Arsenal’s summer seems to be going well, so far.
They even seem to be making sufficient plans should disaster strike and Robin van Persie decides his future lies away from Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners should be doing all they can to retain the services of their inspirational captain, but some kind of contingency plan will have to be put in place.
It not only the squad situation, but the business as a whole appears more energised and proactive, especially compared to the degrading lethargy that riddled the north London club this time last year.
Losing Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri was part of it and detrimentally affected the squad a great deal, fans witnessed the club’s worst start to a season in decades, but it would a surprise to see anything similar happen this time around.
Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud have already been confirmed as new signings and one or two others are expected to follow in the coming weeks of transfer window.
An exodus of sub-standard squad players is also being predicted – Carlos Vela, Sebastien Squillaci, Denilson and Nicklas Bendtner are all expected to depart in once the transfer window opens on Sunday.
Podolski is a vastly experienced Germany international and produced his best figures for a season last year, so his versatility and eye for goal should be a boon for manager Arsene Wenger’s squad.
Olivier Giroud has already stated that he did not join the club to replace Van Persie, but the big Frenchman will surely have been signed with the long-term view of taking over the captain’s role at the point of the Gunners’ attack.
Wenger had always been against pre-season promotional tours, usually hiding away with his squad in the Austrian Alps, but has come to realise the importance of them and has now accepted their necessity if Arsenal are to even try and compete with the far richer clubs around them in the Premier League.
Asia is a no-brainer these days in terms of summer destinations, but trips to Africa are a little more rare and the club’s decision to have a friendly against the Nigerian national team in Abuja on Sunday, August 5 is a shrewd move.
The Premier League fan base in Africa is huge and it makes sense that the club should try and tap into it in some way.
Thinking of this sort will also be behind the newly announced partnership with Airtel, an Indian mobile network operator that is currently used in a number of different countries.
Airtel’s African arm is the partner in the deal with Arsenal and, the club say, will mean the brand will be marketed across the continent.
“The deal provides Airtel with the opportunity to utilise the Club’s merchandising, hospitality and content rights in five markets: Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda and Rwanda,” read a statement on the club’s official website.
“The agreement will help the north London side reach some of its 42million fans across the continent.”
Airtel is the fifth largest telecom operator in the world and this initial partnership with their African division could pave the way to something bigger – the company started in India has access to millions of mobile users across South Asia and Africa.
The lack of a wealthy, generous owner means commercial deals are incredibly important to Arsenal for raising income and chief executive Ivan Gazidis has stated as much in recent times.
Squad concerns are still largely to do with the future of Van Persie, but you would hope this new positive attitude will mean the club does not suffer, whatever last season’s Premier League Golden Boot winner chooses.
The penny seems to have dropped at Arsenal and Wenger could well be building his next great team.
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