Two players. Liverpool have already signed two players. to our one. What’s more, they seemingly did it immediately, without any fuss or bother. They got Alex Mac Allister for the measly little fee of £35m and Dominik Szoboszlai for £60m, each in a matter of days without any resistance or foot-dragging from either Brighton or RB Leipzig. Meanwhile, it took us weeks to pry Havertz away from desperate-to-sell Chelsea for £62m and are apparently no closer to signing Rice away from West Ham despite months and months of pointless nickel-and-diming. What gives?
The only possible explanation is, of course, the complete and utter ineptitude of Mikel “trust the process” Arteta and Edu at the BBQ. What other Earthly reason could explain why we paid £62m for a flop who only scored nine Prem goals last season? Talk about having your pants pulled down. We don’t even know what position he’ll play. Is he a six, an eight, a ten a false nine, an inverted trequartista? Who even knows? Oh, and speaking of ineptitude, we just handed Chelsea a major lifeline to avoid any FFP consequences. Congratulations, Chelsea.
On to Rice. This never-ending Zeno’s Paradox of a transfer saga that started umpteen months ago still shows no sign of approaching never mind crossing the finish line. First we bid £80. Then there was the “embarrassing” £75m plus £15m in add-ons. Then Man City came in, and we bid £105m. Still, Rice dangles just out of a reach like so much Tantalusian fruit or Sword of Damocles. Choose your own particular…idiom. West Ham have turned us down more times than I’ve turned down YouTube’s free trial. This pursuit of Rice is almost shambolic of my pursuit of various romantic targets down the years. At the rate we’re going, we’ll be taking a 33-year old Rice off of West Ham’s hands, adding to an ever-lengthening list of former Chelsea players who extend their careers by switching to Arsenal.
It’s getting ridiculous. Eveen Chelsea have moved faster than we’re moving, signing Christopher Nkunku for a £52m fee, again, like Liverpool, without any fuss or footdragging or low-ball bids. What gives? Why can’t we complete our transfers with the speed, the efficiency, the alacrity of these two clubs that can’t even offer Champions League football?
It’s a joke. A colossal joke.
By which I mean, this entire post. This entire post is a joke. Liverpool got Mac Allister and Szoboszlai, and Chelsea got Nkunku, because they met each player’s release clause. If a club meets a player’s release clause, of course, they bypass the need to negotiate with the player’s current club. Each player had a relatively modest release clause, possibly because they weren’t rated very highly at the time they signed their current contracts. By contrast, Declan Rice has no release clause, and this forces us to enter into these difficult, drawn-out negotiations. If West Ham don’t want to sell him, they don’t have to. They run the risk of losing him for nothing next summer, but it’s a risk they may be willing to run.
If anyone out there is complaining about or criticising Arsenal for a perceived lack of movement on Declan Rice’s transfer, comparing our apparent torpor to Liverpool’s “determination”, just mention those release clauses. If they still don’t get it, well, that tells you all you need to know.
I think we’ll still get Rice. The process is just a bit more…involved. Trust it all the same.