G’day and welcome to Monday! The weather around here is cold enough to freeze the nuts off a plough, so hopefully you’re all tucked up away from the worst of it as we take a look at the latest developments over the weekend.
The major news in the last 48 hours is the ongoing progress of negotiations between Arsenal and Lyon over a deal for Alexandre Lacazette. With multiple reports, statements and quotes coming thick and fast it seems the general gist of the story is that the deal could be announced as early as Monday UK time. The very chatty Lyon prez, Aulas, has played down talk of the deal exceeding €60m but confirmed that the fee would equal a record for both clubs. Arsenal’s current record transfer fee was the £42.5m deal we completed for Mesut Ozil, back in 2013.
“The deal will happen for something between €45 and €50 million. To be close to €50m is something unique, and will be a record for Arsenal and a record for Lyon,” Aulas said. Previous reports of a figure in the region of £44m would now seem to be right in the ball park. Whether the deal includes any add-ons or other clauses remains to be seen.
The French international, 26, is expected to be in London early this week to complete the formalities with an announcement set to follow shortly after. Lacazette had been set to join up with Atletico prior to their transfer ban, but with the Madrid team out of the running and having also recently re-signed Antoine Griezmann to a long-term deal, we’ve swooped in and now stand on the verge of our first major signing of the window. Lacazette has been in lethal form in recent seasons with Lyon and found the net on 37 occasions over his 45 starts last campaign.
News of the imminent deal for Lacazette was slightly overshadowed by some concerning reports that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had turned down Arsenal’s latest contract offer, casting further doubt over his future at the club. He is one of a number of players at the club entering the final 12 months of their contracts and at 23 years of age, the Ox is now looking for more than just a decent increase in his pay packet. Having been made the target of speculation in regards to a move to Liverpool, news of his decision to reject our latest offer leaves us in a difficult position. Having invested much time in nurturing his talent throughout recent injury interrupted seasons, the Ox broke through to become a shining light on field – especially as the season drew to a close. Whether we allow him to run down his contract and risk losing him on free this time next season or recoup what money we can for him now, most likely to a Premier League rival – it seems that he will have to move on in order to get the playing time that he is determined to have.
Finally, Alexis Sanchez gave a revealing media conference while on international duty at the Confederations cup during which he commented on his future.
When asked whether Claudio would become his team-mate at club level as well as with the national team, he responded; “Good question! Right now I’m focused on the Confederations Cup. When this is finished I will see if I stay of if I go. I don’t know.” Before then being asked if he knew whether his future was clear; “Yes it’s clear, but I can’t tell you.” He then refused to go into further detail over his Arsenal future, batting away the Sky Sports reporter with a simple; “I don’t know, my friend, I don’t know”
The current relationship between Alexis and the club is undoubtedly strained with several instances of a difference in opinion being played out on the field, most notably when he was left out of the squad that was defeated at Liverpool in the New Year following reports of locker room tantrums on top of the on-field displays of frustration.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester outfit has been strongly linked with a move for the Chilean, but whether Arsene sanctions a deal to cash in on his top scorer from last season is a point of debate for fans of the Arsenal, as we wait to see who blinks first in what will prove to be the most important saga of the summer for the club. Selling to a direct league rival or allowing him to leave on a free in 12 months (possibly to the same destination) are the only two options should Alexis refuse to sign any deal tabled by us.
It’s like choosing between a shit sandwich and a kick in the plums.
Let’s pray his comments refer to the fact that he wants to remain at the Emirates and simply can’t announce anything officially until the finer points are locked away. After all, we are notoriously fastidious when it comes to dotting the “I’s” and crossing the “T’s” before making any kind of official statement regarding player dealings.