Wayne Rooney in an interview a few years ago was quoted as saying, “I’ve said it before, I’m a good enough footballer to play anywhere on the pitch. That’s not being big headed. I feel I’m capable of doing that”.
The fact he can play as a “false nine”, out wide on the right (or left) through the middle or even as a creative midfielder makes him seen by many as the ideal signing for Arsenal.
Yet, even with a war chest of a reported £70 million the trail at Arsenal has gone cold and the signing doesn’t look like it’ll happen. Not by Arsenal at any rate.
I for one am pleased about that.
Don’t get me wrong, if you were talking about the Rooney of a few years ago, the one who thrilled the country through his dynamic introduction at the European Championships of 2004 then I would be dancing in the Holloway Road with the rest of you.
Or the Wayne Rooney who burst through and amazed the Premiership and wider watching world with his all-action fearless style, fearsome technique and unrivalled skill (for an Englishman) I would have loved to have playing at The Arsenal. Throw his verve, flair and audacity into the mix and I would be all for it.
But if you are talking about the Wayne Rooney of 2013 - Rooney 2.0 if you like, then the answer has to be a resounding no.
According to many in the know he has lost his love of the game, he has lost that hunger that made him, according to David Moyes (before he sued him for libel regarding one of his books) one of the last “street footballers”. His performances trailed off last season and his attitude was surly. The fact he practically snubbed Sir Alex Ferguson on the podium when receiving his Premiership winners medal after the Swansea game at Old Trafford said it all.
If he’s prepared to do that, on top of the fact he is a fading force at the top level in England, how can you say that he would improve team spirit at the Gunners when they used every ounce of that elusive state of mind to drag themselves over the line to finish in the top four? The fact they beat an over-confident THFC to fourth place leaving them demoralised and unsure of Bale’s future was a bonus.
The silence emanating from “well-placed sources” on Rooney to Arsenal is also conspicuous by its absence. If by definition a £70 million war chest allows a club to pay £200,000 a week and a £20 million fee (plus a considerable signing on fee) then the lack of chatter either confirming or denying the story is illuminating.
Even dear old Ivan hasn’t said he wants this to happen.
Yet one signing that is interesting the club and the fans alike is Gonzalo Higuain.
Like his father, also a pro footballer, Gonzalo Higuain is known as El Pipita. Translated it means small pipe. Like many sports nicknames the literal sense has long been lost, and in this case it refers more to the size of his father’s rather large nose than any predilection for smoking.
The moniker is incongruous. Inhaling tobacco through a pipe is associated with contemplation and inactivity. El Pipita junior however, is more known for his dynamism, his turn of pace and his deadly finishing in front of goal. Although only 25, Higuain has already scored 107 goals in only 187 appearances for Real Madrid and an eye catching 20 in 32 for Argentina (with 9 assists). His goalscoring rate in Spain is even more impressive considering the upheaval that is always present at the soap opera that is Bernabeau politics. Throw in the unique tumult the Special One, the Happy One or whatever he calls himself these days adds to the mix and you can see there is little that fazes this forward – on or of the pitch.
To say he would be an ideal signing for Arsenal is obvious. To say that Arsenal Football Club can actually afford someone of his talent is something new. When Ivan Gazidis mentioned recently that the club had a “war chest” of around £70 million his statement actually excited many hard bitten fans.
Like many of you, I am scornful of official pronouncements. I try and understand why and when something was said. In this case it could be argued the timing was cynical as it came weeks before the Season Ticket ticket renewal date.
Having held a Season Ticket for over three decades and having just forked out £950.23 (where did the 23p come from – they couldn’t even write that off as a tiny gesture could they?) it made no difference to me and my friends along with a lot of other dyed in the wool fans. But I know for a fact that there were many people wavering over forking out such an exorbitant fee during the worst recession since the 1930’s. With that statement in mind who knows how many financially stretched Gooners took the plunge on the back of Gazidis’ grand proclamation. So call me distrustful. The whole thing smacked of blatant PR.
Hands up who also remembers the late Danny Fiszman (god rest his soul) saying as far back as 2007 that “if Arsene came to us and said he wanted a £30 million player we would provide the funds”.
Whatever you think of the board and Wenger there is money coming on tap through various new revenue streams. We have been careful, nay parsimonious to the point of agony in the past, but the fact of the matter is that additional income has been raised that does not have to be diverted to the cost of the stadium. I don’t need my MBA to understand that.
Gonzalo Higuain, only one of three Argentine’s to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Tournament, would be the ideal signing for Arsenal. He is young but has a wealth of experience; he is tough, having been schooled in the robust Argentinian league for River Plate before honing his craft in arguably the most skilful league in the world – and he is also savvy, having lived through the tempestuous Mourinho era at Real. It is said Wenger looks for character as much as technique in players (Park, Stephanovs, Sylvester, Gervinho etc etc etc excepted). If that is the case then Huguain and Arsenal - like the old JVC sign on the Art Deco Stands at Highbury read – is the perfect match.
There even seems to be tangible movement regarding Higuain’s signing for the Arsenal.
It has been reported that the only other interested party, Juventus are refusing to go above £19 million for the Argentine with dual French nationality (his dad played in France for Brest, Gonzalo’s birthplace). Real want £25 million. Arch schemer and Real’s Presidente (the two facts are not mutually exclusive) Florentino Perez has been quoted as saying the Italian’s offer is simply not sufficient. Which leaves Arsenal and their lovingly crafted transfer war chest.
Other factors point to the transfer too. Stevan Jovetic, who had been on the Gunners radar is now being courted by Juventus instead, and has started cooing back in their direction. Most probably to head off Tevez, who it is said Pellegrini wants to move on. Both are genuine options for Juve.
Managerial uncertainty at Real is probably the only thing still keeping Higuain in Madrid at the moment. Once the merry-go-round has been finalised we will know more.
If - and there are still a few huge If’s around – Ancelotti goes from PSG to Madrid then it is likely he will attempt to bring some of his own men on and off the pitch. If Higuain sees that being the case and certain assurances are not met then he is likely to leave. If Juve go for Jovetic (or a cheaper Tevez) then it leaves Arsenal as the only bidder. And if – and it must always be a big if when Arsenal’s and Arsene’s transfer dealing dealings are concerned – the club really does have a £70 million war chest to spend, then Gonzalo Higuain may yet become an Arsenal player by the time pre-season training starts on July 4 or at the very least by the time they embark on their lucrative Asian tours a week later.
Let’s get this straight, Wayne Rooney will not be coming to Arsenal. When push comes to shove Manchester United will not let Rooney leave for a rival, perceived or otherwise, even the 2013, 2.o version, which is a poor facsimile of the 2004 original. And Arsenal will not sign an English player on £200,000 a week. It simply isn’t in Arsenal or Arsene’s DNA to close that particular deal. He still remembers the £2.5 million he spent on Jermaine Pennant.
But don’t bet on El Pipita arriving over the summer….
Follow Layth on twitter @laythy29