Ah, transfer season. It's almost upon us again - the FA Cup's in the bag, and July 1 is just over a month away. So of course, instead of basking in the glow of yesterday's second straight Cup win, and instead of more recognition that Arsenal now have won more FA Cups than anybody in the history of the English game, we have to deal with transfer crap.
And of course, leading that charge is the soccer media, who need content to shovel into the maw of the beast, regardless of how true any of the wild crap they vomit forth actually is (SPOILER ALERT: Not a whole lot). The media have conditioned minds to the fact that spending on big names is the only way to succeed, and so once there's no games to talk about, talk turns to teams spending stupid amounts of money on players.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying Arsene Wenger isn't playing the same game as everyone else. When asked about his transfer strategy today, he replied in his usual coy way, not giving anything of substance away, but he did say this:
It's simple. I do not want to tell you how much money we have. But I have not made a clear decision yet for what I will do. Don't rule anything out and I will not tell you as well how much money we will spend. I'm always more focused on quality.
"Today Santi Cazorla has been voted man of the match. I think he has not cost £150m. [Francis] Coquelin was one of the best players on the pitch. You have to always look at the real quality of people. I am not against spending money. I have shown that recently. But I want a good rapport between price and quality."
Now, let's take a minute and parse that, shall we? The lazier, more vindictive portions of the aforementioned media - and a non-zero portion of the Twitterati - will jump on this and say ARSENE WON'T SPEND AGAIN THIS IS WHY ARSENAL WILL NEVER WIN ANYTHING EXCEPT A THIRD PLACE TROPHY.
Except, if you read again, that's not actually what he said, is it? No. He said, as clearly as he ever has, that he's not against spending money. Look again! That's EXACTLY what he said! I'm not paraphrasing!
What he said was, he will not spend more than the quality of the player deserves. This is not new - this is how he's always been, and just because Arsenal's money trough just got bigger, it sounds like he'll still be that way this year.
I don't really have a problem with that - and after consecutive summers in which Arsenal brought in Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, you shouldn't either. One thing Arsene does do well is judge talent, and whether the talent he brings in is a "big name" or not, it's a safe bet that whoever comes in will make the team better.
What's my point? I guess mostly my point is that when it comes to transfers, don't drink the Kool-Aid the media is serving up. Be skeptical when every major name is linked to Arsenal, because 99.999999% of them won't arrive. It's fun to fantasize, but don't buy into the fallacy that if Arsenal don't buy this year's Most Expensive Glamor Toy, it was a failed transfer season.
Arsenal are a very good team right now, and Arsene Wenger is going to continue to improve and evolve it as he sees fit. This is not a situation where Arsenal were reeling at season's end and starting from two steps back - Arsenal are well poised to mount a good challenge next season, and it would seem that tweaking and not going crazy will be the order of the summer.