What Marouane Fellaini's snub means for Arsenal
How the mighty have fallen. There was once a time when Arsenal [and Arsene Wenger] could look in the direction of a player and he’d come running. Now the third-best team in London are being rejected on a daily basis by, let’s face it, average players.
The latest is Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, a player that divides opinions across the country. The Belgian was reportedly looking to leave Old Trafford despite Jose Mourinho doing all he could to convince him to stay. In the end, Fellaini rejected Arsenal and signed a new United contract.
What does this latest snub mean for Arsenal?
So far this summer, the Gunners have had a busy window. Four players signed in quick succession. Unai Emery and Sven Mislintat have compiled a long list of players and worked towards signing them. Fellaini was on that list. Apparently, it wasn't by choice.
The new Arsenal manager is allegedly a long-time admirer of the 30-year-old. The Spaniard tried to sign the Belgian in January, while still at Paris Saint-Germain. Two weeks after taking over for Arsene Wenger, it’s said Emery personally reached out to the midfielder.
Fellaini effectually used Arsenal as a bargaining tool to increase his wages at United. He was previously on £80,000-a-week. His new bumper deal is speculated to be over £100,000-a-week.
Many Arsenal fans believe Fellaini wouldn’t improve their midfield. It's that he turned them down that smarts. Sadly, it’s a sign of the times. Arsenal are a club that will be out of the UEFA Champions League for two consecutive seasons. They’re no longer title rivals. Neither are they even top four contenders. Whether or not fans are willing to admit it, the Gunners are no longer an attractive proposition to players across Europe, let alone those in Manchester.
None of the signings Emery has made to date can be called a coup. Stephan Lichtsteiner was a free agent that Juventus no longer wanted/needed. Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a 29-year-old centre-back who’s used Arsenal to secure his last major cheque. Bernd Leno is a keeper that Bayern Leverkusen were happy to see the back of and Lucas Torreira is a central midfielder who doesn’t start for an Uruguay team that possesses no known midfielders. On top of that, no other big side was in on the 22-year-old. What does that say?
Fellaini started five Premier League games last season. That he wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to be a starter at the Emirates testifies to Emery’s lack of pull. At the start of the window, it was believed several Paris Saint-Germain players would follow their former boss to London. None have. Why? Because he’s not a respected coach in today’s game.
That’s not to say the 46-year-old can’t work magic with Arsenal’s current squad, but if he was relying on adding world-class quality to the squad, he was mistaken. Even his transfer exiles have not made sense. It’s strange to think that Unai Emery told Jack Wilshere he wouldn’t be afforded much playing time this season whilst simultaneously chasing Marouane Fellaini? I hope that’s not a sign of things to come.