Vlahovic case is curious, as Arsenal rightly explore elsewhere
Well it appears we have the answer behind the noises on the Vlahovic transfer. Those noises appear to be coming from Turin and as seems to have been reported by a number of different journos last night, the Fiorentina player has been bid for by Juventus and it is likely that will be his destination and where his future lies, not in North London with The Arsenal.
From the outset this appeared to be a long shot and what we have heard for most of this window is that the player doesn’t really want to come to England, his preference was to stay in Italy, with Juve being that number one choice. So in some sense this all seems quite obvious as the dominoes start to fall in front of us. But what I find curious – and have done throughout if I’m honest – is our long-standing pursuit of him. Apparently we’ve been in for him all January and it’s only now that Juve have come out and supposedly made a bid, that we appear to have properly given up on the player and are exploring other options.
I find everything about this situation curious. Firstly, I’ve listened to a few podcasts and read a few stories that Juve are flat broke. Indeed, in September they published finances stating that they are in a whole world of trouble from a debt perspective, recording €209.9million losses in 2020/21. In the summer of last year they bought Locatelli from Sassuolo for €37.5million on a one year loan deal with an obligation to buy at the end of this season. They are now supposedly getting Vlahovic for €67million, so lord knows where they have suddenly found all of this money from. Unless they do some kind of mega deferred payment scheme.
From an Arsenal perspective it is curious to me too, however, because we are often told that clubs don’t go in for players unless they know there is a chance to get that player. So what has happened here? Has sit been that the agent has behind closed doors made eyes at Arsenal, to smoke out Juve, like we heard from Sassuolo and Locatelli’s agent last summer? We were in for him and the chairman of Sassuolo even said so last summer, before Juve went ahead with the deal, so it looks that way from the outside. And if that is the case, I wonder if Arsenal’s dealings with these clubs from now on – or probably more likely the agents from Italian clubs – will be a little differently. I certainly hope so.
Don’t get me wrong, having started to see the talent of Vlahovic recently I could understand why we all got excited and I did too, but the noises about him not being convinced, about him having Arsenal as a midway point for a player who could then move on to a Madrid, Barca, or even back to Juve, never properly sat right with me. Don’t get me wrong, I know we aren’t the biggest club in the world and have lost many players to those sides in the past, but having talk of that before a player has even joined you? That felt weird and in a sense I’m glad we have a little more certainty now. Now the club can focus on other targets. It is frustrating that it feels right now that we’ve wasted almost an entire window chasing a golden egg-laying goose only to be told that we can’t have it, but Vlahovic isn’t the only striker in the world who can’t improve on our current forward line options. In fact, I’d go as far as to say there are probably thousands of players who would be an upgrade on Lacazette and Nketiah right now.
Some of those that have therefore now been named are Luka Jovic from Madrid on loan. He’s endured a torrid time at the club having come from Germany where he was a star for Frankfurt and is a player who has apparently lost a lot of confidence. If he could recapture some of that form then a loan deal until the end of the season would be good for all parties. Real get a player they can have back with a bit of confidence and potentially get more money for if they want to sell, the player gets his confidence back, Arsenal get a guy who will hit the back of the net. To me it makes sense. Plus, it enables us to keep our powder dry until the end of the season, where we can make a judgement on what we need.
So to my mind this makes sense as a short term option and provides cover in the absence of Aubameyang, who will clearly be moved on if the club can find the right deal.
The other option is for Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad. He was a player who impressed at the Euro’s, is tall, athletic and powerful. At 22 years of age he fits the right profile and Sociedad would possibly be a little easier to negotiate with. He only has eight goals this season but last season he bagged 17 and the season before that he his 16, with Martin Odegaard supplying him with service as the Norwegian was on loan from Madrid at the time. Isak feels like the sort of player who might work in an Arteta system. Apparently he’s a guy who is good with receiving the ball back to goal, his technical ability is good and he has good close control. Sounds very similar to what Arteta is asking Lacazette to do, no? Only this guy is about a foot taller and I’d wager he doesn’t look like he’s blowing out of his arse after 60 minutes. He is also a decent linking player and is a decent presser of the ball too. Have a read of this article, which gave me a bit of hope. He may not have been as clinical but at 22 he is still learning his trade and you’d hope he can only get better. So for me I think he sounds like a good option. But the price has to be right.
Let’s just hope Arsenal can get it done. If not now, then get Jovic in on loan and have a look at Isak in the summer.
Catch you all tomorrow.
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