LOANS AND STRIKERS – Le Grove – The Arsenal Opinion Blog

We’ll start with a bit of a loan watch chat.

Ainsley is NOT impressing Jose over in Roma. The fallen giant of a manager has used him all over the park, but the player has not done enough to earn a permanent move this summer. If you are struggling in Serie A for 6th placed Roma, your career really is hitting the skids.

Needless to say, we’re building a bank of evidence to suggest that maybe his future isn’t going to be at the very top of the game… and maybe Arteta was right on this one.

William Saliba, a man who commands the oddest of online cults is heading back to Arsenal this summer, ready to fight for his place in the team next season. He has CRUSHED his loan. His form has been truly exceptional as has his attitude. He didn’t take the loan as a sleight, he used it as Mental Powerade™, and he’s made it happen for himself. Chris Wheatley reckons he’s going to be given a bumper new deal and let’s be real… why wouldn’t a 21-year-old center-back that fancies himself accept that?

Is there a better club for him in world football right now? We are built for a ballplaying center-back, we have the youngest team in the league that is on a clear growth trajectory, we’ll probably add some really exciting players this summer, and he is the EXACT profile we need in a back- up defender.

‘But we’ll need to work on his feelings’… hey, who knows, but what I do know about sport is the infantilization perform in players is usually overblown, especially at big clubs. Players like Saliba, that grew up with Thierry posters on their wall, want to play for big clubs like Arsenal. They are the 0.1% of football players in the world, do you really think competing for a place at a top club is an upsetting episode? A loan move at 20 years old is pretty standard in world football. If his feelings are hurt, maybe he’s not the player we thought he was, if he’s motivated… like his press comments suggest… then we have a player on our hands.

Hector will be sold this summer, that’s best for everyone, we’ve seen pretty clearly this summer what a right back in an Arteta system is and it ain’t Heccy B.

There’s some chatter that the red shorts we wore at the weekend were a ‘commercial decision’ with regards to future kits. I have to say, that would be a bit of a crossed line for me. We are not an all-red team. I thought the combo looked horrible. I’m not sure that’s a creative or viable option for a perm kit. Move the needle on design, for sure, just don’t roll the needle under a tank.

There’s a lot of striker chatter in the air and some interesting names being served up. The one that drew a lot of controverse yesterday was Marcus Rashford. I’m on the fence here because I think that’s the sort of name that we might very well pursue. He has all the ingredients to be a top-class striker/winger, the biggest thing he’s missed over the last few years is proper coaching. I do wonder what a player like that could turn into under the Arteta regime. The bigger concern with him is probably focus, I know he’s out doing great things in the community, but you do have to consider the things Arteta has been saying about Saka and ESR: They dedicate their whole self to one thing, the game.

That said, Arteta said he was looking for PURE goals, so we’ll see.

One thing fans should stop fantasizing about is Haaland. The player is a beast of a man, but let’s be real here, we aren’t going to drop Mino £30m in cash, and we’re not about to blitz our wage structure with a £400k a week player. To be honest, who is going to do that right now? If Arsenal did, you’d have to give raises to everyone. I think we need to find a striker that is on the up but below the radar, or a player that’s fallen off. We are not a galactico club, nor should we aspire to be that right now. The strategy is clear: Find elite youth talent with 2-3 seasons of top performance under the belt, then help them find the next level with Arsenal.

The really interesting thing about top 4 this season, is if we make it, our summer goes from 3 players to needing 6.

Right, short one today. Check out Johnny on 5 LIVE with Micah Richards, Rory Smith, and Mark Chapman (skip to 35mins).

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