I was chatting with some supporters yesterday and they were saying how the transfer period gets them down because of the commonly held notion that Arsenal “don’t spend” on players. I’ve seen this a lot among Arsenal supporters and I really don’t understand it. With a few exceptions, Arsenal have bought great players every year that I have been an Arsenal supporter: Arshavin, Nasri, Eduardo, Rosicky, and Gallas. We’ve also outbid big names for great future prospects like Walcott and Ramsey. What we don’t do is act like a bunch of buffoons and buy insanely expensive big name players.
A lot of people see reports like “Real are in for Ronaldo” and “Chelsea make surprise bid for Kaka” and wonder why Arsenal aren’t in that mix. You have to understand, though, 90% of what the football press prints is bullshit. Bullshit designed to make gullible fans salivate over unattainable and unrealistic players. Players who may not add anything more to a team than bragging rights. Is buying Kaka at £50m a guarantee of success? If it was, why didn’t AC Milan win more last year?
There’s also a sense, fueled by the press, that buying players is simple, that buying Yaya Toure is like buying a loaf of bread. That Arsenal just head down to the mini-mart and pick up a Yaya. That’s the way it seems in all the comments. First off, Yaya has a stupidly expensive release clause in his contract, something like £80m. So, Arsenal could force his sale, but at that price they would be seriously foolish. In fact, if they paid £80m for Yaya I would seriously consider whether I want my money going to an enterprise so foolish. So that means that they need to convince the player to leave the lovely coast of Spain, where he just won a treble, including the Champions League, and come to a town that I love dearly, but lets face it, is not the weather, food, or trophy capital of the world. Convincing any big name player to leave is going to take a lot of money, money we don’t have. Hell, Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool don’t have the money either, but they fake it.
So, if you listen to the press Arsenal never buy anyone, but it just isn’t true. Arsenal spend prudently in the market, buying players who fit our system rather than buying dream team players who help fans jerk off to their fantasy team. I’d much rather support a team that I know is going to be in the Premier League for my whole life than have them do something foolish like bring in a Buffon and go down the path of Liverpool.
Which brings me to Vermaelen. Somehow, before we’ve even seen him in a uniform, he’s already being slagged off by “supporters.” Can we even give the guy a chance? I mean, it took me two whole seasons of mediocrity before I was ready to boo Eboue and here is a player who hasn’t signed anything yet and people are already saying he’s “not tall enough” and “not Arsenal quality.”
This is the same pattern when Arsenal sold Henry and brought in Eduardo, everyone got all stabby about Dudu saying he wasn’t Arsenal quality. Well, he clearly is and from what I’ve seen of Vermaelen, I’m thinking he will fit into Arsenal’s system very well. Yes, he’s 1/2″ shorter than Kolo Toure, and a whopping 4″ shorter than our aerial dominators Diaby, Adebayor, Bendtner, and Djourou. But the fact is that our tallest players are pretty poor in the air so height alone is not an indicator of aerial ability. Heading the ball is about timing and about how high you can jump or “hang time” and not about how tall you are. Moreover, defense, and especially defending in the Arsenal system is about strength and speed, which from what I’ve seen he has plenty of.
But you know what? I’m not saying he’ll be Arsenal’s saviour. I’m also not saying he’ll be Arsenal’s goat. I just think he looks a lot like William Gallas to me and William Gallas is Arsenal’s best defender, hands down, so let’s give him a chance.
That is, if he signs with us.
Other players who are not coming to Arsenal
He hasn’t signed anything for anyone yet but with Liverpool squawking about his value being above £23m I’m fairly certain Arsenal can forget about signing Xabi Alonso. Oh well, I like the guy and all but I think we have our Alonso already in Denilson and £25m or whatever they are looking for is stupid money.