Tottenham Hotspur have sealed the signing of Lewis Holtby, who will arrive in the summer, one day after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger officially declared his interest in the 22-year-old.
Spurs acted quickest, but if Holtby had really wanted to go to Arsenal he would have held out for a switch to the Emirates.
Whilst five years ago Arsenal would have certainly been the front-runners – their Champions League elite status, along with their title contention of yesteryear would have surely swung the transfer pendulum in their favour but this choice is a sign of the times.
Spurs are currently in third position in the Premier League and, under new manager Andre Villas-Boas they seem to be functioning well as a unit – especially considering they’ve lost key players and have had to bring in several re-enforcements.
Likewise, Arsenal are swiftly ensuring their status as a selling club – the ambitions of their board seem to involve filling their bank balances, rather than their trophy cabinets and the team’s quality has diminished dramatically. They haven’t won a trophy in 7 years and their manager is running out of excuses.
Nonetheless, the Gunners are still the ‘bigger’ club – they are more popular, more financially secure, their facilities are world-class, their appeal is, although diminished, still that of a worldwide nature.
Spurs have yet to cement their place alongside the Gunners as one of the country’s top four teams although perhaps bringing in Lewis Holtby could ensure that. Spurs are on the up, while Arsenal are falling down – for a 22-year-old with his whole career in front of him, it's probably a wise decision although to be fair both options were attractive for him.
Crucially, Spurs desperately needed an added injection of creativity since the departure of Luka Modric – they need that conductor and as of yet, Modric’s replacements Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey still have to settle in a bit longer. Holtby should become a regular first-team player from the offset.
Arsenal currently have eight or nine senior players competing for just three central midfield roles – despite serious fitness concerns over Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky, Wenger continues to stick with them and he’ll likely feel he has enough ‘creative’ types already. What Arsenal really need is another striker and a defensive midfielder and Holtby is neither.
It’s a shame for Gunners’ fans to miss out – especially as he went to Spurs – because in a season on two Diaby and Rosicky’s contracts will expire and Arsenal will be in need of a quality playmaker who could very well be one of his generations most prominent figures.
By then Holtby could be worth double the salary of what his suitors are offering now for him and his stock can only rise. Along with Isco, Toni Kroos and Jack Wilshere, he’s considered one of the finest young attacking midfielders on the continent.
Has Holtby made the right decision?
image: © achimh