A slow start

Morning to you,

another week begins with much on the horizon but little concrete info to kick us off. There’s the much vaunted signing of Gervinho, a possible defensive arrival, or two, the manager’s transfer budget apparently boosted by some property dealing, and the inevitable departures/stayings of one or two.

The transfer market, generally speaking, seems a bit quiet at the moment. As many players as we might have coming in we’ve also got going out but as yet there’s been little interest in these guys. Whether clubs are waiting for July 1st to start things moving I just don’t know, but from an Arsenal point of view there’s still plenty to get done before the players return for pre-season in early July.

A sell-on clause is bumping up the price of Christopher Samba, according to the Mail. Blackburn now want £12m for him. Those clauses are fun though. Arsenal have reaped considerable rewards from them down the years, especially in the last few seasons. Diarra going from Portsmouth to Real Madrid brought in nearly £5m, we’ve recently received a lump of cash for the Toure/Adebayor deals due to City’s CL qualification, while the most incredible one of all was the fact we got the guts of £7.5m when Sp*rs bought the Rat Faced Chav from Blackburn a few seasons ago.

It’s interesting that when people talk about the price of English players, which we all know are through the roof, they can be justified by saying they retain a sell-on value. How much would Sp*rs get for Bentley now, I wonder? A player who couldn’t get a game for relegated Birmingham when he went on loan there and whose ego and hubris has derailed what was a promising career. Nowhere near the £15m+ they paid for him, that’s for sure.

And speaking of English players, there was obviously a lot of talk about Joey Barton yesterday. To be honest, I really can’t imagine there’s any truth to this at all – although as we did sign Sylvester I rule nothing out 100% – but it sparked plenty of debate as to his suitability for Arsenal.

I think he’s a good player, quite underrated really, but a) I’m not sure he’s the kind of player we need at the moment and b) I think he’s got way too much baggage to ever considering signing. Now, I’m all for redemption and people deserve chances to leave their past behind them. We’ve had our ‘problem’ players, Adams, Merson, the drinkers of the past, but the point with them is that they were our players, and were our players from the start. We defended them as such.

Those who say Barton has changed and matured might well be right. It seems like quite a while since he was last involved in serious violence off the pitch, or in jail, which is a good thing, I suppose, but this incident with Morten Gamst Pedersen happened just last season and is evidence that Barton’s fuse is as short as ever.

To those who would say we need a bit more nastiness in the team, I’d agree. I think we could certainly be more combative, a bit more physical at times, but you can have that without signing a sociopathic thug. It’s not being holier-than-thou, or overly moralistic, as I said what players get up to off the field makes no difference to me whatsoever, but you cannot always separate what a player does on the pitch from what he does or says off it. The same as in any walk of life.

We’re not whiter than white, we’ve had our issues in the past and will do so again in the future, but personally I would find it impossible to support Barton if he signed. It’d be like signing a dangerous dog, with a history of biting children in the face then eating the face before going off and biting another face. And those who would overlook that and justify it as a purely footballing decision are wide of the mark, in my opinion.

There’s nothing new from Spain re: Cesc, one of the papers suggest there’s a limit of July 5th but this is just madey-up nonsense. The bottom line is that the transfer window is open until August 31st and between now and then anything can happen. All we can hope for is that whatever happens is definitive and that it happens soon, because clearly this situation, above all others, has a massive bearing on the rest of what we do this summer.

If he stays, brilliant. We’ve got one of the best midfielders in the world at our disposal. A player who scores goals and makes goals, and will be coming into the new season on the back of a proper summer rest, something he hasn’t had since the summer of 2007, which is quite remarkable when you think about it.

If he goes, then a replacement is needed. I know we have Ramsey and Wilshere, but I’m not sure either of them are quite ready to step into that role and be as influential and important as Cesc is. We may have Nasri but while he’s got an eye for goal I don’t think he’s creative enough to fill that gap. Here’s a stat from OptaJoe:

60 – Cesc Fabregas has more assists in top 5 leagues in last 5 seasons than any other player, ahead of Dani Alves, Messi & Xavi. Happy.

He also has nearly 50 goals in that time so there’s a big gap to fill should he depart. And if that’s the case then I think the club need to go out and spend the money received from Barcelona on a player who can fill it. Who that player might be is anybody’s guess but what’s clear is that we’ve got to get this sorted one way or the other, as soon as possible.

Right, that’s yer lot for this Monday morning. A slow start to the week but hopefully the pace will pick as we go along.

Till tomorrow.