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COMMENT: So, the clock’s ticking. We’re now well inside the final month of the summer market. Yet, Arsene Wenger insists he won’t “panic buy”…?
Erm, maybe its news to the Arsenal manager, but when you’re spending millions on players – and the season has already kicked off – you’re panic buying.
When you’ve lost your most senior defender and you’re scrambling around for a replacement, you’re panic buying.
And when you’re haggling over a price for a striker, having to go higher and higher as the deadline looms closer and closer, you’re panic buying.
Just what planet is Arsene on?
Jamie Vardy hit us all between the eyes last week. Gooners, especially. Yes, Arsenal had met his buyout clause. Yes, Leicester City were obligated to allow him to speak with them. But, no there was NEVER a call from Wenger about moving south. Incredible.
The players did their job. With Arsenal’s offer on the table, the likes of Laurent Koscielny talked up Vardy and what he could offer the team. The old boot room did their bit as well, Ian Wright devoting his national column on more than one occasion on how Arsenal would benefit from having Vardy in attack. But in the end, it wasn’t the players who let the pursuit down. Nor the legends.
The money was there. The buyout clause met. Yet, when it came to crunch. When a hesitant Vardy needed that assurance from the Arsenal manager. He was left hanging.
It was all a ruse, the apologists claim. Vardy never wanted to join Arsenal. He didn’t fancy the competition. He just used the whole saga as a way of getting a new deal. So they say. But when the manager of the club you’re supposed to be joining doesn’t bother calling, what option is left?
The day Vardy dropped his bombshell, Four Four Two were touting their latest big interview, this time with Nemanja Vidic, the former Manchester United captain. Just consider what the Serb had to say about choosing between United and Liverpool while still a Spartak Moscow player:
“Yes. Rafa Benitez called me and I nearly went there. I was interested in going but my English wasn’t good and I was struggling to communicate. Then Manchester United came. Fergie called me at my apartment and said: ‘I watched you play for Serbia against France – I want you here’. United were decisive.
“Everything was done very quickly, within two days.”
Where is that decisiveness at Arsenal? Could a call from Wenger have changed the course of this summer’s market campaign? Maybe. Maybe not. But what we can’t say about Wenger is that he left it all on the field. The players did their job. As did Wright and his pals. But Wenger, when he should be covering every angle he can to get this deal over the line, failed to deliver.
We’ve touched on it before, but it’s worth revisiting. The Vardy debacle has the same ring to it as what happened three years ago with Luis Suarez, Liverpool and John W Henry.
Arsenal met Suarez’s buyout clause. For all the taunts from Henry on Twitter, he and FSG could not block the Gunners from speaking with the Uruguayan. But, again, when it came to the crunch, no-one from Arsenal called Suarez. It was Steven Gerrard who spent day-after-day on the phone to his teammate, urging him to reject Wenger and to go around one last time with Liverpool. There was a deal to be done there for Arsenal. But their passivity was pathetic.
Now that passivity is being mocked. Olympique Lyon, just days before Vardy’s admission, declared to the world they’d rejected a €35 million offer from Arsenal for Alexandre Lacazette. So much for doing things behind closed doors. Again, Arsenal are being led around by the nose. They’re not in control. By going public OL have made sure fans on both sides of the channel know they’re running this. If Lacazette is to leave for the Emirates, it’ll be on their terms.
We’ve also had Julian Draxler declare openly he wants out of Wolfsburg. Again, another long-term target of Wenger’s. A player who has TWICE visited London Colney and the Emirates. And one who would welcome a move to the Gunners. And he’s done his part, essentially slapping in a transfer request with that interview on Monday in BILD.
So where is Arsenal. Where is Wenger? You can’t tell us that after two visits to the club, Draxler wasn’t told he was a wanted player at Arsenal. Yet, for all that risk, how’s he been rewarded? A €100,00 fine from Wolfsburg and radio silence from the Gunners.
If Wenger and Arsenal had a decent transfer policy, the centre-half and the striker would’ve been through the doors at the same time as Granit Xhaka. No matter how he spins it, that we have just lost our first match of the season to Liverpool, there’s nothing left for Wenger but to panic buy.
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