The Mill has decided that it does not want an answer from Arsène Wenger any more. There was a while there where we thought it would be helpful if the man who has been in charge of Arsenal since the last century would let us know for how much longer he planned to stay, but now the Mill thinks it would admire him more if he continued to deflect questions about his future and resolved to never, ever to make any definitive public announcement about it.
When he decides it is time for him to leave, Wenger should say nothing, just slip out the back door under the cover of a giant sleeping-bag coat and quietly amble off over the horizon. At some point fans will realise that he is not coming back. Some will lament that he never said goodbye; some will be frustrated that they never got the satisfaction of seeing whether he had a tear in his eye as he departed for the last time or whether he flipped the bird at Sir Chips Keswick or keyed the car of Ivan Gazidis; most will immediately start claiming that they know what his next move will be but, really, no one will have a clue.
In the months that follow there will be reported sightings of him having a kickabout in a tie-dye shirt on a beach in Morocco or whooping it up on a Japanese rollercoaster with Abou Diaby. There will be fake Twitter accounts claiming to chronicle his new life as a coach in China or a tree surgeon in Borris-in-Ossory. But nothing will be confirmed and, after a while, the same people who travel to remote places just to hold up WENGER OUT signs will organise expeditions to track down their former manager to ask him how he is and does he miss them?
With a bit of luck they will not find him. But on soft days when the air is still they will sense his presence, almost feel him looking at them, smiling from the corner of his mouth and saying: “That is a little bit the problem of modern society, everybody wants answers. When you are experienced and really focused, you know that what is important is to answer yourself.” And then like that – pffft! – he’ll be gone again.
In the meantime, here’s some talk of other comings-and-goings at Arsenal.
Firstly, there are murmurings that Laurent Koscielny will leave the club this summer in response to ardent wooing by Marseille. David Ospina is also tipped to leave, possibly to Turkey. Inward-bound, meanwhile, could be a pair of strikers: Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and Tammy Abraham from Chelsea via Bristol City. And if Wenger does leave, he will not be replaced by Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim – at least not if Internazionale have anything to do with it, because the Italian club have made Jardim their top target after making no progress in their bid to prise Antonio Conte from Chelsea.
And the first thing Conte will do at Chelsea this summer is sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, perhaps even awarding the Dutchman John Terry’s old parking space once the 36-year-old has taken his motor and steered it towards Swansea, where Paul Clement is waiting with a warm and capacious garage.
Another captain set to leave a club he won the title with is Wes Morgan, who may be lured from Leicester to Newcastle by Rafa Benítez. Leicester will then fill the sizeable gap in their defence by rescuing Harry Maguire from Hull City.
Manchester United also want a new centre-back, and a very familiar one: word is they’ll pay up to £25m to re-sign Michael Keane from Burnley, to whom they sold him for not much two-and-a-half years ago.
Meanwhile back at Chelsea, Conte intends following up his capture of Van Dijk by duking it out with Manchester City for the services of Kyle Walker.
West Ham will offer a new home to Pablo Zabaleta – West Ham and new homes always hit it off straight away. And finally, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid are all set to be disappointed by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will snub enquires from all of Europe’s elite in order to explore the heritage, art and culture of China, where one club is offering him a salary of £800,000 per week.