Welcome to the Hleb-go-round.
Yesterday Real Madrid confirmed their interest with manager Bernd Schuster saying he was ‘surprised’ the player was available. This morning Sport, the Catalan daily, is reporting that Txiki Begiristain, Barcelona’s sporting director, flew to Germany yesterday to meet with Hleb.
Begiristain apparently told Hleb that Guardiola really wanted him at Barcelona. Hleb told Begiristain that he had other offers but he was ready to listen to Barcelona and now, it seems, there’s a verbal agreement between the player and the club. The next step, reports the newspaper, is for Barcelona to open negotiations with Arsenal. Now, I’m pretty sure the procedure was that you had to ask the selling club for permission to speak to the player, but then this is Spain, and the reality is that this is the way transfers are negotiated.
A club will find out if they can reach an agreement with the player then go to the club. This report suggests that Barcelona will play hard-ball with Arsenal and will not pay any more than €20m for Hleb. Honestly, if they offer €20m for him that’s a great bit of business. And I wonder if a Guardiola managed Barcelona might suit Hleb better than a Mourinho managed Inter. Anyway, we’ll see what happens but on the same day that United are reporting Real to FIFA for the way they’ve shamelessly pursued Ronaldo it just shows you the same thing is happening to us, although I think we’d be much more annoyed about it if it were someone like Cesc and not Hleb.
Speaking of Cesc the Telegraph says the club are bracing themselves for tough contract negotiations with the young Spaniard. As Arseblog told you last month his new agent is Darren Dein and there is certainly a level of acrimony between the club and the Dein family. We all know what Cesc does for us, how good a player he is, we don’t necessarily need reminding in a newspaper article which does little but make fans anxious. I don’t think there’ll be any problems with any negotiations over Cesc. And, apropos of nothing, the young man is set to wear number 10 for Spain in Euro2008.
There’s a story about Nasri and his agent confirming he’s leaving Marseille and is interested in a move to Arsenal. Not much point in linking to it though, if Nasri doesn’t sign for Arsenal I will eat my very hat.*
Marco van Basten says he won’t be risking Robin van Persie in a warm up game as he needs more time to recuperate from his thigh injury. The words risk, recuperate and injury should just be tacked onto Robin’s name at this stage.
“What a goal from Robin van Recuperate!”
What’s interesting is van Basten’s view of Robin as a ‘special player’. There’s no question he’s capable of incredible stuff at times but perhaps van Basten sees something of himself in the Arsenal man, his career having been cut criminally short by injury.
Johann Djourou says he’d prefer to play in midfield than at centre-half, saying a Makalele style holding position is his preferred place on the field. He’s very highly rated inside the club, remember Wenger years ago refusing to name him for fear he might be poached, and there does seem to be a gap in the centre of the park with Flamini and Diarra gone and many suggesting Gilberto + Cesc would be a backwards step. I can’t see it happening though. Not yet anyway. But who knows? Look at the way Flamini took his chance during pre-season and the early part of last season. Remember Kolo’s transition to centre-half was founded on some great pre-season performances so you never know.
We’ve got a new assistant physio – Norwich City’s Neal Reynolds is set to join the club.
Right, that’s your lot. Till tomorrow.
*hat is made from marzipan