Category Archives: Football

Guendouzi to Marseille – Well, That Was Expected

Arsenal agree deal with Marseille for Matteo Guendouzi | Metro News

The latest transfer rumors surrounding the club is the imminent departure of Matteo Guendouzi to Olympique Marseille for a measly £10m. For a player that had the huge potential tag hovering around his shaggy hair, losing him for 10 million quid is downright shameful for the folks at the Arsenal negotiation table, but that’s not news, as Arsenal has a poor history when it comes to player sales. However, one has to consider the fact that Guendouzi isn’t a player that would command a mammoth fee, as his performances have shown at Arsenal and most recently, Hertha Berlin.

Guendouzi, on the other hand, didn’t cover himself in glory, and should have been in contention to make the central midfield position his for the taking with Granit Xhaka leaving for Roma but he burnt his bridges with Arsenal gaffer, Mikel Arteta, to the point of no return. That debacle at Brighton two seasons ago should not have escalated to the level it did, but hey, football has its own drama, and we are here for the show.

Guendouzi is set to leave Arsenal after only 82 appearances and the solo goal in the convincing win against Qarabag in the Europa League. It is believed that he ruffled some feathers from a disciplinary standpoint while at Hertha Berlin last season and with him returning to the club this summer, many believed that his time was up at the club. At 22, he clearly has his best years ahead of him, but they will not be at the Emirates Stadium.

I hope he does well for himself at Marseille, and try to ‘grow up’ because his disciplinary issues will place an unnecessary dent on his reputation. It’s meant to be about the football, you know.

With Guendouzi and Xhaka leaving, having some new bodies at central midfield is an absolute must, that’s why I am drooling at the prospect of Manuel Locatelli joining us, which will be a very welcome addition to a playing position currently deficient in quality and quantity. 

Sayonara.

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The Curious Case of William Saliba

Olympique Lyon v OGC Nice - Ligue 1

William Saliba is a player that was lauded by Arsenal fans on his arrival two years ago for a reported £27 million from St. Etienne. A relatively unknown entity with a lot of potential waiting to be unearthed, the fans understood that he probably wasn’t going to compete with the much senior defenders in the side, so a loan move to his former club, St. Etienne, made sense at the time, and he featured regularly for the team, had his struggles with injuries, and with the COVID-19 pandemic complicating his loan terms, especially with the drama surrounding the Coupe de France final at the end of that campaign.

One assumed that last season would be the campaign we would finally get to see Saliba in action for the club, but after a couple of preseason games, it was evident that he wasn’t going to play a part in the campaign following a botched deadline day move as well as failing to register him in the competitions, so he spent the first half of the season doing nothing but training. I felt really sad about the situation because the Europa League would have been a good breeding ground for Saliba, and shockingly, he didn’t feature in the early rounds of the Carabao Cup as well. 

January couldn’t come quickly enough for Saliba as he was shipped to OGC Nice and actually started, you know, playing some football, earning rave reviews even to the point were he was nominated for Ligue 1 Defender of the Season despite joining the outfit in January. 

David Luiz finally leaves the club and we anticipated that the likes of Saliba will finally get the nod for the new campaign, but what does Arsenal do – try to delve in the market to sign Brighton’s Ben White for a reported £50 million, and according to recent reports, prepare another loan move for Saliba to Marseille this time.

For a player we spent 27 million quid on, we sure don’t rate him that much. Obviously, I’m not Mikel Arteta that watched him play in training, and in all honesty, I did not follow his progress in his loan spells at St. Etienne and most recently, Nice, but for the lad to be in contention for a Ligue 1 Defender of the Season spot, he must have had quite the campaign in the heart of Nice’s defense.

Arsenal has Rob Holding, Gabriel, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers as their registered center backs for the season, and with Ben White’s imminent arrival, one can see why Saliba may not cut it again this season. However, I feel that there is an underlying issue between the player and his gaffer to the point where it seems that Arsenal has no plans for him at all, and its more annoying with the fact that he pulled out of the French Olympic Team in anticipation of participating in a full preseason with the club, only to be potentially shipped out again.

Well, he signed a five year deal with the club and it seems like we won’t have a real glimpse of him in the first three years of his career with us. 

A real curious case.

Sayonara.

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Locatelli: The Answer to Arsenal’s Midfield Conundrum?

Manuel Locatelli: Italy player shines and scores against Switzerland - The  Athletic

The Athletic reported that Arsenal has made an official bid for Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli, with the club’s CEO, Giovanni Carnevali, confirming the North London club’s interest for their midfielder, as well as the bid. The 23-year-old midfielder began his career with AC Milan before moving on loan to Sassuolo three seasons ago and remained with the outfit after they reached a permanent agreement with his parent club. Locatelli has been an ever-present for his club, missing all but four Serie A fixtures last season but his form was deemed good enough by Italy gaffer, Roberto Mancini, to warrant a place in the Azzurri Euro 2020 squad, and he proved his worth with two well taken goals against the Swiss.

Manuel Locatelli may have scored four goals and created three assists in 34 appearances for Sassuolo last season, but he’s not just about these numbers. His true strengths are in his passing abilities (averaging 88.1 percent per match per WhoScored) with 1.7 key passes and 4.4 long balls per match, which essentially means that he can build up attacks from central midfield. His defensive side is also admirable, notching up 2.4 tackles per game, 1.5 interceptions per game, 1.8 fouls per game with the occasional clearances and blocks. He also has an eye for goal, as he’s renowned for firing surface-to-air piledrivers from his feet goalwards.

These are some impressive numbers and its evident that a player like Locatelli is exactly what Arsenal needs with the club’s midfield lynchpin, Granit Xhaka, already heading to the exit door with a move to AS Roma imminent. Xhaka moving out would create a massive void in central midfield with Thomas Partey being the only recognized mainstay in that position and we all know he struggled with fitness in his maiden season at the club. With Dani Ceballos returning to Real Madrid, Mohamed Elneny, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Joseph Willock are the only available options in central midfield, and if we are honest, they are more of quantity than quality. It’s also worth noting that Guendouzi has pretty much burned his bridges with the club and will be looking for a summer move out, while Torreira doesn’t fancy sticking around as well, so the numbers would actually be shortened.

A player like Locatelli also doesn’t come in with much fanfare, so he will be able to settle in at the club without any pressure to light up any fireworks, which will be good for his confidence. He may be young, but he’s the kind of player Arsenal would need in this project Mikel Arteta is building. On the bright side, he’s not expected to cost so much, and like Nuno Taveres’ imminent arrival, its evident that the club is strategically sorting out its deficiencies and we are hopeful that Locatelli would be donning the famous Red and White after European Championships.

Sayonara.

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