How Mahrez would fit in at Arsenal

Pokemon Go is all the rage. In case you have been beach camping for the last month and have no idea what this is all about, it’s a game that people play where they use their phones to track down virtual monsters in the real world and throw Pokeballs at them until they “catch them all.”

Kids love the game. Adults love that their kids are moving around, outside. Reporters love to report the juicy accidents caused by people walking around, looking at their phones. Social commentators love to report on the sad state of American children, that they need an augmented reality to get them off the couch. And people on Facebook and Twitter love posting about how much they hate the fact that people are (SHOCK) having fun in a collective fashion. With the normal critique being “but they aren’t really engaging in the world around them!” As if they almost can’t taste the irony of posting that on FACEBOOK.

What the game has exposed is how many people are playing games on their phones at any one time. Last week, no one noticed that the majority of the American population was playing games on their phones because most of them were playing those games on their couch or, more likely, their toilet. But now that these people are outside we can all see in real time how many people are playing games.

The tag line of the game is “Gotta catch them all” because the idea is to collect as many pocket monsters as you can. The more you catch, the more powerful you get. Sorta… like football.

There are some Pokemon more powerful than others and you can train the pocket monsters to evolve and become even more powerful. Sorta… like football.

Unlike football, to catch a Pokemon, you throw a ball at it. In football, you just throw money at it. And if you miss with the first wad of money, you just keep throwing money at it until it suffocates under a pile of money.

The good news for Arsenal supporters is that Arsenal have piles of money. The other good news for my fellow Gooners is that there is a wild Mahrez on the loose. Now, all we have to do is point Arsene Wenger in his direction and load him up with wads of money so he can capture Mahrez. The pump Mahrez full of candy and star dust and get him on the field wearing the #11 shirt.

Before Arsenal failed in the Vardy gambit, there were two players this summer who I felt would be game changers for Arsenal: Mkhitaryan and Mahrez. Both wide players. Both blessed with excellent vision. Both the best player on their respective teams last season. Both fill a crucial need for Arsenal in the wide forward position.

Mkhitaryan went to Man U, probably because he was tied of playing Champions League football and wanted the new challenge of having to play under Jose Mourinho, who just burns his players out after a year.

Mahrez, just yesterday, rejected an £80k a week offer from Leicester and like any rare Pokemon, there will be many players throwing their Pokeballs at him. Or money. Probably money.

I don’t need to remind you that Mahrez is a great player but I’m going to anyway.

He’s 25 years old and was the Premier League’s highest rated player last season based on the WhoScored.com composite. He is almost entirely left footed (2 shots per game with his left, 0.2 per game with his right) but played as an inverted winger, starting 32 times on the right for Leicester.

He isn’t limited to right or left sided play and can switch sides at will, like Alexis Sanchez, who is a right-footed player who likes to start on the left. Positionally alone, he’s the perfect player for Arsenal.

He took 86 shots last season – 65 from open play and 6 from the penalty spot (the remainder from set pieces) – and scored 12 goals from open play and 4 penalties. Those 12 goals from open play make his tally more than any Arsenal player (Alexis scored 11, Giroud 10) and more goals than Walcott, Campbell, Welbeck, Iwobi, and Ox combined (11).

He also added 11 assists for Leicester, good enough for 5th best in the League and tied with Silva and Milner. Arsenal’s entire right side of Ramsey, Walcott, Welbeck, Iwobi, and Campbell combined for 12 assists.

His total number of key passes (shots created for teammates) was “only” 68. That’s good enough for 7th best in the League but reflects more of the counter attacking nature of his club’s play rather than any inherent quality. The inherent quality comes in when you see that he was third in the League in through ball key passes with 11. Fabregas had 13, and Özil 12.

I can’t overstate the through ball enough. It is the main stat I pick up on to see quality of a player’s vision. The most creative players always have the most through balls. Özil was first in overall through balls played, but in second place were Fabregas, Toure, Sanchez and Mahrez. Wenger teaches through ball passing, climbing the ladder, verticality, to his players and Mahrez fits right in to the Wenger style.

Mahrez was also 2nd in the League in successful dribbles per game with 3.5. That’s just one more than Sanchez with 3.4 and 4th in the League in getting fouled with 2.2 per game, tied with Alexis Sanchez.  People will say that his dribble numbers are inflated because of his team’s counter attacking set up and there is truth to that. I don’t have number of dribbles on counters available as a stat but I can tell you from watching him play that he’s not bad at dribbling in tight spaces. You can see that for yourself by watching any of his skills compilations videos. He did have to help break down packed in defenses at times and his close control and trickery were crucial.

I hope that you’re picking up on a theme: that Mahrez and Sanchez are very similar players. They are so similar that having both players on the pitch at the same time would make Arsenal almost unplayable from a defensive standpoint. As an opposition manager, you’d almost just look at the starting lineup of Sanchez, Özil, and Mahrez, and just write “good luck with that lot”.*

The one place where Arsenal would still need improvement, even if they were to get Mahrez, is in the forward position. I’m not hating on Giroud, he’s a decent enough hold up player, but with all of those creative players on the team, Arsenal would really shine if they had a predatory goal scorer.

No one knows who that will be, yet. But just like Pokemon Go, Wenger has to get out there and catch him. In fact, catch them all, Arsene.

Qq

*This is what Leicester City manager Micky Adams literally wrote on the team talk board before his 18th place Leicester played Arsenal in the final match of Arsenal’s unbeaten season (2003-04).

 

57 Comments on How Mahrez would fit in at Arsenal

  1. So sign Mahrez and Higuan and just out score the opposition. Who needs defence!

    Sadly probably just a dream.

    Although one day we will sign another top top player so that Ivan can be proven right that we can actually sign anyone, not just be linked with everyone.

    • I don’t understand how that would lower Arsenal’s defense. Mahrez plays as much defense as Iwobi or whomever else Arsenal play wide. And Giroud’s only defensive contributions are headed clearances.

      Please explain.

      • Not disagreeing with the point re our general wide forward approach to defence but I felt the team team looked better balanced with one side being more active defensively. This is only from when I saw Joel Campbell playing but it allowed us to pack the left hand side during attacks without worrying about the other side. With our wing backs getting forward all the time we can be exposed on the opposite side to our attack from time to time.

        Just an observation from a few games although I would prefer the quality forward play if we were to get Mahrez. Any defensive weakness would not bother me.

        • The wingbacks have t go forward because Joel Campbell is a liability on offense. If you have real attacking quality up front, the fullbacks stay home.

          • Hopefully we fix the defence by having Xhaka and Coq sit in front of the CB’s. Been shown year after year that we can’t survive with our stye and only one midfielder who will sit, track and tackle.

            All Wenger’s best teams had this base to protect the attacking fullbacks: Vieira and Petit/Parlour/Gilberto/Edu.

    • I don’t think that could even be remotely inferred from the article.

      Good argument, by the way. I wasn’t sold on Mahrez, fine performer as he was last season, until reading this. I’ve changed my mind.

      (by the way, my new ID means the friendly flame-thrower formerly known as ormgordon. Two can play the change game, Tim)

  2. No.It would create an imbalance.Unless you play ozil as false 9 and 2 wf in alexis and mahrez which wenger wont do,so no.

    • Yeah, it creates an imbalance… for the opposition defenders to cover. They can no longer just throw two players at stopping Alexis or Özil.

      And no, Arsenal don’t have to play Özil as a false 9. He plays as the 10. Forward up front. Two wide players, two center mids. 442. Wenger’s preferred system.

      This argument is just looking for an excuse not to buy him.

      He is better offensively than any of Arsenal’s current wide options on the right and just as good defensively as any of Arsenal’s options on the right.

      End of discussion.

  3. It almost feels like the sure way to get Wenger NOT to buy a player is to urge him to buy a player! Seriously, you just know when quizzed in September why he didn’t go for Mahrez, he’ll bring up Walcott, Ox, and Iwobi, none of whom — except in some future possible world in Wenger’s imagination — can hold a candle to Mahrez.

  4. Love the pokemon go analogy, I keep smiling reading this.

    On the Mahrez thing. I do hope we land him, but i’m a bit dubious with his game when we don’t have the possession. I read in his interview that he has difficulty tracking back and usually Ranieri had to subtituted him near the end of the match, because of his stamina. I guess if we sign him, we could treat him like Pires, and if so, we need a Henry to compliment him, like Vardy at Leicester. I’m not envisage Giroud as a compliment with him just like Sanchez is not, so if the rumour of a swap deal between Higuain and Giroud is actually happening, it will be interesting.

  5. I’m very fond of Mahrez, he is a joy to watch, but I’m against signing him for one very simple, stupid and superstitious reason.

    You know how they say, if you are scared of flying because of a plane crash, always fly with someone who has survived one, because if chances of being in a crash are one in a million, chances of being involved in a crash twice in a lifetime are something like one in a billion, and that means that with that guy on board, you will be always statistically safe.

    It’s similar with Mahrez, because I can’t remember a PL player that has won the League twice in two successive seasons, playing for two different clubs.
    So if he comes, statistically our chance of winning the League would be very lower, and as an Arsenal fan, I think I would pretty much want my club to finally win this fucking League.

    • Playing might be an overstatement, but only this season Mark Schwarzer became the first guy to win the title in successive seasons with two different teams. Maybe some of his statistical anomaliness will have rubbed off on Mahrez.

      Were you being facetious? It seemed like it to me, but no offense if you weren’t. I think England just doesn’t do very many transfers between top clubs. I don’t know but I would guess that it has happened in Italy a few times. It’s definitely happened in Germany as Bayern buy anyone who does well in the Bundesliga.

  6. Wherever Mahrez ends up, it’ll be interesting to see if he can repeat his big-game heroics in his tricky 2nd season in England. His goals against City and Chelsea alone should mark him out as a no-brainer for us. And he can play while Alexis “regenerates” (love how Arsene talks about players like they’re androids)!

    I’m quite enjoying how cocky other team’s fans are getting about our transfer dealings. Amazing what spending bucketloads of cash does for the confidence of idiots whose teams flopped so badly they won’t even play in the UCL this season.

  7. Mahrez will never join the Arsenal. It’s slim pickings out there for any decent, quality players that Wenger actually wants to loosen the purse strings for. We are in for another nail biting summer transfer period after which we will be hugely dissatisfied.

  8. I actually think the only reason Wenger hasn’t gone for Mahrez yet (and probably even other teams) is that there’s currently a more pressing need elsewhere on the pitch and if you buy him, there might not be enough left to fill that position. For us, this position is the striker position. My belief is that if/when it becomes clear we’re not getting any striker that’s an upgrade on Giroud, we’ll definitely be in for Mahrez and frankly, I’d be satisfied with that. I just hope we get him for 40 million Pounds or less.

    But this leads to another question. Why don’t we just sell Walcott? The answer is simple. Who’d be mad enough to take a punt on Walcott and offer him more than the criminal salary he’s currently on? I sure hope there are crazy clubs out there who would do this. Selling Walcott for a similar fee to what we’d buy Mahrez for might lead to a heavenly scenario of landing both Mahrez and Higuain, say.

    • I don’t think money would be the problem in signing both. We have lots of money. We’ve just offloaded Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini’s wages. We are/could be selling Szczesny, Debuchy and Campbell. That’s likely to free up more money than any Theo Walcott sale would.

      Not saying we’ll sign both, or even one of them. Just that money probably won’t be the main issue. (As long as those wages/fees are somewhat realistic)

  9. I would like it if Mahrez joined. We’re in need of an upgrade in the wide forward role. It seems like Walcott isn’t going anywhere. Joel Campbell might be. I’m perfectly ok with that scenario where Walcott is backup to Mahrez.

    I like Joel Campbell. He’s a hard worker, has good awareness, can play a through ball, and has a decent finish. But, the manager doesn’t seem to think that he can grow beyond being a squad player.

    Alexis, Mahrez, Walcott, Ox, Iwobi. That looks much better.

    All the same, we also need a centre forward. Not necessarily ‘world class’ since those aren’t really around. But a capable finisher and competitor for Giroud’s starting spot. Akpom will be hoping he can impress during pre season.

  10. All said in the post make lots of sense based on logic and footballing reasons. Mahrez is a no brainer for our team and he’s French! But if Wenger is still counting on the like of Walcott, Ox and Ramsey as our right side offensive players, God helps Arsenal. Or by the time Wenger could make up his mind, Mahrez would have signed for a rival.

    Our MF business isn’t done yet tbh. Don’t for a second believe we’d count on Wilshere. We need to trade in Wilshere for a younger version of Cazorla asap.

  11. All said in the post make lots of sense based on logic and footballing reasons. Mahrez is a no brainer for our team and he’s French! But if Wenger is still counting on the like of Walcott, Ox and Ramsey as our right side offensive players, God helps Arsenal. Or by the time Wenger could make up his mind, Mahrez would have signed for a rival.

    Our MF business isn’t done yet tbh. Don’t for a second believe we’d count on Wilshere. We need to trade in Wilshere for a younger version of Cazorla asap.

  12. Barca and Mahrez. Really think Bacca would be great for us. Proper poacher who likes to hang on the last shoulder and moves laterally in the box really well. Two footed and a naughty canny finisher with both feet and head. Half the price of the other players we have been linked with too.

    Mahrez, Hames, Draxler. In that order for me.

    Bacca, Benzema, Higuain, Icardi. In that order.

    Nail an elite wide player and a striker with movement to play on the break and quality to create their own shot when teams defend deep and we piss this league.

    UTA

  13. All the reports based on Di Marzio’s report are that we are going to talk with Icardi’s wife, Wanda Nara who is his agent about how serious they are about moving on from Inter.
    Icardi signed a 4 yr deal in 2015 after he scored 22 goals and finished joint top goal scorer.

    Something must have happened to have Nara proclaiming that Inter had put Icardi up for sale. It seems like Nara wants the best possible landing site for her and their family. So if I’m Wenger, I would do a NBA style dog and pony show: Arsenal facilities, playing role, team mates, London lifestyle, schools, etc. We need to out sell Atletico Madrid to bring home the bacon. https://uk.sports.yahoo.com/news/wanda-nara-inter-put-icardi-122024896.html

    http://www.calciomercato.com/en/news/icardi-s-agent-to-meet-arsenal-next-week-to-discuss-potential-tr-992643

    Some sites are already bad mouthing this deal in terms that he is not a Giroud upgrade. The number for me with Icardi is 23 and not 28 or 29. He’s South American, check. He’s a striker who scores in Serie A, check. It is not about what he’s done but what he can do in the EPL, at Arsenal, with our midfield setting the table.

  14. Di Marzio is reporting that Wanda Nara is to meet with Arsenal this week to discuss her husband, Mauro Icardi. (http://gianlucadimarzio.com/calciomercato/arsenal-contatti-con-lentourage-di-icardi-chiesto-incontro-a-londra-nella-prossima-settimana/) Arsenal need to give her their best presentation ever to win her over Atletico Madrid and Napoli (if Higain goes to Juventus). Icardi doesn’t want to leave Inter but he was promised (hand shake agreement) a salary increase after Inter’s finances improved. Inter valued Icardi at 20mil then and now they value him at 60mil and the wife is saying, show us the money. http://www.espnfc.com/story/2911681/mauro-icardi-could-leave-inter-milan-without-salary-increase-agent

    Icardi remains a remote proposition that depends on whether Inter cave in to Nara’s bargaining tactic of meeting with us. Her husband has a contract to 2019. He’s looking for a salary of 135k a wk and Inter would want 60-70mil.

  15. No. of players we should buy within 6 weeks.
    1. Would not mind if Mahrez comes to our club, if not, would love a wide playmaker on the right.
    2. A clinical finisher.
    3. A defensive partner for Koscielny.

    Takes the total to 4 purchases this season, hopefully it won’t imbalance the team.

  16. Sorry for long post:

    Sadly I do not think that the club or manager is a consistent top draw attraction for top or emerging top players. There is a hierarchy, that I think shows us within a 3rd pot of Europe and 2nd pot in UK:

    Pot 1 – European “royalty”, existing squad has multiple world stars, willing to pay top dollar

    Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern

    Pot 2 – Credible challengers to Pot 1, willing to pay top dollar, perceived as trophy winning clubs, have managers that attract top stars and work with “super agents”

    Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Juventus, Atletico Madrid

    Pot 3 – Manager not an automatic attraction for top stars, pay decent amounts but not quite top dollar, squad has the odd star, in a top league and regularly participate in Champions League

    Arsenal, Liverpool, Dortmund, Inter / AC Milan (probably 8-10 clubs)

    Pot 4 – Aspirations for pot 3, but serial chokers

    Tottenham

    Whilst not all of the criteria will apply for each example, hopefully you can see my theory. I think that transfers between clubs in the same pot is less likely as there is less club attraction.

    History has shown that if you wish to move pots and become more attractive you need to invest and actually overpay for a few stars. Unfortunately we seem to want to always get value rather than “going for it” and we are actually nervous participants in the transfer market. We seem to be afraid to identify a target and the go all out to get them just in case we over pay, they do not work out or something better may come about later.

    Ultimately, unless we change this mind-set then we will always be a great club, but a club where the great players play elsewhere.

    • From when I first started watching football almost exactly 20 years ago, I can’t think of a single club which has grown in profile and financial terms more than Arsenal. Excluding clubs like Chelsea, PSG, and City who did it in a different way.

      But that’s not the ‘history’ we’re looking to emulate.

      What does ‘overpay’ mean too? No one else paid 42.5 million for Ozil (who was a bonafide star) Did we overpay? Or did we get value because he’s awesome? Wenger’s most famous answer to what he’d do with 100m is to give it back. But what he actually said seriously was that he would prefer to spend it on one player. The player who makes the difference. If that player exists and is available, we’ll probably be all over him. Even ‘overpay’.

      This sort jumping ‘pots’ doesn’t happen by paying for huge transfers as a one off. It takes years and years of doing it (and being able to do it) to get there. Arsenal aren’t quite ready to make that jump yet. Depleting the bank won’t achieve that. Let’s not worry about that and just worry about winning the title/UCL this next season. If that needs 100m, then we should do it. But worry about getting bigger? Naah man. No one does that better than Arsenal.

      • Is see your point Shard but slightly disagree. I think there is a real danger that we become less attractive to great players not more attractive. I realise it is a long term game but if our reputation as a top club is damaged that is hard to recover.

        I think we got lucky on Ozil and we had the cash at short notice and Wenger realised he got a great player. But when do we ever go toe to toe with another big club and out bid them. That is what I meant by over paying but probably the wrong term.

        • Perhaps, but we actually can’t do that right now. We can compete on transfer fees. In fact we’ve been doing that for a good few years. But we are still liable to get outbid on wages. Our self imposed cap seems to be around 150-160 k. I can see us going to about 200k in the near future, but we aren’t going to pay the likes of Mkhitaryan 250k. Now whether this cap figure needs to change and can change, I don’t know.

          But, I don’t think we’re becoming less attractive to players. Players just have more options now, and they reject other big clubs (even bigger clubs) as often as they reject us.

    • I completely agree with this.

      Arsenal are not a draw for top talent any more.

      Ozil was unceremoniously dumped in our laps. I know what he said about “Wenger being the reason” he came here but the real reason he left Real Madrid is because they didn’t want him. What must really sting for Ozil is that the team who booted him just won 2 Champions League titles. In a certain light it looks like Real Madrid dumped Ozil and got better.

      Sanchez was also booted out of Barcelona and they won the double that season. Sorry, they won the treble.

      Neither of those players got a step up coming to Arsenal and it’s increasingly looking like players aren’t even willing to use Arsenal as a stepping stone to bigger clubs.

      There are also no bargains left in the world and no uncovered gems. Even a player like Milik, who I think would be great at Arsenal, is not unknown — Everton were after him and were rebuffed by Ajax.

      Honestly, I have no idea what Wenger is doing any more.

      • I don’t think Ozil meant Wenger was the reason to leave Real. I doubt anyone believes that. Just that once it was clear Real were getting rid of him, he picked Arsenal. Over PSG apparently.

        And if memory serves, Giroud was wanted by Chelsea as well and picked us. I believe this only because Chelsea have actively pursued a policy of buying players that are going to their rivals. Giroud was smart enough to pick us. The point is, we don’t always lose out on players. There are still bargains. It seems to me like Elneny was a real bargain, even if all he turns out to be is a squad player. Xhaka seems like a great deal.

        Arsenal apparently STILL trail players for a long period of time. Perhaps this is good, perhaps it isn’t, or perhaps that just depends on how it works out in each case. But there obviously is a plan. Maybe the problem is that the plan is too solid, not flexible enough.

        Oh and the point about stepping stone. I reckon this is going to be the case for most English clubs. With every club now having enough money to hold on to players unless they’re out of contract or earn them a huge fee, clubs will be used less and less as stepping stones. We’re not going to sell Ramsey to Barcelona for 30m today. Why would we? If they want him, they can pay 70-80m. Which is unlikely. Hence, we’re not used as a stepping stone. I genuinely don’t get why this is a problem, and an Arsenal specific one at that.

        • Ozil chose Arsenal because Arsene had tried to sign him in 2010 from Germany.

          So, he picked Arsenal after not picking Arsenal.

          Giroud picked Arsenal over Chelsea because “There are French players. There is also Arsène Wenger who let me understand he really wanted me. Chelsea is very nice, it is a great club, but I am not convinced Di Matteo knows who I am.” Picking Wenger over Di Matteo is a no-brainer.

          The stepping stone: it’s a problem because we can’t seem to get guys on the way up anymore. We either buy raw talent or finished talent. But those “ready to pop” players were Wenger’s wheelhouse. He still gets them occasionally (Koscielny) but more and more we are buying finished players. This seems like a good but the problem is that finished players are more expensive and I’m not sure we have the money needed to make a team of finished players. We did just pay £12m for Petr Cech.

          So, for example, striker. We aren’t getting the Martials or the Miliks and since we don’t have time to groom a kid we are forced to buy Giroud or Higuain. In the Giroud case, he’s below the level we need. In the Higuain case, he’s above the amount we can (or will) spend. That inability to find players in the middle is hugely frustrating and probably the main reason we aren’t going to get a striker. Or if we get a striker it will be someone not at the level we need.

          In fact, at this point I won’t be at all surprised to see Wenger say he’s not buying a striker because we have Welbeck, etc.

          • The most recent example of missing out on a potentially great player is Dembele choosing Dortmund. I would be stunned if we were not interested, I suppose the question is how hard do we try for these sort of players – do we go for a hard sell? Surely we could offer more money than Dortmund fairly easily.

          • I dunno Tim. Maybe you’re right. But I think it’s just a shift in our priorities to try and get more established players. If we’re short we get signings like Elneny (who should fit your criteria of an upcoming player). It seems to me that we feel we have potential in our squad and want to add the win now player to it rather than more potential.

            I’m not fussed about who we get as striker. As long as we get a decent one. Carlos Bacca would be good. Even though he’s hardly the most exciting and dominant. I think he’ll score goals. Not getting a striker would be folly. Unless Akpom is going to be a star. (didn’t seem like it last season)

          • Bacca and Icardi are Giroud level strikers. I can see Wenger making the argument that we don’t need more of those types and in general I would agree with him.

            I can’t wait for the fan meltdown when we lose to Liverpool on opening day.

          • Don’t care about the meltdowns anymore.

            Icardi is Giroud level, but faster, and younger. Should fit into your upcoming criteria too. Not that I think he’s coming. His wife/agent -wigent? has made it pretty clear that they just want an improved contract from Inter.

            But wait. Is your argument that Wenger doesn’t want to sign a striker? That I find hard to believe.

            I am certain we’ll sign a striker. I am also certain that there’ll be complaints regardless of who it is. I am almost certain that we won’t sign both a striker and a wide forward, which is a shame.

          • Icardi is not a good footballer. Upcoming is a player like Dembele or Martial, players who are phenoms but need to play to reach the next level. Icardi’s top level is Giroud and he’s not even there yet.

            Wenger did sign a striker. That Japanese fella.

            I think he WANTS to sign a star striker but it won’t happen because he only wants to sign a player better than what we got and I can’t find any players like that who want to come to Arsenal.

            Higuain is going to Juventus after they sell Pogba for all the money in the world. Besides which, we burned that Higuain bridge a while ago.

            Bacca is OK. Maybe a slight upgrade on Giroud. But most importantly, he’s a body and I think you and I both agree that we simply need a body. If there is any player that Wenger might sign it might be him. Depends on what kind of bargain Wenger can have him for.

          • I don’t know how good he is anymore but I wonder if Mandzukic may be shaken free if Higuan goes to Juventus. A similar player to Giroud and would provide competition. Would be too much to hope that Dybala would be released.

          • Share that opinion on Mandzukic. Dybala is basically Alexis. In that he’s awesome.

            I think Icardi can exceed Giroud’s level, but I agree that Milik or Dembele have higher ceilings.

            I’m not sure how much of an upgrade Higuain is. Is he really a lethal finisher? Some reports say no. I doubt he contributes as much in the buildup as Giroud. Bacca seems to me to be more of a pure penalty box poacher than anything. Wonder what their conversion rates are.

            Are Lukaku and Lacazette now definitely off the table? Still looking to hear from you on why you think Lacazette won’t be a good signing.

          • My feeling is that when it comes to attracting talent money speaks far more than a club’s history or current ‘draw factor’. Money IS the draw factor. It’s why you have players going to China or lining up to join Chelsea…who aren’t even playing in the Champions League and who switch managers every season it seems…and there’s a good chance you won’t even start when you do join.

            Arsenal’s problem is that we don’t spend like other clubs, and that’s why we’ll be left behind again this summer, and why we’ll finish fourth this coming season. I’m totally unconvinced by the idea that there are players saying no to Arsenal based on anything other than cash. Like everything else it seems, reputation has a price tag.

  17. Tim, several of my comments about the Di Marzio report on Icardi’s reps meeting with Arsenal this week disappeared. Two comments came from a different IP address but then i corrected that and a 3rd comment also was not posted. All the comments were labeled awaiting moderation?

  18. A work colleague was telling me about Pokemon Go.

    She said that even if you caught them some of the stronger monsters are able to break out of your ball.

    It’s my understanding however that you can obtain stronger balls with which to catch them.

    Sufficed to say, if Arsene is to land Mahrez, Draxler or Higuain it will require sufficiently strong balls.

  19. So the meeting between Napoli and Juventus principles occurred Monday and we can put to rest any notion that A) Juventus will pay the Higuain release clause and B) Higuain wants to leave Napoli because it just ain’t so.

    http://www.espnfc.us/story/2914083/gonzalo-higuain-set-to-stay-as-napoli-reject-talks-with-juventus

    So once again we see the collapse of media spun transfer fantasy being dashed to bits on the rocks of reality.

    Giroud’s agent also called BS on the absurdist fantasy that Arsenal would trade his client + 50mil for Higuain. He was a tab more polite and just said the rumor was “untrue”.

    Higuain is a top 5 striker but at his age and with our history with him, his ship has been lost at sea now for 2 yrs.

