Mikel Arteta reportedly recently phoned Ivan Rakitic to convince him to come to Arsenal, according to le10sport as translated by our friends over at Barca Blaugranes. The 32-year old Croatian midfielder is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of this season, and Sevilla have reportedly made a €10 million offer that Arsenal could look to hijack.
It feels like this one is grist for the transfer rumor mill and not likely to happen. For one, who knows if that phone call actually happened. I’d wager it didn’t because it would probably run afoul of tampering restrictions. Even if it didn’t break any official rules, it would probably violate some sense of professionalism and decorum among clubs.
But with Matteo Guendouzi likely on his way out of North London and not much clarity on whether Dani Ceballos’ loan will be extended for another season, there might be room in the Arsenal midfield. Add to that rumors of a Lucas Torreira return to Italy, and Arsenal appear to have a growing hole at the base of the midfield.
Rakitic would fill that gap, but he apparently would prefer to stay in Spain or move to Italy. And at 32 years old, he doesn’t fit the transfer strategy that I’d like to see Arsenal pursuing.
My preferred agenda doesn’t really matter. What does matter, however, is what Mikel Arteta wants and the strategy the club seems to be employing. Arsenal have been linked to several veteran players lately. Whether those links indicate a consistent transfer policy or are just the product of media rumor-mongering is hard to tell.
My general inclination is to defer to what Arteta says he wants, at least for now. I think he’s got the club headed in the right direction and has earned some benefit of the doubt. At the same time, I don’t love the idea of Arsenal becoming a Premier League retirement home. Veteran players are fine as a stop-gap to give younger guys time to develop, but sign too many veterans and you wind up with a roster full of old, hard-to-move, declining players on large wages. And have you taken a look at the Arsenal roster lately? That’s kind of where the club is right now, and how’s that going for us?
But all that could (and probably will be) a post on it’s own. For now, I don’t think Ivan Rakitic is headed to North London.