"I believe it can be distracting. It is a period when you have to be completely in to be successful. You cannot be half in and a little bit out, or 90 per cent in and a bit out, because that 10 per cent you can miss at an important moment of the game."
- Arsene Wenger, banning talks of transfers to focus our remaining games
I'm surprised by this quote from Wenger. We've had a series of transfer rumours about van Persie, Adebayor and Cesc leaving in the summer. We've had responses from the players and the manager about how they're all focused on this season and the necessity of winning something this season, but I don't think I've read any quote by a player stating that they're definitely staying. And now, not even Wenger's saying that our boys are staying beyond this season.
I'm a bit afraid that, if we don't win anything this year, we're headed for an almighty clear-out. I can't seen van Persie signing a new contract, and I can't see us hanging onto Adebayor. I can see Cesc staying for another year or so out of loyalty to Wenger, but even he'll leave if there's no visible sign of improvement.
It's a bit alarmist because you can't judge intentions through media quotes. No one really knows what's going on in the heads of all these guys, and no one knows what their intentions are. If we win the FA Cup or the Champions League (it's doable), then all this is speculation, and we'll probably hang onto our players. But if we don't, then what happens?
It's a bit frightening for the club because we don't need another clearout. While it'll be nice to add superstars like Eto'o or Silva to the side, what we really need is to keep the bulk of the squad together. Losing talented players like Adeabayor and van Persie will be a blow. The way the Arsenal play requires players who are really familiar with each others' games. And if we need replacements, it'll take us a few seasons to adjust. And we're all a bit sick of transition seasons by now.
But perhaps it's inevitable. Wenger's not saying that these are required players and that there's no chance of them leaving. He's just saying that we're postponing these talks until after the season ends. And once we're knocked out of the cups, we'll sit and wait and watch Barcelona and Milan slowly pick our team apart.
So maybe, probably, definitely, some of our boys are leaving next year.
It's pretty frustrating because we were so close last year before we lost Flamini and Hleb. And after a horrible first half of the season, we're starting to see the seeds of the next great Arsenal side in this current team; well, you can see it if you squint and tilt your head. Denilson and Song as DMs and three attacking midfielders are a potent combo. It's going to be really disappointing if we're going to have to start again next season.