After a contentious and in the end heartbreaking season, this summer is turning out to be one of the most important periods in Arsenal’s illustrious and storied history.
On one hand we are bombarded daily with rumors, conjecture, stories, whispers and hear-say about in many eyes the most important player on the squad, one Cesc Fabregas.
The will he/won’t he saga has every Arsenal supporter holding their breath, waiting to see a conclusion sooner rather than later.
However, what really happens in this saga is only a small aspect of a larger and far more alarming trend that might be emanating from the Emirates.
The bigger question at hand is after these last five years of our unbridled faith in the decisions made by Arsene Wenger, is this the summer that breaks the faith?
For instance, let us say that Fabregas does go to Barcelona. Put aside the transfer money, or who Arsenal might be able to use the money on to reinforce for a second. What is troubling is that a leader, the captain, and the face of the youth movement promoted so much by Wenger has decided his future is elsewhere.
Compound this with persistent rumors that Gael Clichy wants to also leave, and that Fran Merida already left for Atletico Madrid and the so called stars of the youth movement don’t seem to want to stay around for very long.
It seems that there is a start to a very alarming trend of Arsenal buying young and selling when they are starting to hit a peak of sorts. If Arsenal and Arsene Wenger cannot hold onto their young stars then what good is a youth movement?
On top of this you are starting to have older veteran players starting to become unsettled. Say what you will about William Gallas, but he had perhaps his best season at Arsenal this past year until his injury and it will be a shame to see a talent go.
There are also rumors of Andrei Arshavin being jittery, with his constant “lost in translation” interviews that can be interpreted as him wanting to leave.
You also have Mr. Comeback himself, Sol Campbell, testing the waters with the likes of Celtic.
As a fan, this is slightly worrying. With the faces of the youth movement attempting to leave, and the older (and more experienced) veterans also feeling unsettled, it seems as if there is little to no loyalty in the locker room for the ones Wenger is placing his faith in.
The worrying only intensifies when one looks at the last few years. Thierry Henry in 2007. Gilberto Silva, Hleb and Flamini in 2008. Adebayor and Toure in 2009. It shows a worrying trend of experienced and quality players leaving the club.
Yet now it is compounded with the youth of the club, the reason we were letting these players leave in the first place, are wanting out.
What is causing this friction and fractious nature for the club itself? Is it the five year trophy-less streak? Is it Wenger’s hesitant transfer attitude towards big money spending? Or is it simply coincidental?
In the end I have a few opinions on what I consider one of the most important summer’s in Arsenal history. Certainly important for at least the next decade in Arsenal football.
First off, I do not see selling Fabregas as an automatic negative as long as two things come from it. One being that Arsenal hold firm to there supposed high asking price and the other being that the transfer money is spent on experienced replacements at certain key positions.
If, however the transfer money is spent on a few 18-20 year old promising players who have yet to make any professional mark yet or god forbid, Wenger hordes the cash for another time, I feel that it will perpetuate the problem that we now find ourselves in.
So the key is quality experience to reinforce and add backbone to the squad itself from the Fabregas transfer, if it happens.
Secondly, we cannot allow Sol Campbell to leave due to his experience, leadership and at times playing ability.
He was a revelation since his January transfer move and brought a certain amount of what is needed to truly make Arsenal a special club again.
Third, we must fill a few key positions with quality players. One attacking midfielder for Fabregas if he leaves, but more importantly a CB and a GK. It is imperative that we bring our goals allowed down to even think about winning the Premiership, forty goals is absurd.
You guys can decide who these players are, but what’s important is that is done.
Finally, we need reinforcements. One of the biggest problems, if not the biggest, for Arsenal was the crippling effect injuries had on us.
To me we need this most in the middle of the field. We need at least one backup for Vermalean and whoever partners with him, on top of keeping Campbell and moving some youngsters up. We need to give Alex Song some help in defensive mid, and we also will need reinforcement in the form of an attacking midfield player if Fabregas leaves.
If these things can be done, I not only retain my faith in Arsene Wenger as a manager but wholeheartedly believe that Arsenal can do special things next year.
However, if we horde the alleged Fabregas money or spend only on youngsters. If we allow Campbell to leave. Or if there is another mass exodus like the past few years then my tune will change.
I will still be a wholehearted Arsenal supporter, but my faith in Arsene Wenger will start to become shaken.