the club’s summer transfer business is concluded. Even then it might not be fully clear, although Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez remain within their sights, sort of.
Remember this one? It was a story broken by Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail, someone very clued in with Arsenal and not known for regular fabrication or dramatization.
As the club push through with a big money move for Ben White, with links to James Maddison also emerging, how could they possibly be prepared to fund a deal for either of the Manchester City forwards, the Englishman in particular earning close to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sized wages?
The reports haven’t died down despite their outlandish context, with Dean Jones of Eurosport adding fuel to these crazy fires by revealing that Arsenal are enquiring over the pair as they explore ways to bolster their forward line next season.
ALL LOVE #BoyFromBrent pic.twitter.com/dFuVw3swE1
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) June 18, 2021
Arsenal persist with stunning Raheem Sterling & Riyad Mahrez transfers from Manchester City as Gunners gauge pulling power in summer window
Their approaches coincide with City launching a mega-money bid to sign Harry Kane, with reports being that Sterling and Mahrez could be used as a makeweights to Tottenham in order to land the England captain.
Well, yes and no, because Arsenal aren’t thought to have any real confidence in signing either. This is two players who just won the Premier League title and are regularly contesting in the Champions League, trying to be convinced of joining a side undergoing a significant transitional period with no European football next season. As is always said: ‘why would they downgrade’?
What Arsenal are doing is different. Their approach to Man City is being done to gauge what calibre of player they can still attract this summer despite their unappealing predicament.
It’s a show of ambition, one that while admirable, is aimed at two players who don’t not want to leave the reigning champions and European Cup runners-up for a side managed by their former assistant boss. There is previous there, with Mikel Arteta’s time at the Etihad credited with being influential in developing the wide players at the club, Sterling in particular, but not enough to lure players south.
Eurosport add that those linked in previous weeks – Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Yves Bissouma, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ruben Neves, James Maddison and Andre Silva – are names of genuine interest at a stage where Arsenal’s pulling power without European football is being tested.
But what do the pursuits of these two say about Arsenal and how much money they do have to spend?
What Raheem Sterling & Riyad Mahrez Moves Mean for Arsenal
These may be shows of ‘ambition’ from Arsenal but for the latter in particular, what happens if he says yes? What if Manchester City turn around and say £60m will do and the Algerian fancies moving to north London? Do they persist?
Mahrez, as world class as he can be on his day, would be a ridiculous signing: he’s 30 years old now and will cost a fortune, needing a long-term contract on big wages. He’s a brilliant footballer whose arrival would end Nicolas Pepe’s Arsenal career as we know it and risks limiting Bukayo Saka’s playing time.
It’s a deal that makes no sense. As for Sterling, being younger there is more credibility behind a move for him but it would constitute another huge outlay in the areas Arsenal have more strength than anywhere else. Another odd one.
Explaining #MCFC’s move for #THFC + #ENG’s Harry Kane:
Jesus, Silva, Sterling, Laporte + Mahrez offered as potential makeweights
Man City would pay £100m – only £150m would make Spurs think
Levy resolute he won’t sell, focused on getting manager search back on track
— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) June 22, 2021
Therefore, if it’s purely muscle flexing and testing the waters to see how inviting of a proposition Arsenal are, it would be better off using that energy on players the club actually needs. If it’s nothing more than inquiries as stated, then so be it. If they want to see whether these two players fancy the idea of joining Arsenal, OK.
Whether it is that or not, there could be other ideas in play, such as demonstrating how much money they have. As Jones puts it:
“It backs up claims from some insiders around the club that Arsenal could invest heavily in this summer window.”
Don’t show your hand. If you do have more money than everyone else believes you do, don’t advertise that across the continent or to the biggest clubs in England, those who you’re specifically trying to see if you can rival in the market.