If this season has taught us anything as Arsenal fans it’s that there is always a way back in football.
In fact, this campaign has been so stuffed with remarkable redemption arcs, you’d be laughed out of the TV studios if you tried to pitch it as a script.
Take Mohamed Elneny, for example, a man who has recovered from the bowels of the Turkish Super Lig to become a much valued and reliable squad member under Mikel Arteta. Sure, he isn’t going to win us the Champions League but his effort, commitment and dedication – as well as a willingness to play a supporting role without a hint of fuss – are invaluable.
And what of Nicolas Pepe? Granit Xhaka? Alex Lacazette? maybe even Willian? At various times all of these players have been dismissed and seemed destined for the nearest exit but, with time and patience, all have become valued members of this squad. Ok, Willian has a hell of a lot more to prove but who would have thought there was any hope for him just a few months ago?
All of this is to say that, however bleak things may seem for any player, there is almost always a way back, and I think the same still applies to Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira.
I expect this summer to be a busy one for Arteta and Edu as they continue their efforts to overhaul the squad but I don’t expect every problem can be solved in the transfer market, not least because of our own financial constraints. In an ideal world, most of our budget would be funneled into purchasing Martin Odegaard but there is no guarantee Real Madrid would want to part with a player who is destined for a bright future in the game, however pressing their financial issues.
And it may be the case thay moving on a number of players surplus to our own requirements will prove difficult. Shalke will probably not have the funds to make Sead Kolasinac’s deal permanent, Alex Lacazette may prefer to see out the final year of his deal on good money over a move abroad, and clubs may simply not have the funds available to pay the premium for players like Reiss Nelson or Eddie Nketiah.
To that end, there is still much to be decided and, until the European Championships end, we may not have a clear picture as to what the club can do, who we can acquire and who we can sell.
So is it possible that both Guendouzi and Torreira come back to London Colney in the summer and, much like Elneny, suddenly find themselves a part of our plans for next season? Absolutely. Nothing is certain in football and nothing is forever. Minds can be changes, attitudes can be improved, doubters can be won round. Both players are still young and both are talented so there is still reason to be optimistic.
If money is indeed tight and there is little prospect of moving peripheral players on for the sort of money we might like, it would be wise to make use of the tools we have and both the Uruguayan and Frenchman are versatile and willing.
Edu and Arteta made a good start to the rebuild in January with some prudent loans and amicable agreements. If they can continue in that vein again in the summer, so much the better for the club but, ironically, the best pieces of business might be right under their noses.