For the most part, football fans are outside observers who don’t know the inner workings of the football clubs they moan, rant and shout about on a daily basis.
When it comes to transfers and recruitment especially, things are often far more complicated than we believe, so saying things like ‘sign Mbappe’ or ‘just spend £500m on new players, it’s not hard’ usually misses the big picture.
But sometimes there’s no getting away from it. Now and again, a club will come along and make such a glaring mistake that you have no choice but to take stock and ask ‘why have they just done that?!’
In this case it’s Arsenal, who appear to have taken a long, hard look at Odsonne Edouard, who is available for as little as £15m this summer, and decided he isn’t for them.
The Gunners were interested in the Frenchman, that much was made clear earlier in the window. But a report on Sunday suggests their inaction has opened the door for Leicester to move in, and now a reunion with Brendan Rodgers beckons.
What have Leicester seen in him? Well, everything Arsenal saw. A young, immensely talented player with an all-round ability that carries shades of Thierry Henry. He’s not the powerhouse he is often lazily typecast as – he’s a technically incredible striker whose goalscoring record only tells part of the story about what he brings to the team.
It’s hard to communicate just how good a player he actually is. Players thriving after the step up from Celtic is no new phenomenon – just look at Kieran Tierney for that. But of the top players to have spent time at Celtic Park earlier in their career, maybe only Virgil van Dijk performed at Edouard’s level with the same regularity. That’s the kind of talent we’re talking about here.
Leicester have taken one look at that, and his contract status, and moved decisively. It’s that sort of incisive recruitment that has transformed them from relegation fodder into FA Cup winners and a genuine top four contender.
Arsenal, typically, have stuttered, second-guessed themselves, and ultimately missed out on exactly the kind of player they need.
In their predicament, with no European football on the horizon for next season and with their finances looking several shades of grim, they need to sign quality and they need it on the cheap. They also need to start working on a contingency plan for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, who both underwhelmed for much of last season and won’t be around forever.
Edouard, at just £15m, would have satisfied both of those criteria. His availability represents some of the best value for money anywhere in Europe at present, and the argument that he has only done it in Scotland no longer holds up.
Whether they have decided against a move, waited too long to act on it, or simply been told no by Edouard himself, there’s no way around it; Arsenal have dropped the ball.
And with Edouard set to arrive just a hundred miles north at the King Power Stadium, you get the sense they may soon feel the weight of their mistake up close and personal.