Aside from the usual flood of unsourced and wild speculation there is not too much concrete news to comment on. Unless you count the tale of the experienced club captain who extended his contract, and the inexperienced little boy who caused his greater self to crash and burn spectacularly.
Arsene today confirmed yesterday’s reports that Mikel Arteta had accepted a one year extension to his contract. That has got some excited in the world of social media. It makes perfect sense to this observer. Mikel is preparing for his future and has already started work on his coaching badges with the clubs youngest talent at the Hale End Academy. He is the captain and undoubtedly a respected leader in the squad. Arsene Wenger acknowledged he has slipped down the pecking order right now, but highlighted what the Spaniard brings to the squad.
“I expect him to contribute much more than last season but he also faces a battle. With the number of games we have ahead, we could use his experience, his desire and his quality as it will be vital for next season.”
The unexpected rise of Francis Coquelin in the second half of the season came as a pleasant surprise to everybody, including his colleagues as many have acknowledged. Mikel, ravaged by injuries last season, spent his most productive years in a more advanced role, but almost Mclintock-like has extended his career by dropping into a deeper-lying role. Frank went into the back four and mopped up everything that Peter Simpson didn’t take out in our first double team. Mikel, too short to play as a central defender, has made the switch to a deep-lying midfielder who uses his experience to nullify threats, and his vision for a forward pass remains to the fore.
If a quality option becomes viable during the window then expect a deal to be done and Mikel to slip one place further from a guaranteed start. He would expect, and accept, that.
What a shame we didn’t sign him a year or three earlier, when his attacking instincts could have made some uncomfortable years far more bearable.
On the other side of the coin I am reading tonight a report that the much-rumoured offloading of Robin van Stapleton from Manchester United to Fenerbahce is close. Normally I wouldn’t be inclined to comment on the move of a former player but in this instance I cannot help but smile. Who can forget…
“As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the Boss and Mr. Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy… unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward… You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision.”
Three years have passed since the parting of the striker who had one stellar season with us after we had supported him through the seven preceding seasons of unfulfilled promise, injuries and accusations. Signing for United he revealed another reason for turning his back on the club that had stood by him.
“I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations, when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United.”
There too he experienced one accomplished season. Yes, he won a Premiership medal. Two seasons of injuries and, I’ll enjoy this bit, mediocrity later he has been peddled around (forgive me Turkey) the lesser lights of Europe.
Meanwhile the captain who contributed to two FA Cup triumphs, once van Stapleton had gone to be replaced by a team player, is signing on for another year. Potentially a very big year. We may make that leap, or we may fall just short, but know that this season only one out of Arsenal Football Club and Robin van Stapleton will be contesting the truly big prizes.