Au revoir, Ainsley. He’s off to Lyon. Who’s next: Turner? Pépé?


While we’re still basking in the glow of a glorious, scintillating, season-defining Community Shield victory over Man City, we’re finally starting to unload some deadwood, with news that Ainsley Maitland-Niles has joined Olympique Lyonnais on a free transfer, so we haven’t exactly gotten better at selling players…yet. The Birdman rejoins Lacazette (who also left on a free transfer) and Jeff Reine-Adélaïde. Let’s hope this gives the lad a chance to spread his wings and teachers us to, you know, sell players instead of setting them free (I understand that I missed a chance at extending the bird/freedom metaphor, so don’t bother pointing it out).

Maitland-Niles’s career just never kicked on here beyond the “Birdman” memes and the languid, insouciant approach he took to playing. His desire to play in central midfield never quite meshed with Arteta’s preference to play as a winger or wingback. It had to ruffle his feathers (ha) to see other Hale End boys like Saka, Smith Rowe, Willock, Iwobi, Nelson and even Nketiah find their varying degrees of success while he struggled to take flight. A fresh start at a new club might reinvigorate his spirits and give him a chance to prove us wrong for doubting him.

His departure does whet the appetite for actual transfers out that involve us receiving actual money if not profits. The liveliest rumours swirl around Matt Turner, who looks like he’s moving closer and closer to joining Nottingham Forest. Maybe we should drag our heels a bit so that he’s not available to face us in that first match? None would appreciate the irony of his turning into a Leno-esque shot stopper or Martinezian (?) shit-houser against us. More seriously, the news seems largely positive because it looks like the reported fee is in the area of £10m plus add-ons (after spending just £5m to sign him). That’s hardly a rate of return on Anelka’s level, but it’s tidy business all the same. The move strongly suggests that we’ll complete the signing of David Raya, and it sounds like we’ll get him for quite a bit less than Brentford’s £40m valuation. We’ll have to keep an eye on those developments.

Last but certainly not least, we could very well part ways with one of the last true albatrosses of the pre-Arteta era: Nicolas Pépé. Foisted on the club and on Emery by Raul Sannlehi for that ungodly £72m fee and £140k weekly salary, he never fit in with either Emery (who wanted Zaha instead) or Arteta. He reminds me a bit of Walcott albeit a better dribbler—he could be lethal for a side that plays more counter-attacking football, one where he could either run into space behind a high line or be given space to beat his man off the dribble. Anyway, as the rumour-mill has it, Arsenal are set to cancel his contract to allow him to sign with Beşiktaş. If we’re seriously going to give him a year’s salary just to facilitate his departure, we either have more money than we know what to do with or not enough savvy to do well with that money.

Just here are the Saudis when we really need them, anyway? They’ve been hoovering up players like kind of large, faceless sucking machine that scares the housepets, but they can’t be bothered to buy Pépé?

However that one turns out, I do hope that each player finds happier hunting grounds at his respective new club. After all, they’ve had their moments and seemed like decent lads but just not good enough for our current ambitions. I just hope that this isn’t the end of our outgoing business…

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4 thoughts on “Au revoir, Ainsley. He’s off to Lyon. Who’s next: Turner? Pépé?

  1. Derrick

    I’m as eager as anyone to see Pepe off the books. There’s a good player in there but not at our level. If we’re cancelling his contract instead of selling him outright to the Saudis, we’re really getting bent over. We owe him something £7m for 2023-24. Why not loan him to Besiktas for this last year, get them to pay something like half his wages and then let him leave on a free? We can at least recoup something from this boondoggle.

    Oh yeah, f*ck Sannlehi.

  2. palladio43

    I wrote earlier today that we seem incapable of selling who we do not want or need as we are of buying what who need or want. I suppose even on a free, we shed some salary and reduce the squad size. Raya in lieu of Turner also seems smart, not only as primary or back-up GK, but for getting another home-grown player (apparently he qualifies). I suspect we will pay at least 30M and I doubt we will get 10M for Turner, if only because nobody else seems interested and unless you choose not to sell, e,g, Spurs with Kane – maybe, or a few others, Arsenal may have to accept what is offered.
    There has always been a problem for every club. Do you sell first and have the cash, but then, with your needs exposed to everyone, are forced to pay over the true market price unless for someone nobody else wants? Do you buy first and get the prime meat, vegetables, fruit, or players, but then find yourself low on cash and still holding last week’s outdated milk or vegetables, let alone players who may be tainted due to their petulance (Balogun) and, possible lack of overall talent, poor track record (Pepe), or age.
    Now we seem to have the US cavalry, Bengal lancers or French foreign legion in the form of the Saudi League available as a last or first resort, but only for the “best” or, in fact, the fading and aging “best” , much like MSL in Miami, NYC, and LA. But even they may be getting a bit shrewder (something I would have expected long ago from those experienced in haggling in the souks over every bit of merchandise and even counting and inspecting teeth of the camels (did they do that for Ronaldo, et al and did Miami fail to do so for Messi?). I believe they have a different transfer window and may now be content to wait for the fire sales and discounts that are only a few weeks away.
    Meanwhile do we still need someone to back up Jesus or even supplant him given his injury record?

  3. A Simple Truth

    simply put, we’re atrocious when it comes to most things asset management-related…this longstanding narrative has to change if we want to be considered among the very best in the years to come


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