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Havertz, Arteta's riskiest bet at Arsenal


Highlights: Mikel Arteta demanded the signing of playmaker Kai Havetrz against the opinion of the club's owners. Arteta mortgaged his prestige to demonstrate to the American owners that he deserves the power they claims in the decision-making of the most ambitious club in north London. The evolution of the team worries the Kroenkes, who consider that their investment deserves a jump in quality. Since Arteta arrived at the Etihad in December 2019, Arsenal's balance between sales and purchases shows a negative figure of 532 million euros.

The coach demanded the signing of the playmaker against the opinion of the club's owners, who have not added any more points this season despite a record investment

Mikel Arteta shouted, threw his punches in the air, faced the public in search of complicity, bared his teeth.

He was in the 24th minute of the Premier match against Newcastle, this Saturday at the Etihad, and Kai Havetrz had just scored his seventh goal in 36 games since Arsenal signed him last summer.

The 2-0 was a reason for happiness for the fans and relief for a coach who, in exchange for the signing of Havertz for 75 million euros, mortgaged his prestige to demonstrate to the American owners of the club, the Kroenke family, that he deserves the power they claims in the decision-making of the most ambitious club in north London.

“Arteta said that Havertz would be a total success as an interior player,” explains one of Arsenal's leading agents, a trusted man of Stan Kroenke, the owner, and Richard Garlick, the general director, on condition of anonymity.

"It was his non-negotiable bet to replace Granit Xhaka and occupy a vital position to maintain the team's football balance and take the step to the next step that would allow us to win the Premier."

The coach's position, according to this source, unleashed a deep internal debate.

There were people in sports management and in Kroenke's entourage who strongly opposed incorporating the German.

They considered him a player too inclined to be distracted to place him in one of the axes of the midfield in exchange for the highest salary in the squad and a transfer of 75 million euros to Chelsea, a direct rival, which would leave Arsenal without the ability to maneuver. financial if things didn't work out.

Arteta won.

But tensions within the club have not ceased.

Havertz, who only functions as a playmaker and is as irregular as at Chelsea, barely participates in the management of the midfield.

Arsenal's game is sustained by the extraordinary momentum of Rice, Jorginho, Odegaard, Trossard and Martinelli.

But the team has not improved its circulation rate compared to last season and is ranked worse.

After 26 rounds played, they are third with 58 points, below City (59) and Liverpool (60).

A year ago at this stage of the season Arsenal were first with 63 points.

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The evolution of the team worries the Kroenkes.

They consider that their investment deserves a jump in quality.

With the exception of Chelsea, which spent 900 million to replace its squad after being expropriated and sold in 2020 for geopolitical reasons, in the last four seasons Arsenal is the European club that spends the most on players.

Since Arteta arrived at the Etihad in December 2019 from the office of Guardiola's first assistant at Mancehster City, Arsenal's balance between sales and purchases shows a negative figure of 532 million euros, according to Transfermarkt.

In the same period, PSG spent 400 million, Liverpool 290, and Manchester City 280.

Arsenal's spending responds to the coach's diagnosis, who during his first two seasons in London insisted that the team was not working because there were players who undermined his authority in the locker room.

To please him, the club released or loaned Özil, Lacazette, Pepé, Aubameyang, and William, among others;

and he replaced them with Partey, Odegaard or Saliba.

After two and a half years on the bench, an eighth place in 2020, another eighth place in 2021 and a fifth place in 2022 without significant progress in the game, the Kroenkes called the club executives to impose the coach a strategy from sports management.

This newspaper has tried to contrast this information with Arteta, without success.

But since 2022, there are various people linked to the club who assure that the message that Arsenal gave the coach was unequivocal: bury forever the schemes with three center backs and two pivots that he used so much between 2019 and 2022, and implement once and for all. for all the 4-3-3 that is the basis of Guardiola's model.

For that, ultimately, they took him to London.

