This post has the potential to turn into a bit of a rant as it seems that a lot of people are always reading too much into these rumours. Arsenal understandably don’t want transfer dealings done in the public eye, so it is hard to truly know what is going on until it is actually announced. Look at the Eduardo transfer, no-one had a clue and then suddenly he was an Arsenal player.
In terms of leaving the club, the players most fans would like to see shown the door are yet to show signs of going. Buyers for Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson and Manuel Almunia seemingly can’t be found. There has also been no indication of the likes of Tomas Rosicky and Sebastien Squillaci going anywhere. Two players that fans would least like to see go, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, depending on what you read, are on the verge of moves away. Both of these protracted transfers are really annoying me in different ways.
The Fabregas-to-Barcelona saga has been on-going for the past few years, and has unsurprisingly resurfaced in this close-season. Reports said Barcelona have bid less than they did last season, with others saying Arsenal have loosened their stance on selling Cesc. However it seems to me that not much has changed. If Barcelona offer the right amount, then Fabregas will return to them. Judging by some of the transfers done back in January (i.e Torres for £50m and Carroll for £35m), Arsenal have to hold out for £40m+ for our captain. Should reports of Real Madrid offering £45m be true, then that’s the sort of mark Barcelona should be matching. Whatever people say about his mental state and how he might be affected if he doesn’t go back this summer, as a club, Arsenal must not just allow that to dictate the price of his transfer. On his day, he is one of the best midfielders in the world, and his transfer fee has to reflect that.
The seeming arrogance of Barcelona about re-signing Fabregas is the most annoying part of his potential move. They do play the best football in the game and were deserved European champions, but they can’t just assume clubs will allow them to sign players below their market value because everyone speaks so highly of them as a club. There has been less of it this summer, but last summer the way their players spoke out in the media about Fabregas was disrespectful to Arsenal. It made the victory over them in February all the sweeter. As it stands, Cesc is an Arsenal player, and the Arsenal captain. The longer that remains the truth, the longer this saga will continue as Barcelona won’t get bored of trying to sign him. If he does go, the fee has to be right, and has to be re-invested in the squad.
Samir Nasri is a very different case to Fabregas. If he definitely isn’t going to sign a new contract, he could leave Arsenal on a free transfer next summer, which would mean we lose out on a significant amount of money for a good player. However, we don’t want to lose him to other title rivals with reports suggesting Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are all interested in the Frenchman.
Nasri hasn’t helped his popularity with Arsenal fans with quotes that emerged in the media today. He spoke of wanting to win titles and the Ballon D’Or, but if he wanted to win titles so badly, he could have contributed some more in the title run-in. It isn’t just Nasri, other Arsenal players have said they need to leave to win things. They could have won things for Arsenal had they performed themselves. I get the sense that some players are avoiding responsibility for failures and think moving will guarantee them success. A bit of loyalty and harder work could be all that is needed, instead of blaming others. Football is a team game, but individual players need to consider what they could have done better, or if they could have done more, in order to help the team.
Nasri definitely had a good season, but went missing during the run-in. There was no Freddie Ljungberg or Robert Pires-like inspiration from him when we needed players to step up and take responsibility at key moments. The only one to do so was Robin van Persie. Before blaming others and wanting to leave, I think players should look at themselves and show a bit of loyalty to the club that gave them the chance to develop at a high level. Should Nasri do that, it would go a long way to endearing himself to Arsenal fans and helping us next season.
The dilemma for Arsenal if Nasri really doesn’t want to sign a contract is that, financially, we’ll probably get the best deal from a title rival. No Arsenal fan would want to see him playing against us next season in the Premier League, so we’d prefer to see him sold to a team outside England. Hopefully before Arsene Wenger has to make a decision about selling Nasri, he’ll have been able to persuade him that it’s worth staying at Arsenal.
