july 31st

I watched last night’s friendly with River Plate hoping to see some decent football from Arsenal’s kids. Sadly the rigorous training they’d been through all week, coupled with River’s jet-lag made the 0-0 draw duller than a Tom Hanks film which has Phil Collins as a guest star.

There were two triallists from the Ivory Coast who both looked OK, but didn’t really catch the eye. Cesc looked a very clever little player with a very minging haircut. Senderos looked good at the back and new keeper Almunia looked quite composed too, although he had very little to do. Got my first look at Robin van Persie too. A couple of long shots aside he, like everyone, had little impact on the game, but there’s definitely a touch of class about him. We’re likely to see more senior players take part in Sunday’s game against Ajax.

Good news regarding Sol Campbell. He’s likely to sign a new four year deal with the club and negotiations are at an advanced stage. According to DD “We have moved significantly closer to agreeing a new deal with Sol. It looks a lot brighter.”

No more news on the other thing. Again we’re just waiting. Anyway, that’ll do for today. Still not 100%, as my toilet bowl will testifty.

july 30th

Sorry for the delay in today’s blog, but I’m sick and spent most of the night shivering and chattering despite it being hotter than Satan’s ringpiece here at the moment.

Kanu has joined West Brom. And that’s it.

Till tomorrow.

july 29th

Well, after the deafening silence from the captain, it’s nice to hear one of our other midfielder’s who’s been linked with a move away from the club come out and say his piece. Edu and Barcelona have been mentioned together in recent weeks, but our smiley Brazilian is happy at Arsenal and wants to stay. On his own official website he says “A lot of people know that my contract with Arsenal ends in January 2005, so some offers are arriving and more will arrive. But I want to confirm that I'm happy at Arsenal, nicely settled-in, they're a great club and my thoughts are on staying."

Which is good to hear and let's hope the club sort him with the contract he deserves. He also mentions that he won’t be back at the club until August 15th as Arsene Wenger wants him to get a good rest after his Copa American exploits, in which he single-handedly won the tournament for his country.

The boss spoke last night about Patrick Vieira after our 2-0 win over Sturm Graz (goals from Reyes and Jeffers). He’s a very canny man is our manager, his comments put some amount of pressure on Vieira who now knows that if he decides to leave he’s going to make his manager, someone he respects hugely, look a bit foolish. AW said “I am confident he will stay at Arsenal. I have repeated that before many times. I cannot do much more."

David Seaman is widely being reported as saying he doesn’t think Vieira will leave, but amongst the article are a couple of quotes which haven’t been picked up. Spunky says “Maybe after eight years he thinks it’s time for a new challenge. Patrick’s a big influence on the team, maybe not as big as he likes to think, but he is an important member of the Arsenal team.”

Vieira’s agent yesterday denied that personal terms had been agreed with Madrid. Well, what else could he say? Madrid too took a step back for fear of making their tapping too obvious. As it stands we’re still none the wiser to the intentions of our captain and the whole thing drags on and on like some kind of Tom Hanks movie.

Once again there’s not much else happening. As tedious and irritating as this Vieira thing has been, at least it’s helped fill the column inches.

july 28th

Well, as I’m sure you’re all aware now lots of papers and press agencies are reporting that Patrick Vieira has agreed personal terms with Real Madrid and the only thing left now is for the two clubs to agree a fee. This story first appeared in Marca, which some people have written off as the Spanish equivalent of The Sun or The Mirror.

Not quite true, I’m afraid. While there’s always going to be a bit of sensationalism and ...erm....artistic licence involved when you’re publishing a football paper 7 days a week, you have to remember that Madrid will actively use Marca to run stories they feel will be beneficial to the club, and the journalists at the Spanish football dailies have far greater access to the club, players and staff than any newspaper here would have.

I’m not saying what Marca is reporting is true, I’m just saying it’s wrong to dismiss it so quickly. Plus players agreeing terms before a move is common practice nowadays.

Anyway, it seems Madrid have let Vieira’s people know what’s on offer and they’ve received a thumbs-up from the Vieira camp. Emilio Butragueño, sporting director of Madrid, said “Patrick Vieira is a very interesting and important player for us and for our club. Such a process is a long one but I believe that this coming week will be a significant one with regard to our move for him."

So there you go, make of it what you will, but hopefully we’ll reach some kind of conclusion to this thing at some stage in the next few days. Marca are saying a deal could go through today, while Steve Stammers in the Standard suggest Arsenal will ask Vieira to make his position clear once and for all in a meeting today.

Unsurprisingly there’s little else of much interest. Ipswich Town are interested in taking Justin Hoyte on loan for the season. I suppose if this deal goes through we can infer that there’s is definitely a right back coming to the club, and Newcastle’s bid for Portugal’s Miguel seems to put an end to their interest in Trabelsi, so we’ll see what happens there.