But Arteta, as the club suspects, did not want to play with a scheme parallel to Guardiola's "so that he would not be associated with him."

The Basque coach, who told his friends that he had not used the 4-3-3 due to a lack of competent footballers, had been with Ceballos, Odegaard, Martinelli, Xhaka and Thomas Partey for a year when they gave him the ultimatum.

In the sports management they considered that the squad had always been suitable for developing more offensive football, but the 4-2-3-1 arrangement prevented this.

From Arsenal they indicate that Arteta never knew how to organize the double pivot with solvency, and point out that when Xhaka or Ceballos went up to attack, the more positional pivot had very serious doubts about how to cover the area freed by his teammate.

This, added to the inconsideration of Martinelli and the loss of Odegaard, condemned to always be at the wrong time of the plays in the 50 meters of field width assigned to him as a playmaker, caused Arsenal to get stuck in the 2021-22 season.

“We had to implement a model that helps footballers,” they point out from the English club;

“not that it helped Arteta distance himself from Guardiola.

That is why the club proposed to establish a 4-3-3 with a single pivot that assigns the two interior players great capacity for action, with freedom to approach the pivot, and giving their natural talent preponderance over the rigidity of positions."

The owners impose Guardiola's 4-3-3

The San Sebastian coach was the first to understand that if he did not accept the proposal made by the owners from the United States, he would be fired.

Edu Gaspar, figurehead of the sports management, acted as a mere transmitter of messages from the de facto powers that govern Arsenal via Denver.

After holding a meeting with the club's leaders, they reached a basic agreement: Arteta would follow the steps outlined by the sports management and Arsenal would maintain in public that he would be the first sports authority of the project.

The club warned that it was essential to protect the coach's image to give him strength in the eyes of the squad.

For all intents and purposes, the introduction of the 4-3-3 would be sold as their own thing.

The same as the signing of Gabriel Jesús.

If the hiring of the Brazilian striker was a condition imposed from Denver, in London they point out that the success of the negotiation that allowed the City player to be attracted to Arsenal was the merit of Arteta.

Arteta complied with the roadmap they outlined for him.

He put Partey as the sole pivot, and Odegaard and Xhaka on the flanks.

The team took off.

In the fall of 2022 he was the revelation of European football.

Partey shone as a midfielder.

Xhaka played the best games of his career at Arsenal, and Odegaard went from being a footballer under suspicion to becoming the most far-sighted player in the Premier League.

Arsenal were on the verge of taking the League away from City.

At the end of the season, the Kroenkes decided to make an economic effort to try to make a breakthrough.

They spent 130 million on Declan Rice to reinforce the pivot and, when they were looking for an alternative to Xhaka, who wanted to return to Germany, they found that Arteta was demanding his share of credit and power.

Convinced that the second place achieved in the Premier was his work, he demanded the signing of Havertz.

In internal conversations, Arteta defended Havertz as a player with all the necessary conditions as an interior: continuity in the game, good footing, dynamism and good physique.

Most of the Kroenkes' advisors expressed objections: they saw him as intermittent and absent-minded, and they warned that he was not good as an interior player to manage the rhythms of the game but, perhaps, as a man in the area, something they did not need that Havertz could do.

His unusual ability to approach the rival goal when the play is in motion to finish with the first touch, adjusting the ball to the posts, enabled him to score goals more or less intermittently, but what Arsenal needed to dominate the Premier, The advisors warned, he was not a finisher but a midfielder like Gündogan, Pedri or Frenkie de Jong.

When the Kroenkes doubted the convenience of spending all the money they had left in their coffers on an expendable footballer, the coach, according to club sources, put his prestige ahead of the signing.

By dint of pressure, he obtained satisfaction.

Eight months later, Kai Havertz, whose position between number


and midfield remains undefined, comes and goes without making much of an impact in an Arsenal so full of excellent footballers that there are days when he could play very well even with one less.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2024-02-26

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