Uncertainty around Arsene Wenger hindering Arsenal's present, future
Talk of Thomas Tuchel taking over at Arsenal served a purpose in livening up another dreary international break, but almost as soon as the rumour caught fire, it was being extinguished.
Not long after German magazine Kicker reported on Sunday that the former Borussia Dortmund boss was interested in replacing Arsene Wenger, the story has already been shut down by Sky Sports. It might be a case of one rumour weighed up against another, but the claim that Tuchel would prefer the job of managing the highly-functioning Bayern Munich over the hilariously dysfunctional Arsenal certainly has a ring of truth to it.
In any case, there were further reports that Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain were interested in Tuchel too. Even if they were wide of the mark, they speak to a major problem Arsenal have as they go about trying to plan for life after Wenger.
If Tuchel really was the pick of the Arsenal board then they would have been going into battle with a sizeable competitive disadvantage, aside from the far greater resources on offer at clubs with a much more convincing recent pedigree in Europe, all of whom are the reigning champions in their respective countries. Yes, another one on top of all that.
Bayern know they will be appointing a new coach this summer as Jupp Heynckes is only a short-term placeholder. Antonio Conte's departure is all but sealed after constant clashes with the Chelsea hierarchy and a failure to effectively defend the title. PSG's European travails mean Unai Emery is going to be packing his bags too. All of these clubs are clear that a managerial change is coming and it means they can be serious negotiators.
What, then, of Arsenal? The situation is quite different, even if it shouldn't be.
At Arsenal, the board seem quite incapable of wielding any real power and removing a manager well beyond his sell-by date -- only Stan Kroenke has the clout to ask Wenger to go and he has always seemed uninterested by the prospect of doing so. Wenger's recent record, the recurring nature of the problems which continue to afflict the club and the growing alienation of the fan base all make the case for change compelling and yet at a moment when they could be decisive, Arsenal again are stuck in limbo.
While a manager like Tuchel remains on the market, Arsenal, publicly at least, don't seem to be ready to land him. Could Wenger still see out the final season of his contract? It seems eminently possible if Arsenal win their first European trophy since 1994 and, as a happy byproduct, a triumph in the Europa League takes them back into the Champions League. The big decision deferred once again.
It is the same issue Arsenal faced last season. By the spring it was fairly clear that Wenger had to go, but the club dithered and, happily, Wenger masterminded an FA Cup final victory over Chelsea -- albeit one which made it politically impossible to sack him. If a decision had been made in advance, maybe you wouldn't have had the same result at Wembley. But maybe you would.
This is demanding a level of decisiveness and conviction which we just simply haven't seen from the powers that be at Arsenal. There were rumours that Pep Guardiola would have been interested in replacing Wenger in 2016 before deciding to revolutionise Manchester City -- it was the same summer that Chelsea brought in Conte, who immediately claimed the Premier League title amid a whirlwind of fresh ideas and tactical innovation.
Thanks to Wenger's zombie reign, Arsenal lack the mobility or flexibility to pull off a managerial coup of this kind, and Tuchel is just the latest example.
When he comes to assess his options, and knows that Bayern, Chelsea and PSG are all ready and waiting, an uncertain Arsenal will be far down that list. If, say, Diego Simeone decides he's had enough at Atletico Madrid, there's at least two clubs ready to sign him up at a moment's notice.
Wenger's desperation to cling to power isn't just holding Arsenal back now, it's making the whole process of replacing him that much trickier too. In the absence of any decisive leadership from above, it's not a problem that is going to go away any time soon.
Tom is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport