It is very rare these days that we see an Arsenal player with a genuine connection to the club. A local lad, someone who has known Arsenal all their life, and not just from the start of their footballing education. When Lansbury scored against Spurs last season everybody could see what it meant to him – he is Arsenal born and bred – and suggestions of letting him go without giving him a decent chance in the first team would be typical of the youth project in recent years.
Players like Denilson and Diaby get chance after chance. Arsene would argue that they have talent. Guess what, so does Lansbury, and his connection to the club could be just the thing to get that extra 10% from him – the 10% more than the probably more naturally gifted Diaby would give, or the lackluster Denilson.
When a squad is being assembled you need a mixture of technical excellence, physical presence and grit. Lansbury, whilst not ticking the first two boxes, would almost certainly fill the latter. Football is about passion and there is nothing more passionate than a local lad doing well at his local football team.
The departure of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas may be used as a way of sending a message to the current youngsters at Arsenal. Whilst incredibly gifted, his head is not quite as sharp as his feet and he has paid the price. His £1.1m move to Ipswich town could well be a brilliant bit of business for them, but he certainly needs to show more application than he has done at Arsenal. Wenger offered him a flavour of the first team with sub appearances early on in the season, it obviously didn’t seem to whet JET’s appetite adequately enough from the viewpoint of the boss. A shame, yes, but not a departure that I really care about.
When talking about Henri a while ago Wenger said this:
“I like his attitude, his spirit, his mental strength”
These are three qualities that you could question the team missed at vital times last season, selling Lansbury would be going against his own words – Wenger is not only looking for quality in this transfer window, he is looking to galvanize his squad with qualities. To use a Wengerism, why spend money on these things when you have them at the club already?
Many a comparison has been made with Ray Parlour and you can see why, both a hard working players to make up for their lack of natural ability compared to more technically advanced team-mates – Lansbury would know what Arsenal means, he could also identify with the club as a fan. That in modern football is priceless.
It would be worth giving Lansbury his chance. At least if he lacks the real cutting edge quality to make it at a Champions League club he would give 100%. Can you say that of players who got a much better shot in his place?
I doubt that very much.