A solid piece of business, done early, and without the delay caused by Arsenal’s penny pinchers quibbling for a few thousand quid off the asking price – who’d have thought it?
The club announcing that the deal to sign Granit Xhaka had been completed came as a surprise to no-one, especially as leaked pictures had emerged of the Swiss in full kit almost a week earlier, but it was very welcome nonetheless.
There can’t have been many occasions in the Arsene Wenger era when a deal of this size and potential difficulty was wrapped up so soon, particularly when there is the added distraction of a European Championships this summer.
But done it is. Signed, sealed, and well and truly leaked, with the transfer window not even having opened.
This is an excellent start and exactly what was needed. I expect Arsene will already have his list of targets and have been watching them carefully over the course of the season so what’s important now is that he keeps the ball rolling.
What has irked fans in years gone by is the waft of last-minute panic-buying that has hung around the Emirates every August. Weeks and months have gone by with no hint of transfer movement and the repetitively bland platitudes of Arsene about ‘waiting for the right opportunity’.
This is the very antithesis of all that hand-wringing and procrastinating. It’s getting the business done good and early and allowing the new signings the time to get into shape and get used to the Arsenal way of life.
If Arsene can get a central defender and a striker of serious calibre into the club by the end of June (I know, I know) it will really lift the mood around the place. Who knows, it may even get a few fans back on side, a few bums back on seats, and a bit of optimism buzzing around the stands.
I do wonder if the nature of this deal, and the speed with which it was completed, had something to do with the ill feeling that was swirling around at the back end of last season.
Was Arsene planning on completing this deal before the Euros anyway, or was he motivated to act sooner because of the obvious malcontent among fans?
Perhaps the man himself will be moved to speak on it when next he faces the press, or perhaps we will never know. Either way, it’s a piece of good news.
While most of our traditional rivals are either sacking managers or changing managers, we have taken advantage of the stability of our setup to get in and strike the first blow. Here’s hoping we can ramp up the pressure that little bit more in the weeks ahead.
As to the man himself, Granit Xhaka comes with pedigree. Captain at age 23 in the Bundesliga, he inspired his side Borussia Monchengladbach to a Champions League place last season. He is also a Swiss international with 30 caps to his name.
For me, £25-£30million is a lot of money for a central midfielder who doesn’t specialise in scoring goals or making them, but Arsene has proven himself a canny operator over the years and he must believe a price in that region represents value. I’m prepared to wait and see with this one.
In his first interview with the club’s media team, the Swiss spoke of his desire to get started and get stuck in, saying: “I like to play football. I’m an aggressive player and also a leader. I’m only 23 but I captained a good team in Germany”.
If he could stick the boot in on Diego Costa on debut, I’d be a very happy man.