Wenger promises defender as Arsenal set to face Chivas

Arsene Wenger’s first rule of transfers is that we don’t talk about transfers. So, if starts talking about transfers and he tells you “we will be signing a defender before the start of the season”* then we will be signing a defender. It is such a definitive statement that Arsenal must have someone lined up and ready to sign. Wenger must be confident that Chelsea won’t “swoop” and that the player is fully committed to signing for Arsenal. It’s such a bold thing for Wenger to say that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arsenal announce the deal today or tomorrow.

So, welcome to the Arsenal, Jonny Evans.

Now, before you throw your computer out the window while screaming “SYLVESTRE TWO!!!” the only newspapers linking Arsenal to Evans are the Mail and the Metro. So, there is no chance that Arsenal are signing Evans. Right? I mean, links to Evans came out of nowhere and he’s not that good.

Shkodran Mustafi is the more likely target. Sky Germany reported that Arsenal started negotiations a few days ago and that puts Mustafi squarely in the wheelhouse. Besides which, Mustafi is a German international, all of his defensive stats are vastly superior to Evans, including aerial duels, he’s young (24), he’s EPL trained having come up through the Everton academy, he’s a hugely experienced CB for a 24 year old, and most crucially Valencia are absolutely gagging for money so we can get him on the cheap.

So, welcome to the Arsenal, Shkodran Mustafi.

In all seriousness, if Arsenal sign Jonny Evans I think there would be a chernobyl-like meltdown from Gooners the world over. And rightly so. The man is reportedly being pimped for £16m. That’s an absurd price for a player who is about as tasty as a piece of chewed gum.

As for the other, less definitively signing, position that Wenger is looking for (forward) Arsenal are still being strongly linked with Lacazette. There is no doubt that Arsenal bid on Lacazette but the Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas seemed absolutely certain that Arsenal would not come back in for him. The Telegraph** is saying that Lacazette is dying to join Arsenal and that he is going to reject a new contract from Lyon. Along with other papers*** there are now suggestions that Arsenal are going to make an improved bid.

All of this looks like a player who had his head turned by Arsenal but his club is testing his resolve by rejecting the first bid. The player has responded by rejecting an improved contract offer. No one place is reporting all of this information. That makes me think that reports are true and Arsenal are after him and he wants Arsenal. Whether we can get the deal done or not is the last hurdle.

Since I know some people revel in pointing out any time anyone else is wrong, probably because their only joy in life is “scoring points” on people online, I would like to say that it looks like I was wrong and Arsenal are going to sign another player. Specifically, a defender. Not only that but that Arsenal are going to sign a player before the season starts.

It’s truly a remarkable turn of events for Arsenal and I don’t feel any regret in my earlier statements. While many chose to read Wenger’s statements as definitive, they weren’t. They were the same kind of statements he has made every year for the last 12 years. He is nearly always guarded with his proclamations, even on the verge of signing Özil he said “I might have a surprise for you.” This year was no different: “we are working hard, we are interested in one or two additions, etc”.

So, when he changes his tune, which is exactly what he has done today by stating that we are signing a defender, then I change my tune. I would be truly crazy if I didn’t. I would sound like that guy Baghdad Bob; “There are no defenders dropping on Arsenal.”

This is what I do here: I give my reasons for my opinion. If the information underpinning my opinion is wrong, I change my opinion. And for the record, I’m not saying this to gather praise. I don’t think of myself as special for being a rational thinking human.

What’s funny is that all sports writers are wrong. We are wrong a lot. I mean, we are wrong a staggering amount. Look at any paper that deals in transfer rumors, they are probably wrong 90% of the time. And if they are not wrong, then they aren’t really saying anything. Managers are wrong a lot. Fans are wrong an absurd amount. Players are wrong a lot — the fact that a player makes a mistake is how fans decide whether the player “sucks” and when a player scores a goal that player no longer sucks. You’re wrong, I’m wrong, we are all wrong. Just get over it.

Perhaps I’m jaded after following Wenger for so long. I know that last year’s transfer activity made me super cynical about this club. So, I still don’t trust that a deal will be done for a forward. But rather than just saying “I don’t think this will happen” let me show you my thinking.

If I were to give you a percentage chance that Arsenal would sign a forward player after Xhaka, it started at about 70% back when Arsenal bid on Vardy. When Vardy didn’t show up for the physical, it dropped to 30%. When Vardy rejected Arsenal, I put it at about 10%. That was a real low point. It moved up to 60% when I read that we bid on Lacazette. Then back down to 15% when Aulas said that Arsenal were not coming back and I looked around to see that there were almost no top forwards left. Right now, after all of the information I’ve looked at, admittedly most of which is tenuous, I think we are about 40% chance of signing a forward. Will it be Icardi or Lacazette? I don’t know. My guess would be neither, which is based on my 60% thinking that we aren’t signing a forward.

As for a defender, I have it at 95% chance of happening. 80% of that is for Mustafi.

Anyway, Arsenal have a game today against CD Guadalajara. They are colloquially known as “Chivas” which means “goats”. They are also known as a club which only hires Mexican born players. They are 11th in the LIGA MX and haven’t won the league since 2006.

Funny thing about their last league win, it was the Apertura. A lot of Latin American countries have two seasons: one which kicks off in the Summer (the Apertura) and one which kicks off in Winter (the Clausura). They also have weird relegation rules which I’m not going to explain.

From what I can tell, Chivas have been struggling these last few years and they are currently 11th on the Liga MX table. They also lost their last match 4-0. However, Chivas are a team (unlike the MLS All Stars) and their players are probably not going to leave before half-time so that they can get back to their real clubs (unlike MLS All Stars) and Chivas will have a huge fan following in the stadium, so I expect this to be a stern test for Arsenal.


*the actual quote is “Yes I do (expect to sign a defender before the season starts)”
**See the self-harm I commit in the name of getting you stories? Reading the Telegraph is like reading used toilet paper
***Now I’m sitting in the pit of a porta-potty, my hands turned blue, sifting through “the papers” for you


  1. I’ve always found Jonny Evans a decent player and think at that price he’s a bargain and would be an asset. Always has a good game against us.

    1. Yeah, everyone and their mother has good games against Arsenal. Doesn’t mean much.

  2. Enjoyed hearing you describe your transfer mood percentages, and get how that can change both by specific events of comments. Would like to see more of this in your blogs to provide some additional emotional evidence about the posts.

    Re striker. As well as lacazzette and Icardi, there is also the odd link to Jesé roderigez. Was a great prospect a year or two ago and surprised there is not more noise. Any opinions on whether he would be a decent and maybe slightly cheaper signing?

    1. Yep a “7amkickoff Transfer Mood Percentage” updated whenever there is “news” would be amusing. I would certainly log in to check it…

  3. Hahaha. I see you went out of your way to present the quote in context. 🙂

    I don’t want Johnny Evans, but he wouldn’t be the worst signing either. Wenger did say he’s looking for experience there. Would obviously prefer Mustafi. Did he spend long enough at Everton to count as homegrown?

    There’s apparently some bad blood between Wenger and Aulas from Wenger’s Monaco days, (Not sure how true that is, but I’ve heard it) and Aulas is notoriously hard enough to work with as it is. Lacazette will be a better, more technical version of Walcott and I would be happy with that. Happier than with Icardi who is just a younger version of Giroud. I like Giroud, and I think Icardi can be better, but he doesn’t offer us anything different.

    Why is Sanogo not on tour? Is he injured, or is he on his way out?

    1. Only signing worse than Evans would be a one legged howler monkey.
      16m is the sort of money you spend on a (young) 2nd tier striker (Musa, Janssen, Pelle), not a middling Man United rejected defender who spits on other people.

      Mustafi was at Everton from May ’09 to January ’12. He turned 21 in April ’13. I am not sure if he would count as homegrown, but I do not think he would be.

      1. Just shy of the 36 months required then. Oh well. Thanks for the info.

        Maybe it’s just that I’ve not seen Evans play for a while and have forgotten how terrible he is.

  4. Since we’re talking about feelings…

    I feel…like what we need to be competitive this season is to do three things (now that Xhaka has signed): 1) buy a very, very good central defender, 2) buy a striker, and 3) replace Walcott with an actual effective wide forward like Mahrez or similar.

    And since I feel…with some certainty…that only one or, at the most, two of those things will happen, I feel… Like I don’t give a shit. This will be an Arsenal season like every other Arsenal season. Continued faith in underperforming players, failure to strengthen properly, lots-and-lots-o’ injuries, a poor February, followed by a mad dash for fourth.

    I’d love to be wrong, but I feel…I’m not.

    Still. I’ll watch the games, I’ll comment, I’ll hope. I’m a fan, even when it means that following Arsenal is the equivalent of living through Groundhog Day.

  5. Don’t we know how this works by now? Jonny Evans rumors leaked by the club to show Valencia we have options so we can get the upper hand in negotiations. They know we need a player, we know they need cash. If we can seriously show we’ll look elsewhere, we win.

    I think Mahrez is seriously considering us. But I’d rate that at 30 percent today – noises from Ranieri suggest they’re willing to let him do a Cesc – stay another year then go to barca. If there is any interest at all from them, he’ll likely do that. If there is none, he may move to us. Expect developments after the Barca game against them.

    Lacazette sounds how you describe it. If he’s set on us, we’ll win. But if he just wants to get out, and would take PSG or Chelsea, then we’ll probably not. I put this at 50 percent.

    So that’s 0.5 and 0.3. The chance of getting both would be 15 percent, the chance of of getting just Lacazette would be 35 percent. Just Mahrez as 15 percent, and none as 35 percent. Could all change tomorrow of course.

  6. Dont think anyone can compete with Shkodran. German, experienced, good price and can play at right back, thank you very much. Mahrez next!

  7. I don’t know why but I can’t see “Chivas” without thinking of “Chivas Regal” and the whiskey.
    The Arsenal fan in me would like to think it’s because that’s the names of Tony Adams’ dogs but I guess it could just be the drink in me.

  8. I don’t know why but I can’t see “Chivas” without thinking of “Chivas Regal” and the whiskey.
    The Arsenal fan in me would like to think it’s because that’s the names of Tony Adams’ dogs but I guess it could just be the drunk in me.

  9. With Wenger and Gazidis’ comments on our rivals’ spending power, I don’t see us spending more than a further 50 million pounds in the remaining period of the transfer window. Unlike in the past when we were a ‘selling club’, I doubt if we’ll make any significant sales. Of course someone like Walcott could still be sold before August 31 if a competent wide player comes in. The only way we’ll get in (for instance) all three of Lacazette, Mustafi and Mahrez is if we balance the books by allowing the trade of Walcott and someone like Gibbs. I personally believe Gibbs won’t leave this summer. My prediction? Either of Lacazette or Mahrez comes in plus Mustafi. We can get in the latter quickly if we want. Lacazette and Mahrez belong to the category of high-stakes poker that Wenger has already alluded to in the past few days. Those two deals, were they to go through at all, are more likely in the last few days or hours of the transfer window. That, unfortunately,is how the current Arsenal regime conducts transfer business. Would Leicester really like Mahrez to play against them on the second weekend of the new season?I just hope this habitual gambit won’t cost us precious points early in the season.

  10. Nice to hear how you come to your conclusions. Arsene does seem to be admitting a defender is definitely going to be bought which is good. Per probably has another year in him so there’s no harm getting his replacement in early.

    Speaking of goats……

    You might be interested in a recent film called The Witch. It concerns a strictly religious family living in America on the outskirts of civilization around the time when believing in witches and witchcraft was a big deal. As their crops begin to fail and their youngest child disappears, their strict religiousness and superstition leads to an atmosphere of suspicion and blame, where every slight is a sin and every setback is either a punishment from God or a curse. It’s well worth a look.

    And there is a goat in it called Black Peter.

  11. On the subject of transfers. I know Arsenal tends to get more scrutiny that other teams and I’m sure if I still read the red tops I’d be reading about how we’re in a crisis or something, but has Chelsea, City, Spurs or Liverpool been doing much more business that Arsenal?

    I know United have been splashing the cash as usual, but it doesn’t seem like any of the other big teams are doing anything amazing transfer wise. I don’t think any of them have spent as much on a transfer as Arsenal spent on Xhaka.

    I’m not saying we don’t have business to do, but, bar United, I don’t think any team in the league has made any truly amazing transfer that makes me think ‘I wish that was us’. It looks like lots of teams are having trouble getting big transfers done, or are waiting around to see what shakes out over the next few weeks.

    1. I do have one. Guardiola for Man City. I think Marlos Moreno or Gabriel Jesus, i would wish we do it too.

  12. Tim, can you do a comparison of Mustafi with Manolas (he looks bloody good) and Koulibaly (Spelling?)?

    Also, how does Xhaka stand compared to Kante?

  13. Holding giveth and he almost taketh away.
    Xhaka getting feisty.
    Coquelin always feisty as he channels Flamini.
    Santi, Santi, Santi has been so sorely missed and tonight we are blessed to have him back.
    Ospina looks more commanding for Columbia than Arsenal.
    Communication between Iwobi and Monreal a little shaky in this preseason game.
    Announcers confusing Iwobi/Walcott earlier on.

  14. Hmm, a lot of people not put off by Evans. I think if your first choice CB gets injured, and your club has 200 million in the bank, and then brings in Jonny Evans for 16m I think you would have the right to go absolutely fucking mental. Let’s have some ambition. Jonny Evans is a throwback to the ‘stadium move financial restraints’ era. Which unfortunately doesn’t feel like a previous era, despite the ozil and Sanchez deals.

    PS Kos is the first choose CB for most fans, but per is a CB and Wenger made him the captain, so that makes him officially the first choice CB. Wenger picks strange captains.

  15. You are the always right Tim. For me, It’s you and Arsene Wenger, you two are always right

    1. He was just unbelievably terrible. He has to go this summer, because he is a real liability.

    2. When he’s missing even those tap ins then you know he’s really struggling. I mean Walcott has been terrible for more than a season, but for a period of time he was able to mask that by scoring goals. It’s just not happening for him. He probably could do with playing in a new environment too.

      Perhaps we could loan him out if no one is prepared to buy him outright.

    3. Joel Campbell as well. He’s just not cutting it, and he knows it. It’s written all over his face every time he flubs a pass or fails to score.

      1. I think it’s the other way round with him. He normally plays unspectacularly, but within the system, and always has at least one killer pass in him, and he works hard. I think he senses or has been told his place is under threat and is trying too hard to do something spectacular, which is causing him to not play well.

        I could see him going if we sign someone like Mahrez, but I think he’s an ideal squad player. He definitely should be lower on the disposable list than Walcott.

        1. I can see that point of view, and I hope you’re right, but then again, dealing with the stress is part of the game as well. We’ve got a couple of players on the cusp that look like they may buckle and overthink themselves out of a place on the squad. Debuchey being another one. I don’t remember ever seeing him as mentally out of the match as he was against Chivas.

  16. Well at least you’re only reading the used toilet paper and not using it again or something.

  17. Very nice strong goal from Akpom.
    Campbell and Walcott just have to relax in front of goal and the goals will fly in.
    Wenger at least is not offering flat out denials on certain transfer targets and that in itself is the most encouraging thing. All he is saying now is that he won’t mention names and that is just fine and dandy as long as one name not under consideration is Jonny Evans.

  18. We all know Wenger’s typical responses when he was asked about transfers and when he replied “Yes I do” to the question of whether Arsenal will have a new CB before Liverpool match or not then I can guarantee the deal is almost done, like 99.99%.

    In fact I am pretty sure he will sign a striker and a CB this summer. 100%. Why? Well he did made some mistakes in the past but he is not stupid. He knows that we will have to use Holding and Chambers as CB and only has Walcott and Akpom as striker for some games in August. There is no way he chooses to put himself in that tricky situation when Arsenal have money to get some really good options out there.

    We will have a striker with different skill set than Giroud. We have an excellent target man in Giroud, a poacher or finisher will not only help the French man but also provide some depth in tactical variety for the team. That is why Wenger was after Vardy, a speedy finisher. We may have Lacazette or another promising poacher.

    Mustafi, Lacazette will be gold. Add Mahrez to that and we will have the best transfer window ever.

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