Slow news day today (the same transfer news just keeps being regurgitated), but one thing that I did find interesting is that Arsenal are going to be playing the Nigerian national team in a friendly match on August 5th as part of the clubs pre-season training.
I was particularly amazed to discover that Arsenal last visited the continent on a pre-season tour of South Africa in July 1993. Arsène Wenger has clearly decided to completely ignore his old philosophy of not travelling too far during pre-season, with the team also scheduled to return to China and Malaysia (which they visited last year). It is not unlikely that there is somebody at Arsenal who suggested that the club may want to make the most of their fan-base on other continents; being a team with a huge international fan-base hasn’t exactly done Manchester United any harm. The purchase of Park Chu Young last summer did not seem to me to be much more than a crude way of enhancing our global reputation.
The transfer news today has been particularly frustrating. The big question I have is why are Arsenal being constantly linked with more strikers when we have already signed Podolski and Giroud? There is absolutely no way that we would sign another forward. A central midfielder or a defender (probably a full back) are infinitely more likely. The big rumour on Twitter is that Wenger is looking at Thiago Alcantara, although there is absolutely no way that Barca would let their prised midfielder leave. Alcantara played 45 games for Barcelona last season and is considered one of their hottest prospects.
The last thing that I want to talk about is an interview with Olivier Giroud published in L’Équipe in which our new signing explains why he chose to play for Arsenal over Chelsea. The deciding factor seems to be our manager and his history with French players in the Premier League, although Olivier also suspected that Di Matteo did not know much about him.
“Why did I choose Arsenal rather than Chelsea? Because it is a club I love. And I thought it would be easier for my adaptation [to English football].
“Arsenal is a great club, the facilities are wonderful, but I feel it is a club that takes big care before signing a player, notably considering human values.
“There are French players. There is also Arsene Wenger who let me understand he really wanted me.
“Laurent Koscielny talked to me a lot about the club and sang the praises of Arsenal. It is really great to meet him again after sharing moments together in Ligue 2 at Tours.
“Chelsea is very nice, it is a great club, but I am not convinced Di Matteo knows who I am.”