Depending on how gullible you are, we’ve agreed personal terms with David Raya, and, if past is precedent, that means we’ve already signed him. That is, after all, the lesson learnt from the Declan Rice saga, which did not at all drag on interminably before finally arriving at its conclusion. I’m sure that, by the time you read this, Raya will have not only signed a contract with Arsenal but will also have recorded several clean sheets whilst pipping Ramsdale and establishing himself as an Arsenal legend. Too soon? Too bad. Whatever grist is offered to the rumour-mill, Raya won’t be available to face AS Monaco.

This is a club that has been quite good at selling on to others, having sold Tchouaméni to Real Madrid for £75m, Badiashile to Chelsea for £35m, Tielemans to Leicester for £40m, Mbappé to PSG for £175m, Lemar to Atleti for £70m, Fabinho to Liverpool for £40m, and Mendy and Silva to Man City for £50m and £45m respectively. That’s just in the last four years. If only we could sell our own players on those fees. Well, we could, I suppose, but to do so would see us tread the same waters as, say, Brighton or Southampton. Then again, we could consider swimming (or would it be chumming?) with the likes of Chelsea or Liverpool, selling anyone and everyone off to Saudi Arabia to clear the wage-bill of players no longer wanted, no matter how dependable or loyal they may have been.

We’ve had a few brushes with Monaco’s want-aways, having been linked to Lemar for a fee even more ridiculous than that £70m that Atleti paid. He’s been good for them, but it would be hard to argue that he’s been better for them than Partey, signed for a £45m fee, has been for us. We’d flirted a bit with Tielemans only to pass, which is more than fine by me considering how diffident he’s been at the best of times for a side that struggled to stave off relegation. He’s not a fighter, or at least doesn’t come across as one.

It’s a good thing that Arsenal doesn’t share any other historical connection to Monaco. Not a single one. I can’t think of anyone who once worked at or for Monaco at any level who had any influence on this club whatsoever.

Having said all of that, this is our last preseason friendly before we draw swords against Man City in the Community Shield on Sunday. Monaco are a young, vibrant side. While it might be imprudent to call them impudent, we’d do well to be wary of the risk they pose going forward. Continuing a trend, they did just sell Axel Disasi, a centre-back, to Chelsea for a fee reported at £40m. Considering Disasi’s defensive prowess and skill getting up the pitch, that’s a loss akin to us losing Saliba.

Whatever the stakes may be here, I’d expect Arteta to reduce the tinkering, and we may see an XI that closely foreshadows what he wants to see going forward. Will it be Timber or White at RB? Martinelli or Trossard at LW? Havertz or Smith Rowe at the #8? Who knows at this point? Arteta has talked about making us less-predictable from the off and about substitutions as “impactors”. With this last preseason friendly, we may get a glimpse into just what he means on both fronts now that he has a squad forged in the Platonic ideal.

Buckle up, kids. We’re in for a wild ride. Okay, so, um, it doesn’t quite start for real against Monaco (should I have added a to “real” to make it edgier?), but we’re edging ever closer to the 2023-24 campaign. Let’s hope the lads do make mincemeat of Monaco.

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