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Master of chips

Hello and good morning to you. Or afternoon or evening, depending on where you are. The big boys returned for the first full session of training at Arsenal, full as in everyone is involved. In the bulged bunch of players to add to those who already restarted training last week and play in the Memorial Cup, it includes want-away Robin van Persie, still captain of Arsenal.

Looking increasingly greyish (hair wise), RvP was captured in most pictures published on the official website. This, despite Stuart MacFarlane’s twitter bio saying that he captures what he wants. So, obviously he intends to capture the current captain. Or he could be under the instruction of the PR people at the club who does not want headlines to be made by not including any pictures of RvP.

At the absence of substantial news or subjects to talk about, it was funny seeing how every picture was analysed to the death. I’m also guilty of doing so. Most of those comments were sarcastically done. All those “deadwood” or “players on the sell list” were also present in training. Nicklas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin being the two main ones in focused. As always, one cannot fault Arshavin’s playfulness in front of the camera.

One name who wasn’t there because he was away at his future club to finalise a transfer, is Carlos Vela. It may not be on Arsenal’s website yet but Real Sociedad has more or less confirmed his signing. There’s goes the Mexican wonder. Someone who when he first came into our side, especially in that Carling Cup games against Sheffield United, had us going bonkers over his performance. The chips were never down when it comes to Vela, if you catch my drift.

He has had a productive loan season with Sociedad in 2011/12. I might be wrong but I think he ended up finishing as their top scorer. Which shows he has the quality to shine but perhaps we were not the right club for him. Our current formation doesn’t seem to suit him as the previous 2 up front seemed to do. Still only 23 years of age, it was the right decision to negotiate a sell-on clause into his transfer to the La Liga side. Time may yet still be on Vela’s side and a future big money move would benefit us. So, despite moving away from the club, I guess we still wish him well and hope he has a successful career.

His wasn’t the only deal that looks to have been concluded. M’Baye Niang is also rumoured to have agreed a deal with us. Well, technically it’s us agreeing a deal with Caen rather than the player himself. Although, I’d take this rumour with a pinch of salt. Anything that the media quoted as saying that they understand, should be take as so. Given his age, I don’t think any labelling of a potential Niang signing as one which will be a direct replacement for RvP.

While it’s all working up ahead of steam in the striking department, in terms of the ins and outs, the same cannot be said of the midfield side of things. Yann M’Vila has become a name that puzzles me. From experts (journalist I really trust) saying that his deal is 99% concluded to Rennes saying that no offers has been received for him. It is all very misleading.

Someone is lying and we are not in the liberty to say who. On one hand, I get that Rennes values him as a player and wants to maximise whatever profit that they will gain out of his transfer. But if there is no competition for his signature, then the price cannot be driven up. A one club target just like we had with Cesc Fabregas last season, only makes the seller’s hand weaker.

I’ll be forthright with you. I haven’t seen much of M’Villa in action for Rennes. And no, I’m not going to be reviewing all Youtube compilations of him to make a judgement. As far as I can tell he’s a defensive midfielder and that is a position which we are looking to strengthen. All of which I can be fully supportive of. However, I did catch what he did during the European Championship at Poland/Ukraine and I must say, I wasn’t impressed.

Perhaps he plays a different style in Ligue 1 or in other matches for France but I can only base on what I witness myself. Looks to me like another Alex Song type of player. Which is strange because of the quotes that has appeared about him not being fancy and is happy to just sit in front of the defence and screen things. For what I saw was a player who wasn’t positionally aware of his defensive role. Again, based on the games I saw at the Euros (at this point, there should be a few – “were we watching the same game?”).

Having said all that, M’Vila could very well fit into our system and understands the instruction given to him and be a great player for us. Though, we first have to get through all the confusion and be firm with the transfer dealings, if we really want him. Any deals that we wish to do, should be done and dusted before this weekend with everyone boarding the plane to pre-season.

For once, I would like to see a fixed squad going out for pre season training.