him all that hard. Higuain to Napoli? At least they finished 2nd in Serie A. But to lose out on Gustavo to 11th-place Wolfsburg is, well, embarrassing. Say what you will about the difficulties of changing countries and leagues. The fact that we couldn’t sell a player on the virtues of playing in the Premier League, in the Champions League, for Arsenal, is damning. I can grudgingly accept being outspent by bigger, wealthier clubs that are bankrolled by sleazy tycoons, and even if Wolfsburg are similarly supported from outside, what happened to all of that talk of our ambitions and our war-chest? I’m despondent. Lost. Crushed. And more. And it’s not even that Gustavo was likely to be a huge, transformative signing. Maybe he would. He was valued at something under £20m, so we might have broken our transfer-fee record, but not in any dramatic fashion.
Instead, I’m hung up on the symbolism of it. Our ineptitude is truly staggering. Even as I remind myself that it’s possible that Arsène is playing some larger game, securing some massive signing so secretive that no one even knows about it, and these rumors are just concocted to throw everyone off the trail, I’m struggling to believe myself. Even my vaunted Wenger’s Law offers little but cold comfort at this point. What’s left? Are we to summon man-servant Bendtner from the Pit of Ultimate Darkness? We may just have to.
Arsène has painted himself into a corner through his inability to seal the deal, and having missed out on Gustavo is one more brush-stroke, and a big one at that. He may just have to do something dramatic, if not for strategically addressing this squad’s needs, then for proving that he’s serious about contending for silverware. I’ve long resisted the idea that we need to prove anything to anyone through the symbolism of a huge signing, but the transfer-window closes in barely more than two weeks and it may take more than a few shrewd, cost-effective signings to allay fans’ fears and, yes, anger. I alluded yesterday to torches and pitch-forks. I wonder if effigies are being considered next.
I need some good news. We go into tomorrow’s match against Aston Villa without any new signings; Sanogo’s hamstring injury likely keeps him out of action, and there’s no one to whom we’re realistically linked as far as I can tell. The only solace I can find, such as it is, is the fact that we’ll have actual football to watch in 24 hours. It can’t arrive soon enough.