America, land of the free and the home of the 50% discount on selected items, while supplies last. Is there another country in the world where you can wake up Friday morning at 5am, hoof it down to your local Big 5 Sporting Goods store stand in line for a few hours to buy a Remington 30-06 combo pack with scope for just $299? It’s the Early Bird Special, folks, and trust Big 5 to have you shooting things from distance just in time for Christmas.
And if you find that rifle’s too bulky to fit under your trenchcoat why not stump up the extra $40 for the Ruger “Takedown”? It’s a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle that conveniently breaks down and fits into a neat little backpack style case (case included)!
Ho ho ho.
It’s true, Americans have already started their Christmas shopping. My neighbors have their lights up, I’ve recycled 30lbs worth of mailers, and the Korean mini-mart down the street is already playing “White Christmas” on non-stop loop. But truth be told, Christmas shopping began the day after last Christmas and was only heightened by the recent deluge of advertisements for “Black Friday”.
And you know what? There may be a global economic meltdown happening right now, Spain may be bankrupt next month, but that’s not going to stop us Yanks from gearing up for the holidays. And in that time-honored American tradition of consumption for consumption’s sake I’m going to give my list of players I’d like Arsenal to buy for the holidays. It’s Arsenal’s shopping list for January, just in time for Black Friday, which if I say it takes on an entirely different meaning than when John Terry says it.
Why not? Why shouldn’t Arsenal fans be more like their consumer capitalist cousins, The Americans? We consume everything: turkey dinners, alcohol, petrochemicals, athletes, Sports teams, you name it and we’ll devour it.
And that’s why I’m particularly fond of that part of British football culture which places such a huge emphasis on buying players. Of course, not every Brit wants to buy for buying sake and not every American buys into the consumer culture but you can’t tell me that you would turn it down if Sheik Mansour bought us all a pony, or an Aguero.
And just like when I was growing up, I think we need to make a list of what we want for Christmas by perusing the Sears catalog (WhoScored.com) and hand it over to dad and mom and have them buy us stuff. It doesn’t really matter how much we need this stuff and whether it’s on a good sale or not, just buy it. Then, just like Christmas morning, when they don’t buy us what we want, we will stomp our feet and trash the living room while screaming about how they don’t love us and how we want our family back.* Then dad will get drunk and Arsenal will go on a three month losing streak.
Sign da ting! And by “da ting” I mean, “give him what he wants!” Or don’t, I don’t know, it’s too confusing. Should I be more frugal with “my” money or should I be less parsimonious with “your” money? This would all be made easier if some billionaire would just buy us everything we want and we could stop bickering over the pennies that we add to the club’s coffers and whether or not Peter Hill-Wood is a good custodian.
The reality is that Theo Walcott is not on sale, they want full price. Not on a limited time offer. Not while supplies last. Not take an extra 20% off with the code SPEEDSTER. He’s full price. And not only that, but certain conditions do apply. £100k/wk is just the starting point for this discussion. Add in certain guarantees in the contract (which if not met activate a release clause) and you can have him. Maybe, if Liverpool haven’t already turned his head.
Anyway, dad, trust me, he will look splendid in the new Adidas kit and is a club’s marketing dream. Think “Beckham lite”: he’s not going to cause any trouble, he’s well spoken, handsome, and English. Think of the stories we can spin over a cup of hot cocoa: when he doesn’t make the English national team he will “fight hard to regain his place” only to lose to the Germans again in some heartbreaking penalty shootout. He’ll probably marry that beautiful young lady he’s been with forever in some fairtytale wedding and they will have lots of beautiful little kids. And when he’s finally too old to play football in England he will “bring football to America.”
Also he’s a decent footballer.
I know this is seems anathema to the whole “fire sale” theme that most Americans are used to around Christmas but I think you offer Theo Walcott whatever it takes to keep him. £100k/wk? That’s what you’re going to pay for just about any decent player to replace him. Let’s say you find a guy who is willing to take £50k, you’re still going to have to pay a transfer fee, agent’s fees, and probably signing bonuses. It adds up pretty quick.
So, maybe it’s a deal to pay the guy? Not so sure about those contract clauses, but hey, this is a Christmas list who cares about clauses?
Dad, buying Theo is the Christmas equivalent to a collectable Bowie Knife.
Ok, if I can’t have Walcott then I’ll take Erik Lamela from Roma. He’s Argentinian, a great dribbler, plays wide on the right, is 20 years old, already has 8 goals for a decidedly putrid Roma team, and he even tackles!* Did you know that among the top scoring forwards he is the only player along with Messi and Suarez with more than 2 successful dribbles per game?
One problem, though, Roma are in serious financial trouble but not the kind of financial trouble that, say, Malaga were in. So, while some of us might dream of getting Lamela for a song, Roma is not new to football. They would require top dollar to get hands on a player they just paid over £20m to sign.
This is the equivalent of me asking my rather poor family to buy me the Millennium Falcon play set.
Sure, there’s Giroud, Walcott, Podolski, Arshavin and Gervinho already taking the three forward spots at Arsenal. And they are all scoring goals. So, does Arsenal need another forward? Does the rich kid with the Millennium Falcon play set need the Hoth play set, Dagoba, and 100 Storm Troopers?** The answer is yes. YES. YEEEEEEEEEESSSSS!
So therefore, please buy me a Falcao.
This would be the Christmas equivalent of buying me… oh wait I already did that.
Do you know which players WhoScored.com ranks as the top players in France? Yes, Zlatan is number one. Sure, Anthony Le Tallec is number two. Ok, Steed Malbranque is number three. But I’m not interested in any of those guys. I want Etienne Capoue! Numero four on the French list.
Arsenal need another midfielder to backup Abou Diaby and while I know it will take some convincing to get papa to agree, I would love it if Arsenal would buy a purely defensive midfielder or at least a “more purely defensive midfielder to fit Arsenal’s mostly not really defensive setup which seems to be getting slightly more defensive while ironically relying on one of the league’s best passing midfielders to shoulder the burden of playing in that sort of most defensive role.”
And for the second year in a row Capoue is putting up impressive numbers for Toulouse. He’s 5th in headers won in Ligue Un (which is huge for a midfielder, look for another with more than 3 per game), averages 6.3 clearances a game, 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, and an amazing 2nd best 8.8 long balls per game. Oh and 2 goals and 2 assists.
The thing about Capoue that turns people off is that he’s kind of a gangly mutt of a player. He always looks awkward when he plays and his long passing technique is strange. But it works. And frankly, he will eventually find a career in the Premier League. Whether that’s with Arsenal or not is up to papa.
Capoue may actually be on sale, not sure if I’ve seen any mailers for him but there is a limited quantity (one) so we better act soon.
This is the Christmas equivalent of buying us a puppy. But with mange, because that’s all we can afford. But the question is whether a mangy puppy is better than a broken Diaby.
Am I asking for too much, dad? Probably. But I’m an American and we always ask for more than we should, that way we are always disappointed. It’s what makes us strive for things, this constant overbearing disappointment.
Just, whatever you do, please don’t get me what you got me last year: an IOU for a week’s worth of backrubs.
At least make me something. Or get me an old, washed up goal-keeper. Geeze.
*All Argentinians can tackle. They learn it in the womb where they practice on placenta.
**I always wanted a gods damn company of Storm Troopers.