So there’s football today and with football comes press conferences and with press conferences we get stories.
We’ll start with Cesc who won’t be playing this weekend because of the speculation/situation over his future. This time last year Arsene was defiant, refusing to countenance the sale of his captain. This time around, even though Cesc has a contract until 2015, it’s all very different.
I always say he is torn between two loves – the club where he has been educated as a very young boy and the club where he has been educated from 16 onwards and he has been given a chance. I personally can understand it – but of course we want to be certain about his complete commitment.
He is not settled. I think he’s in a moment when he thinks about it and it is a big concern.
None of which is really surprising news to any of us. That the club’s stance seems to have changed so much is though. And with Barcelona yet to make a bid which comes close to matching the talent of the player the question was asked of Arsene if we’d be prepared to let him go for a lower price just go get things sorted. He said:
Frankly again I don’t know because that would mean that anybody who just wants to leave we will have to let him go – and for any price. We have a responsibility towards our club and I have that responsibility to sell the players at a decent price. Or I take money away from my club.
Now, that’s curious to me. In the past I don’t think Arsene would have considered that idea for even second, he’d have been much more emphatic, but this is a different Arsene. This is an Arsene who is eschewing £20m for a player in the final year of his contract, something he would never have done before. This is an Arsene who is not as in control of both situations as he would like and is, in my opinion, struggling to make the best of them.
I think last season he might have convinced Cesc to stay with logic, common sense and a bit of the old Arsene persuasiveness which has worked so well in the past. Tug on the heart strings, the loyalty, and whatever anyone might say there is no doubt that Cesc has a genuine and very real affection for Arsenal Football Club. I think Arsene said ‘Come on, we can win something this year, it’ll be great!’, and I think Cesc believed him. I don’t think there was ever any kind of ‘one more year’ agreement that people speculate on.
Arsene is an intelligent man, he wouldn’t give a player as important as Cesc a get-out clause, not with four years left on his contract. It just doesn’t make sense on any level. Yet after another year in which the team’s long-term weaknesses came back to haunt us I think Cesc decided it was time. And Arsene, and the board, have very obviously been open to letting him go. That the situation exists at all is down to Cesc wanting to go, why Cesc wants to go is a whole other debate, but that it’s still ongoing really isn’t the fault of the player. Primarily the issue is with Barcelona, of course, who have singularly failed to demonstrate they want Cesc enough.
They talk him down, they say he’s their ‘second choice’, they make pitiful bids, they haggle over the price of two youngsters we’ve signed quite legally, they have their players talk and talk and talk in public, they make other signings ahead of Cesc when everyone knows they have a limited budget, and all the while they know fine well what it would take to sign him. It’s unthinkable that if Arsenal have been receptive to bids for Cesc – in a way they weren’t last year – that they haven’t given Barcelona a price. The bottom line is Barcelona refuse to pay that price.
However, while most of the blame can be pointed at them, maybe our willingness to tolerate their shite has been a factor too. Could we have been more decisive? Should we have given them a deadline long before now? Why couldn’t we, knowing we have a player on a contract until 2015, been much more firm when dealing with this? I know it’s not quite as simple as that and negotiations are often long and drawn out, but we have what they want, therefore we call the shots. Arsene says it’s got to be sorted out soon, he’s right, but it should have been sorted out long before now. We’ve come across as a bit weak chinned when dealing with this, in my opinion.
As for the Nasri situation, Wenger said:
Samir loves the Club. My wish is that Nasri stays. I’m convinced he is going to stay at Arsenal.
I don’t even know where to start with that. From everything we’re hearing the best we can expect from Nasri is that he plays well in his final year and then leaves on a Bosman. We lose the £13.5m we paid for him, we lose the £20m+ on offer from Man City which could be re-invested in the squad this summer (I know, hahaha), and I just cannot get my head around it at all. This is a very different Arsene, all right. Anyway, time will tell.
As for players coming in Wenger said our business would be done ‘sooner rather than later’ which is good news considering there are just two weeks before our first league game of the season. He refused to be drawn when the names of Jagielka and Mata were put to him, saying he couldn’t talk about players under contract with other clubs, which is fair enough. Let’s hope things are being worked on and that the new arrivals aren’t long in being announced.
In other news, SZCZ says the team have been working hard on the training ground this summer and trying to sort out the weakeness we have with set-pieces. He says:
Yes, we have been working on it, and I believe it’s working. I genuinely believe it’s going to get much better this season. I see no reason why we should concede goals from set-pieces.
Gotta love how sure is he is about that! The weekend’s football should give us a better idea of what they’ve been working on, but it’s a positive thing to hear they have been focused on ridding our game of such a costly achilles heel.
AW says Henri Lansbury has the talent to play for Arsenal and has to be given a chance. Which would make you ask why Lansbury played last night for the reserves and wasn’t included in the Emirates Cup squad for the weekend. Perhaps he might feature on Sunday but it seems odd not to give him a real chance against proper opposition. It was during pre-season last summer that Arsene decided Jack Wilshere was ready – instead of sending him out on loan again he integrated him into the first team. At the very least Lansbury deserves that kind of a chance, in my opinion. I think if he fails to feature in the Emirates Cup we’ll know his future lies elsewhere.
Finally for today, Thierry Henry reckons Gervinho’s a good ‘un, and Thierry knows a thing or two about scoring goals and what it takes to make it at Arsenal. Let’s hope he’s on the money here.
Kick off later on, as Arsenal play Boca Juniors, is 4.20pm.