Arteta on Edu, Balogun and the Academy + why we need to learn lessons

A quick look at Saturday for you, and there’s a very interesting interview with Mikel Arteta on Sky Sports which provides the meat for the most part. Worth the detour.

He talks a lot about the club’s young players, especially Bukayo Saka (‘B’), Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun. On the latter, whose new deal has yet to be announced (although the fact that he speaks so openly about his future strongly suggests that everything is done), he credits Edu with turning a situation around that was definitely going in the wrong direction of an Arsenal. point of view.

Arteta says:

“In all aspects he [Balogun] knows that we trust him and that we want to have a future together.

“Then we had to connect with the people at the club, with the good support from Per and the academy, and with the work Edu did over the months to undo what was going on and the direction that was going. the situation.

“He completely turned that into a position where the player is now going to stay with us.”

I think it’s perfectly reasonable that people have doubts about how Arteta and Edu are going to work together, especially in the transfer market / team building aspects. A manager for the first time with a technical director for the first time (I know he had experience with the Corinthians), and there were decisions that weren’t so smart, like three years for Willian. To be fair, this happened when Raul Sanllehi was in charge of football. He was fired the next day Willian put pen to paper, but Arteta and Edu should have had enough intelligence / authority to know it was a good deal for the player but bad for the club.

Since then, some interesting things have unfolded. Martin Odegaard’s January loan signing was an exceptional deal in a tough window, and Balogun’s thing – although he’s still far from being a first-team regular – is also positive. Especially since it looks like what the Academy produces will be increasingly important to us in the years to come, when finances are strained after the pandemic and, potentially, without European football for at least a season.

On this, Arteta opened up about his relationship with Per Mertesacker, who joined at the same time that fateful summer of 2011:

“We have the same goal and the same vision for the club. We are very close and we hope we can do a lot of good things together.

And then using what we have at our disposal from the inside:

“For me, if we want to strengthen our position and we have to recruit someone, we have to look in our academy first. It’s part of the club’s DNA and we have to do it.

“If we have this product in our club, let’s bring it in. But he has to have the right qualities, the right mindset and the right character to do it. Otherwise, we have to go and try to find it.

“We are lucky. We have some really good players coming up, but we need more and to do that we have to keep investing in our academy, to have the right coaches. I think Per is doing a fantastic job. . Let’s continue to feed the first team as much as possible. “

As for what else we need to see from Arteta and Edu, not doing the same things this club has been wrong for years would be another good development. It means making decisions about the players at the right time. When Arteta talks about Alexandre Lacazette’s recent performances and how he is the glue of the team, it makes you think that a new deal might be in sight. But if we are really learning one of the lessons we have been taught in the very recent past is that new contracts for players 30 and over are inherently risky, we have been bitten more than once these lately, and ultimately we have to extract value from our players.

I think it’s great that Lacazette scores goals because it’s good for the team. It’s also good for its transfer value. We paid 50 million euros for him. We won’t come close this summer, but we have to make sure we get something. Sinking the resources of a new deal and big salaries (because players this age are watching their last big payday), and ultimately a free transfer for a player nearly 30 doesn’t make sense in the long run. run, even if you could. a case for its usefulness as a squad option.

Tim has written a great column on everything Arteta and Edu need to do this summer, and I think there’s more to it than just the things he’s talking about, but making sure we’re generating income from the players rather than to let them go for free – or to put us in a position where at some point we’re literally paying them to go – is really a big part of it. The level of talent that we’ve let go for nothing over the past few years has been amazing and also terrible, and at a time when every penny counts, it’s not something we can agree to start over.

(Alexis, £ 0. Ramsey, £ 0. Wilshere, £ 0. Welbeck, £ 0. Ozil, £ 0. Mustafi, £ 0. Sokratis, £ 0. Mkhitaryan, £ 1 million. Etc etc.).

Either way, with the likes of Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli already making an impact, and with a really interesting crop of young players just below them, it’s going to be very interesting to see who gets the rating. in a close future. Saka and Smith Rowe in particular have probably saved us a lot in the transfer market – and what Arteta and Edu are up to this summer, since they’ll be in the driver’s seat, will tell us a lot about what’s to come.

Fulham seen tomorrow, meanwhile have a nice Saturday.

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