One player that seems likely to leave is Gael Clichy. He’s been a good servant to the club, but he hasn’t been the same player since conceding a last minute penalty at Birmingham in 2008. Lapses in concentration have become more regular, but he has still been one of the best left backs in the Premier League over the last few seasons. I’m sure most Arsenal fans will wish him the best for the future, but, my fear for him if he joins Manchester City is that he’ll play regularly for a season, but then be replaced by someone more expensive before slowly disappearing from view. The same could apply to Nasri if he goes there. Our last sales to City are examples of this, with Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor, albeit for differing reasons, not prominent in the Manchester City picture.
With Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy, a lot of fans appear to have already assumed that they’ve left. However, I might be being overly optimistic here, there are no guarantees we won’t be seeing them in Arsenal shirts next season. All three wouldn’t automatically be in the first XI of the clubs they’re supposed to be going to so wouldn’t play as much football as they would at Arsenal. The Clichy deal seems the most likely, but should Fabregas and Nasri realise they won’t actually play regularly and if Arsene Wenger shows some resilience by rejecting bids, there is a chance, admittedly a small one, that they’ll still be at the Emirates next season. Until deals are actually done, the situation isn’t as disastrous as the media are making it out to be at Arsenal.
There are other rumours about other players leaving, but I’d be very surprised to see the likes of van Persie and Walcott not at Arsenal next season. To match the number of rumours about players leaving, there are loads of rumours around about players joining Arsenal.
Depending on what you read, any number from Gervinho, Gary Cahill, Chris Samba, Ricardo Alvarez, Stewart Downing, Scott Dann, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Juan Mata, Emiliano Viviano, Phil Jagielka, Peter Odemwingie, Adel Taarabt, Scott Parker, Jermain Defoe, Eden Hazard and even John O’Shea could be coming to Arsenal before the end of August. There will undoubtedly be more players linked with Arsenal should sales of players be completed.
It’s hard to do too much analysis on any of these players, as most stories surrounding them seem to be speculation. Gervinho appears to be the most likely to join the club after his quotes in the press last week, and hopefully he‘ll be joined by a centre back. With Clichy possibly going, a left back will also be needed as Kieran Gibbs will be good enough to replace the Frenchman in a couple of years, but is too injury prone at the moment and needs more experience.
Transfer activity leads me to Arsene Wenger. I’m not going to mark him like I did with the players in my end of season posts, because at the moment, Arsenal fans need to trust the manager. We need to trust that he’ll make the right decisions in the transfer market and bring in the right players to move the club forward. After the past few seasons, Arsenal can’t afford to start the campaign with a weaker squad than last season, and that is a possibility with the rumoured departures.
Obviously Wenger didn’t get the best out of his players for the whole of last season. On the occasions that did happen, we looked like potential world beaters, see the victory over Barcelona. However the capitulation at the end of the season was unacceptable, and the need to spend money is clear. As Arsenal fans, most of us have taken pride in the way Arsene Wenger has gone about his transfer dealings in the recent years in terms of staying near the top without spending loads. Unfortunately, the reality of modern football is that money has to be spent to keep pace with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. Wenger has the chance to do so this summer ahead of the UEFA financial fair play rules.
Arsene Wenger was the first to admit the failure last season was his fault, it just remains to be seen if he can right the wrongs in the squad ahead of the season. It’s a shame he hasn’t completed any deals yet ahead of pre-season training or the tour to Asia. With a week to go before the players jet off to the Far East, it’ll be interesting to see who is and, arguably more importantly, isn’t on that plane. If he can complete a few transfers before the tour, it’ll give new players enough time to integrate into the squad ahead of the season.
For the moment, I still trust Arsene Wenger. However, should players that leave not be adequately replaced, and weak areas of the squad not be improved before the season starts, I’m sure a lot of fans will join me in questioning the manager. Wenger has so far not jumped on the rumour rollercoaster of silly season, which could be a good thing. Hopefully Wenger has quietly got a transfer coup lined up as we’ve seen in the past. With pre-season about to start, it promises to be an interesting few weeks for Arsenal fans as we hope the Emirates Stadium doors start to open for new players, but allow certain ones out and slam shut in the faces of others trying to escape.
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