deterrent to that is UEFA.
For a club reported to have offered in the region of £30m for the same player, it’s a bit rich of the United manager to criticize PSG for outbidding them by £5m for 19-year old Lucas Moura. The truth is that even with United’s huge revenues and sizeable borrowings, Ferguson is impotent at present to compete against the new money flowing into football. His statements echo what Arsene has said for years now – it’s not a level playing field.
On Van Persie once more. From a purely footballing context, it would be ideal for Arsenal to hang on to Robin even if it means he’ll leave for free next year. With Cazorla joining, Van Persie would benefit from better delivery as the Spaniard is very adept at picking passes and threading balls through. On the other hand, selling him to United would bolster the Mancunians considerably. As Arsene tries to compete against the free-spending of Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour, he will be acutely aware of not strengthening last season’s runners-up.
Financial reality may dictate otherwise but if Arsenal have found that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, watching Van Persie, Cazorla and Podolski playing together would be ideal from a fan’s perspective.