Desperation, as the old saying goes, is a stinky cologne.
We’ve all seen the guy who keeps going out of pocket to buy drinks for every painfully disinterested girl drink he see. He is a staple at every bar and nightclub since the advent of nightlife. He is met with failure, and yet there he sits every night, ever hopeful despite the previous night’s failures, a tragic figure on full display.
Enter Wilfried Zaha. The tricky Premier League attacker has seemingly been linked to Arsenal for what feels like forever, especially last summer when Arsenal were in the market for a creative winger to replace Alex Iwobi. Nicolas Pepe and Zaha were the two names that dominated the transfer rumors that summer as the Gunners sought a wide creator. While Zaha had the support of many Arsenal fans, he himself having vocalized a love for the Gunners in the past, Pepe was the new kid on the block lighting up Ligue 1.
Sadly for the Crystal Palace player, it wasn’t meant to be. Arsenal decided to sign his younger Ivorian counterpart, all but closing the book on the Zaha to Arsenal rumors.
Fast forward to last weekend. The season has just wrapped up and the transfer rumor mill is running at full tilt to keep speed with the COVID-era abridged transfer window. Players are on holiday while their agents test the waters. Zaha, like so many other athletes, has been out living his best life during the three week break between seasons, undoubtedly spending more money on a night out with friends than most of us make in a year.
During one night out last week, though, it appears that a member of Zaha’s entourage took to social media during party at a nightclub with all of the usual accoutrements - loud music, trippy lights, and a very bright neon sign that reads “ZAHA TO ARSENAL,” apparently - to shamelessly advertise Zaha as an option for the Gunners.
Wilfried Zaha pointing at a 'ZAHA TO ARSENAL' neon sign in a nightclub pic.twitter.com/77neV3y9kz— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) August 9, 2020
In the video you can see Zaha, and just over his shoulder is the sign. He is all smiles as he gives a knowing point to the sign, saying everything and nothing at the same time. In today’s salacious hot-take industry, this is a fuse just begging for a match. With no tangible rumor preceding it, it’s at best a coy flirtation by Zaha with his favorite club. At worst, it’s a poorly thought out desperation Hail Mary by his team to get rumors started.
If it all stopped there, it would have been fine, a silly story during silly season. But like all desperation attempts, it did not stop there.
Anthony Billing on Instagram story, pictured with Wilfried Zaha: “@arsenal if you don’t sign this man up you lot are f*cking stupid you know the price is easy in today’s market @wilfriedzaha” [IG: anthonybilling] #afc pic.twitter.com/c5qqpcc3ro— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 9, 2020
There’s shameless self promotion, and then there’s whatever the hell this is.
Anthony Billing, the same member of Zaha’s entourage who put out the previous video, decided to take things to a superliminal level when he posted a selfie with Zaha and a message telling Arsenal that they would be “f*cking stupid” to not sign him, which is about as subtle as a tack hammer to the thumb.
In a way, I can appreciate Billing’s efforts. He is the proverbial wingman stepping in to help his friend’s chances with the disinterested girl, willing to fall on the grenade of rejection in hopes of getting a foot in the door for his buddy. In an effort to help out Zaha and Billing’s efforts to get the man signed, here is a short list of things that would be as subtle as Billing’s posts:
- Hiring a professional skywriter to write “SIGN ZAHA YOU F*CKING NONCE” above the Emirates.
- A “Zaha to Arsenal” door-to-door grassroots canvassing campaign in North London.
- Recreating the famous sign scene from “Love, Actually” at Mikel Arteta’s house.
- Zaha blasting In Your Eyes from a boombox ala “Say, Anything” outside of the Emirates.
- Showing up to Arsenal’s first day of training in a bootleg kit from DH Gate.
- Scheduling an appearance on AFTV.
- Billboards. Billboards everywhere.
With the announcement of the signing of Willian yesterday, it’s safe to assume that the Gunners will no longer be in search of another wide player, which means the ugly reality of rejection once again for our old pal Wilf, who will continue to hold onto hope for a lifeline out of the mediocrity of Crystal Palace. He may have missed the mark once again with the Gunners, but in the timeless words of Michael Scott from the Office: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. - Wayne Gretzky. -Michael Scott.”