With the January transfer window just around the corner and Wenger likely (we hope) to dip into the market, it’s got me thinking about whether a player’s private life should affect whether we buy them or not.
The football industry is never without its fair share of controversy. From doping, to tax scandals; blackmail to bribery. However, should a player’s past affect whether we buy them now or, if the player is good enough, should we willfully ignore their previous ‘indiscretions’.
If you’ve been paying attention to football news recently, you’ll know all about Karim Benzema’s alleged involvement in the sextape/blackmail scandal. The Real Madrid forward is someone we’ve been linked heavily with for years, especially during the summer, and a player many lambasted Wenger for not buying.
However, with the huge controversy surrounding the Frenchman, it’s looking like a good decision not to put pen to paper all those months ago.
Fortunately, most of my Twitter timeline are of the same opinion as me and reckon we should get as far away from the mess as possible. But I have seen the odd few celebrating that we’re once again being linked with him in January, although quite how we’ll sign him if he goes to prison is beyond me.
Another player often making headlines is Zlatan Ibrahimovic – another player we’re being linked with. The PSG star is notoriously cocky, self-centred and arrogant, and although this isn’t on anywhere near as large a scale as blackmail, signing him would still attract a great deal of attention.
I’ve seen the argument a few times that it doesn’t matter if the player is a bit of a see-you-next-Tuesday because it’s what they do on the pitch that matters. Basically, if a player is really good, we shouldn’t care about who they are off the pitch.
I have to disagree. The impact of having a player who attracts negative attention can have an impact on the club, squad and therefore pitch.
For once at Arsenal we seem to have a completely balanced dressing room. For a long time we always had at least one character who wouldn’t be rallying the troops, he’d be making them uncomfortable, creating a negative atmosphere and preventing the squad from truly bonding behind the scenes.
Bringing in someone who could potentially disrupt our entire team and what we’ve built could be detrimental to our progress and no matter how good they are, could unbalance the harmony. This could lead to players leaving, arguments and, ultimately, lack of success.
On another level, it could affect both the way others see our club and how we, as fans, connect with the team.
Arsenal Football Club is built on class. We’re not Chelsea, who happily bring in players like Diego Costa, for the sake of netting a few goals, despite him essentially being a nasty piece of work. Our players are known for being polite, not having huge attitudes (not publicly at least) and for being great role models. If we were to start forgetting all our morals and family club values just for the sake of maybe scoring more goals, we lose the essence of what makes us Arsenal.
At first, if everything went to plan and the player appeared to be helping the team, I’m sure the fans would jump on the bandwagon and celebrate a great signing. However, after a while, when the cracks begin to show, they’d start to realise that maybe we may have sold our soul for the sake of better stats.
Chelsea’s purchase of Costa is a fantastic example of a club willing to cough up cash for a player who is known to be horrid but will score goals. And he did. His first season for the Blues was great and the Chelsea Massive were singing his name from the stands (they were well overdue a new song, let’s be honest). But now, particularly after his ruck with Gabriel, people are beginning to see him for what he is: a liability. A player who is likely to spend most of the season in the stands due to his petulant nature, or injury, rather than scoring in front of them.
This is why Wenger needs to stick to his guns, not bow to pressure by signing the wrong player at the wrong time and just do what his experience tells him.