    We clearly have no clue as to what Arsenal are up to in regards to a striker. Some ‘bright’ reporter might ask Wenger a question or two at the upcoming friendly against Lens Friday so we can hear his oft repeated refrain, ” we are not on that case”.

    Surely you would think that someone at Arsenal would ring up Aulas and Galliani and say, “what number are we talking about to get us permission to talk to your boy (Lacazette or Bacca). Lacazette has a bigger upside while Bacca would be essentially a ‘rental’ player.
    That’s the thing, we don’t know what the philosophy is in our striker hunt: up and coming, ‘Vardy’ finished product or ‘Rooney’ finished product. Clearly any team team with a stud striker is holding on to them for dear life and we got nothing to pry them away (money nor CL nor Wenger’s good name).

    I can tell you that AC Milan just bought the top Serie B striker Gianluca Lapadula (26 yo) who finished with 27 goals for Pescara. He’s a late bloomer like Giroud was and I wonder if we (Arsenal) even knew of him? Then there is IIija Nestorovsky (26 yo) who just signed a 4 yr deal with Palermo after scoring 69 goals in 90 games for Inter Zapresic in the Croatian Football league. We have to be looking for the next for our next Eduardo because we need to once again be thinking out of the box.

    Icardi is not out of the box and there are issues with his whole deal. The player wants to stay at Inter but needs us to leverage a salary increase from his team. Why the f**k are we even bothering unless they come planning to do more than bat their eyes at us and enjoy the world famous prawn sandwiches. If he were to come, does the wife and kids come or stay in Italy and does he become homesick and unsettled if they don’t come. Then there is that Wayne Bridges-John Terry thing in his background. I’m leery of his wife and agent, Wanda Nara who is 6 yrs his senior and who comes off in the press like somepoor man’s Argentinian Kardashian.

    Unless we are going deep, deep into the wilderness to hunt down a striker, the only straight forward deals (I know Arsenal don’t do simple, clean and straight forward because it is not in their DNA) I can see are Lacazette or Bacca.

  20. Here’s an out of the box thought, instead of raiding Leicester scouting department, why don’t we raid Dortmund’s. I’m watching Ousmane Dembele (19 yo) and he’s a sped up version of Messi who BVD got from Rennes for 15 mil (are you kidding me?). He makes you say Iwobi who?.. Where was Wenger’s ‘French connection’ on that kidl? His stats/metrics had to jump off the spreadsheet. You don’t even need stats or Football Manager, you just need eyeballs.

    • Apart from Dembele to Dortmund, Leicester also just bought Nigerian Ahmed Musa from Russia. Only seen his highlight clip obviously, bu he looks to me like he’s going to be an able Vardy replacement eventually. Leicester have bought well again I’d say. Much better than signing Troy Deeney for whatever ridiculous figure was being quoted.

  21. You know what. I think for Ousmane Dembele, Wenger reckons he’s got the same potential in Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chris Willock. He’s talked them up, and there have been reports that Jeff will be promoted to the first team this season.

    There’s this guy in Toulouse, Wissam Ben Yedder who seems to me to be a good finisher. 25 year old. Might be worth a look. There’s something gloriously unspectacular about him. In the sense that he doesn’t seem especially quick, especially tricky, but he can do all those things and score. Rumoured Tottenham target too (at some point at least)

    • The Guardian says West Ham and Leicester are in for him, and that since he’s in the last year of his contract he could be available for as little as 10m euros.

      Ok, I think I would be quite upset if we don’t go for this guy. He’s scored some good goals for a relegation threatened team in France. I think he can do more with our midfield behind him, plus he’s young enough to improve. At that price he should totally be worth buying.

      • More than looking at the goals he scored, I look at a player who is relaxed and confident on the ball and scores with both feet.

  22. Would love for Mahrez to join Arsenal. That would mean someone would need to be shown the exit door, either Walcott, Ox or, Campbell.

    I am so sick of having huge expectations at the beginning of the season and then drowning in the realization of deficiencies within our team.

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