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Arsenal don’t need players who ask for guarantees

ANALYST
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1.91K   //    14 Feb 2015, 20:55 IST
Arsenal need players who really want to make a difference at the club

Recently I wrote about why I don’t think Arsenal will sign Schneiderlin this summer which led to few interesting conversations. I stand by my views that “evidence” Schneiderlin is coming to Arsenal is a mixture of yearning fan interpretation and media suggestion and deliberately misleading signposting.

I cannot prove that my theory is any more correct than those which believe he will join but some of the “explanations” for why he hasn’t been snapped up were quite interesting and none so more so than the assertion he has not joined because he would want assurances that he would be first choice.

Irrespective of a player’s talent, if said player requires assurances and guarantees of game time I generally feel relieved we did not manage to secure that player’s signature. Arsenal, despite recent improvements in commercial deals, work within a budget. Their financial limitations may have expanded but they do not have signed blank cheques.

A player demanding guarantees speaks volumes. It says to me that this player either doesn’t believe he is capable of shifting the obstacles in front of him or is too lazy to do so. Either way I don’t think Arsenal can afford to buy such players. I believe it shows a lack of conviction, fighting spirit, and winning mentality. And if there are things we need more of at Arsenal it is fighting spirit and winning mentality.

In some ways I believe we have artificially created a guarantee mentality with some of our younger players when in the past our manager cited the potential of impinging their development as a reason for not purchasing reinforcements in certain areas. How much of that was smoke and mirrors to protect the board whilst Wenger had little finance to work with I cannot say but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as prior to the Emirates move and since our stadium debt finance to turnover ratio has eased he has shown a clear willingness to purchase first-team ready players. It could also be argued he started doing it in 2011 when the majority of his purchases from that point were players over the age of 24.

Whether Wenger actually believed he would ‘kill’ a player by purchasing experienced/ready-made competition or just an example of covering a lack of money I have to say I fundamentally disagree with the premise. I’ve always maintained that if a player is good enough he will make it into the first team regardless of age. Those players who choose not to stay and fight – for whatever reason – rarely leave Arsenal to have a top-flight career elsewhere that causes consternation amongst the faithful about the path not taken.

I feel the same way about players who want guarantees although such players tend to already be established top-level players so will have some degree of a quality career elsewhere. There are examples of such players falling by the wayside though – none more so than Lassana Diarra who was not willing to wait his turn at Arsenal or force his way back into the team. Conversely, Francis Coquelin is someone who bode his time, kept his head down, never gave up on the dream, and is now reaping the rewards with an extended run in the Arsenal first team and a new contract to boot.

As recently as 2013 we missed out on a player who wanted guarantees in the shape of Luiz Gustavo who joined Wolfsburg rather than fight off Arteta and Flamini….

He has performed well for Wolfsburg and has clearly flourished as a result of regular football – something he found hard to come by at Bayern Munich – and so far they are much closer to the league leaders than the 30 points they finished behind them last season. How well would he perform if Wolfsburg were to buy another player in his position or if Josuha Guilavogui’s loan is made permanent? Or if Junior Malanda had not tragically lost his life and become the regular starter his coaches believed he would quickly be?

I cannot say he would have fought harder nor can I say he would have crumbled but the mere fact he required assurances from Arsenal tells me he is someone who best performs when he knows he’ll play every week which at Arsenal is a rarity given our injury history. We simply could not afford to have just one player for each position – not having Gabriel (despite him not playing yet) earlier in the season cost us a fair few points with just Mertesacker and Koscielny as our recognised senior defenders.

Schneiderlin is a fantastic player who performs week in week out for Southampton but if he too wanted assurances to join Arsenal you have to ask yourself if you can count on a man who thinks of Flamini and Arteta as competition. You shouldn’t even have to ask for assurances if those are the players standing in your way. Flamini is a shadow of the player we were thankful to have last season and Arteta’s injury problems coupled with his age make him scant opposition.

The only true competition is Coquelin and whilst he has been fantastic you can’t rate yourself much if you think it will be difficult to oust a player who has performed at your level for less than 10% of the games you’ve done it.

Of course that is just conjecture as Schneiderlin hasn’t asked for such assurances – or at least not publicly – but is an assumed reason for his admirers as to why he has not donned the famous Arsenal red and white yet.

I am a huge fan of Olivier Giroud, I think he is the perfect striker for the system we play and the players we have to surround him, and I am hugely grateful that we have Danny Welbeck too who I think can be moulded into a high scoring version of Giroud – a Walcott/Giroud hybrid if you will. Sanogo I believe has similar potential but erring more towards the Giroud end of the spectrum. Akpom too has a bright future and hopefully it will be at Arsenal.

I’m quite satisfied with our striking options as I think a settled and fit squad makes for a devastating and flexible attack but that does not mean I would spurn the opportunity to sign another top striker.

Say for example our targets are Morata and Cavani and Cavani asks for assurances – I would prefer we signed Morata on the simple basis I believe he would work harder.

Granted, it’s a generalisation and quite a simplistic one at that as different players have different reasons for wanting guarantees such as summer tournaments but I feel that there is always an underlying theme of not wanting to go to the effort to move obstacles.

I want players who earn their way into the team irrespective of who they are. That is why I like the Gabriel signing so much. He was playing regularly for Villarreal and chose to come to Arsenal knowing full well he would have to earn his place. Welbeck too. He left United’s bench with no guarantee beyond Giroud’s injury that he would be a regular but still he came. I like players who show fight – not the putting yourself about like a headless Scott Parker for the benefit of old-fashioned supporters who only rate players who run 8km per game because anything less makes you sh!t and lazy *ahem Özil* kind of fight – and determination to win their spot.

We want players who are better than what we already have and if someone wants a guaranteed spot they can’t believe themselves to be better and who wants that kind of defeatism in our dressing room?

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