Our writer Chris Baker had an exclusive chat with journalist Liam Canning, as they speak about the summer 2016 transfer activity thus far ahead of the Barclays Premier League next season.
It has been widely reported Alexandre Lacazette could swap life in France for London with a move to Arsenal a real possibility, do you think he would be a good fit for the Gunners or should they look elsewhere?
It would be a wise move to go for Lacazette. Giroud’s a good target man to have up there and can hold-up play brilliantly, but there’s not a striker on the books with real class that can stretch defences and play in behind. Walcott’s form is so inconsistent it’s surprising to even see him at Arsenal now, so Lacazette would be an obvious choice to rival Giroud for the starting position. When Jamie Vardy was linked to Arsenal, it was refreshing to see, because that’s what Wenger needs in order to amount a proper title-challenge; a quick striker that can run in behind and can finish first time. Lacazette is of that calibre and would be a very astute purchase – no matter the price.
Jose Mourinho has already signed two world class players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan; they look set to sign Paul Pogba imminently, would you make them favourites for the title next season?
I think it’s tough to call who the favourites are without the transfer window shutting. Man City are on course to bring in Leroy Sané and John Stones, which would round up a very smart summer window – also factoring in Pep Guardiola, so you’d have to say they’re the favourites for the Premier League. Yet, the likes of Man United and Chelsea won’t be far away, and if Arsenal can bring in a striker and a centre-back, they are up there too. The likes of Leicester and Spurs, who enjoyed wonderfully inspiring seasons last year, I feel will drop out of the top four and be fighting for the Europa League. It’s going to be a season full of ups and downs, that’s for sure.
Talking of Pogba, he’ll become the most expensive player in history, his potential is colossal and he is one of the brightest talents in football, do you think he can he deal with the pressure and is worthy of the massive price tag?
It’s a difficult one to assess. One of the biggest problems when concluding a world-record deal is the mind-set of the player. It’s easy to suggest that he might be able to handle it because he’s been playing for France at the Euros, or Juventus in the Champions League final, or that he has ‘swagger’ on Instagram, but it’s not always the case. When someone becomes the MOST expensive player to ever live, there’s an added pressure onto you, not to mention the fact he’ll have to justify that price tag in his first season.
Is he worthy of the price tag based on his performances over the last four years? No. But, when you accumulate all the relevant information regarding the new Premier League TV deal, Man Utd’s expected revenue (exceeding £500m for the first time ever in an annual year), the resale value the club will generate when Real Madrid inevitably come knocking and other commercially delightful deals, it becomes a lot more attractive to them. In the grand scheme of things, to Manchester United, this is relatively cheap change and it won’t affect them a jot.
Antonio Conte may revert to playing a 3-5-2 next season and could sign Romelu Lukaku from Everton this summer, if they got the Belgian, would Diego Costa make a return to Spain?
Before the summer began, my initial thinking was that Diego Costa would return to his beloved Atlético Madrid, but with the signing of Kevin Gameiro, perhaps that route is now blocked off. If Chelsea can’t sign Lukaku, then Costa’s set to stay and spearhead the attack. I don’t necessarily think Conte needs Lukaku and Costa, especially with the Blues’s absence of European competition this season.
Arsenal have once again had a slow summer, they are in desperate need for not only a forward, but a defender after Mertesacker’s injury, who should the Gunners target to fill the hole in defence?
Mustafi is the obvious choice, and with Valencia pricing him at €25m, that will be the bargain of the summer no doubt. He’s 24-years-old but a nightly impressive and experienced defender, not to mention his versatility. It’d be a really smart move from Wenger and co., and they should look to get that deal done before other clubs start sniffing around.