A little while back I wrote a piece about how the Arsenal Youth team can be seen as a little bit of a cash cow in terms of the way the club is run, in that we bring in players, loan them out to get experience and then if they don’t make the grade, we still generate cash from their sale for normally the low millions.
So as the club announced the loan deal of Wellington Silva to Bolton for the season, just before he signed a new deal with the club, I couldn’t help but think that the winger is the latest of a line of players who will be straight off the production line and in to another team on a permanent basis.
Is there anybody who believes he’s truly going to make it? Last night somebody questioned me on this, citing Coquelin as a clear example as to why you shouldn’t give up and if you’re not an Arsenal fan, you might also point to Kane and Mason over there in Spudland. Whilst I agree that these case studies provide plenty of motivation for the Brazillian to succeed, I think his story is probably more fraught with obstacles than the above mentioned players have had.
Let’s take Coquelin as an example. He is 24 and has only just broken in to the first team. Wellington is 22 so the argument is valid that he can still do it. But Coquelin has had to overcome an ageing duo in Arteta and Flamini in a position in the team that realistically hasn’t been properly resourced since Flamini first left the club for Milan in 2008. Contrast that to Wellington, who is a winger, who would need to disperse any of the following to break in to the first team: Walcott, The Ox, Alexis, Ramsey, Welbeck. Potentially also Gnabry too, when he returns from his loan spell at West Brom. All of those players can occupy the wide positions and so whilst Coquelin found himself a regular in the team after a couple of injuries, Wellington would need to see at least four of that six injured for a prolonged period of time, before being given his chance. I can’t see that happening. All of those players are in their mid twenties too, so in three years time they’ll be at their peaks and assuming they’re all still at the club, his situation probably wouldn’t have got any easier and he’d be in his mid twenties still as a squad player.
There have also been questions about his attitude too from former coaches. I haven’t read too much in to it, so it would be wrong of me to pass any real judgement at this stage, but it does make one wonder if he’ll be cut out for the unwavering dedication of the Premier League and top flight football in general. Think Carlos Vela and his Mexican parties.
Still, this move worked wonders for Jack Wilshere, so perhaps Wellington can use it as a springboard to show the manager not to lose faith in him.
The same probably can’t be said for Joel Campbell, who seems to be on his way to Palermo, if the stories are true. After the clamouring for him to be given more game time last season, it looks as if Arsène probably hasn’t got any plans to integrate him more frequently into the starting XI, which means it’s probably in everyone’s interest to give him a new ‘project’ to try and make the most of his career. Again, he’s a winger in an area of the park in which we’re pretty strong, something you can all see with the fact that we’re not even remotely linked with Pedro. This is a player with whom plenty of Arsenal fans would have been desperate for two years ago, but now doesn’t even enter the thoughts of us as a collective of fans. We don’t need him. Unfortunately for Joel it looks as though we don’t need him either.
But that’s ok. It’s better to be in a position where we’re turning away decent players (I base that on the fact that he’s performed well for Olympiakos and has had a couple of half decent cameos for us as a sub), because they’re not brilliant players. We wanted for so long to dine at the top table, so now that we are we don’t need to munch on the ordinary loaf, we want proper posh artisan bread. Served on a slate with butter and a separate sprinkling of salt so you can choose how salted you need it.
We have a good squad. The players keep telling us it, with Mikel Arteta the latest to talk up the team, which means the result is that there will be plenty of players that don’t make it. Campbell and Wellington might be two of those, but as long as those that remain are capable of delivering silverware, then I’ll not mind too much.
It does seem as though this squad is a bit more unified than before. Perhaps what Arsène has always wanted, which is to build a team that grow together and are not disrupted by other clubs looking to break them up by signing the stars of the team, has finally come to pass? That’s why we’re not seeing a wad of signings, because he has his core and he wants them to feel tied to one another. He wants them to create a legacy of their own and maybe – famous last words I know – they will all want to bile that legacy together?
We will find out over the duration of this season. I hope we get that come May.