Arsenal news is thin on the ground at present. It’s at times like these that Britain’s leading papers decide to recycle the rumour files, bringing out two absolute doozies today.
The press have taken a break from endlessly linking Robin van Persie to Manchester City and have instead opted for nouveau riche Paris St Germain, while winger Theo Walcott’s constant Chelsea links have taken a break, to instead say he’s off to Spurs.
I would be seriously tickled and forever surprised if van Persie ever made PSG his new home at this stage of his career. Ligue 1 is a fun league to watch. Any matches involving Montpellier, Lyon, Lille or Marseille have quality on offer and are usually played in the right way.
But the French championship has no real pull-factor. It is an exporter of good players, not an importer. In recent times, Europe’s finest have not queued up in their masses to sign on.
PSG have tried to change that with the signings of Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi and Diego Lugano. But while an oil-money club like Manchester City can attract van Persie’s ilk and Russia’s Anzhi can bag Eto’o on the downturn of his career, the Parisians are stuck in the middle, thanks to their luke-warm league.
To Ligue 1’s credit, it seems the title is up for grabs with a host of teams and the fact that a lightly funded team like Montpellier can win the title on a relative shoestring budget is something most leagues can only envy. But it diminishes PSG’s cause by the fact that even their ludicrous wealth is no guarantee to success.
Van Persie needs trophies, and he clearly has to decide if Arsenal will provide that or not. If not, he needs to head to a club that is a coin-toss away from glossing up his CV. The state of football’s duopolies is an argument for another day, but its the Man Cities, Barcelonas, Real Madrids and Bayern Munichs of this world that would most sway him from London.
Lovely as Paris might be, its football club of choice cannot compete with those clubs. Football is the determinant factor here, not the money. Arsenal are offering him top dollar (as the budget allows), so the cash is really a moot point. Splitting hairs between £140K and £250K per week is a matter for Forbes magazine.
To me, the signs are pointing towards Robin staying at Arsenal, at least for one more year. He might leave on a free, or he might sign on afterwards, but if I had to guess, I’d say the Arsenal captain will be partnered by the club’s new forwards, rather than leaving them as replacements.
Onto Walcott, and the Spurs link’s only credibility is the fact that Andre Villas-Boas looks set to be their latest in a string of managers during Arsene Wenger’s tenure. AVB (so many abbreviations, today) held a genuine interest in young Theo in his brief stay at Chelsea and he’s reportedly set to pursue that target as Tottenham boss.
Theo’s contract situation is a lot more murky than van Persie’s (which is murky enough), as there is more value for Arsenal in selling Theo than holding him to his last year, should he want to leave.
The winger has produced moments of brilliance (refer to above video), and consistently followed it up with inconsistency. He’s not the finished product and nor should he be at the age of 23, but I think many Arsenal fans are unhappy with his progression as a player.
There seems to be a game of chicken being played between Walcott and Arsenal. The player can trade on his marketing appeal, his ‘Englishness’ and his obvious talent, but Wenger will clearly be wanting more than he’s produced.
The addition of Lukas Podolski and emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as competition from Gervinho and Ryo Miyaichi actually confuse the equation more. Does Walcott sign on for less money than he (misguidedly) feels he deserves? Or does he push for a move to a club that will offer that paycheque or perhaps where the competition for spaces is a little less congested?
On that particular matter, I am a lot less certain.