That’s it. More when it happens.

july 27th

We’ll start this morning with injury news. We haven’t had any of that for a long time, so it’s at least a bit different. Sol Campbell is likely to miss the rest of the Austrian tour with a recurrence of the achilles injury that troubled him during Euro 2004 and at times last season. Time for Senderos to show what he’s made of, and Justin Hoyte is being used at centre-half on the tour, so if Cygan leaves he might be involved a bit as well.

The Guardian reports that we’re after Willy Sagnol, the Bayern Munich and France right back. You might remember him bleating during the year that Arsene Wenger was actively looking to replace Lauren, so he’s obviously a discreet and well intentioned chap. They also say that this signing is more likely to placate Vieira who was, in their words, ‘underwhelmed’ at the idea of Trabelsi being our major summer signing. Quite how he’d be underwhelmed at signing one of the best right backs in the game is beyond me, and I’m flummoxed further that bringing in a mouthy, average French player would be more acceptable. I suspect this is more shit stirring by the press.

It appears the Trabelsi deal has broken down over money with Arsenal not willing to treble his €500,000 salary that he earned at Ajax. Obviously we don’t know exactly what the problem is, but €1,500,000 is hardly top dollar. Could that fact his agent is the same as Kanu’s be any reason for the squabbling over cash? Anyway, he can go to Newcastle and earn more money if that’s what he’s into. I trust AW and Dein to do a deal that’s right for the club, and not to let a good deal pass by over something trivial.

Not much else happening really. It was sad to see the retirement of Marc Overmars yesterday. He’s had knee troubles throughout his career, but he picked up a bad injury not long into his Barcelona career from which he never properly recovered. He’ll be well remembered by Arsenal fans, especially for that goal at Old Trafford in the 97-98 season. Best of luck, Marc.

That’s it. Lots of men to see about dogs today. Not Diamond Dogs though.

july 26th

“I have said it 100 times, there is nothing to talk about. He will not go to Real Madrid. If that was true it would have happened a long time ago.” - Arsene Wenger when asked about Patrick Vieira.

“I cannot speak. This is not the right moment. I cannot talk about Real Madrid. Leave me. Don't do this." - Patrick Vieira when asked by a Spanish reporter about his future.

Obviously the club hold most of the aces. Vieira still has three years of his contract to run, and Arsenal don’t have to accept any kind of bid if they don’t want to. The problem then is you’ve got a player who’s going to be unhappy at the club. Not just any player either, the captain. This whole thing gets more tiresome by the day. Paddy had a chance to say he wanted to stay at Arsenal, and he didn’t take it. Does he really need to say ‘I want to go to Madrid’ now?

The Sun is reporting that Luis Figo has told his team-mates at Madrid that Vieira will be joining them. You might remember reports that Figo’s agent was sent as an intermediary to help broker the deal, and it seems his people have spoken to Vieira’s people and now Figo is letting el gato out of the bolsa by telling his Merengue chums during pre-season training.

Away from the whole Vieira saga it was good news for Edu as Brazil won the Copa American after a penalty shoot-out against old rivals Argentina. Our man scored one of the penalties and here’s hoping he gets a well earned rest before coming back to join up with the squad. Arsene Wenger says there’s still a ‘chance’ of the Trabelsi deal going through. It seems to be an issue over the length of the contract and the boss has described the situation as ‘disappointing’. He did confirm we’re looking for a right back though, which casts more doubt over the future of Lauren as we mentioned the other day. It looks more probable that he’ll move back to Spain.

That’s about it. No doubt we’ll get more during the day and if anything big happens I’ll update here. How was your weekened then?

july 25th

Oh no. Not only is Patrick Vieira going to sign for Real Madrid, but now it seems Sol Campbell is going too. Not only that, Madrid want Vieira to convince Campbell to sign for them. They say Sol is dismayed at having to take pay cut, which isn’t really a pay cut. It’s all go in today’s truth searching edition of the News of the World.

Arsenal played the world famous Grazer AK last night and came away with a 2-1 win, the goals coming from Bergkamp and van Persie. After the game Arsene Wenger revealed there was a problem with the signing of Hatem Trabelsi, which is a bit of a shame. The boss said “It looks like it is a little problematic which is disappointing. There are discussions over the contract and at the moment we cannot resolve that."

With that deal hitting a snag we have given a trial to a young Egyptian full back called Fathi. Apparently he’s got six tiny brothers who could do the business as well and we could see Tubhi and Lardhi at the club next week.

Talking about Patrick Vieira he said “There have been no bids I can deny that categorically. Every day there is speculation coming out and there is not only Patrick in the team and we have to keep our energy for all the players. I'll talk to him tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.”

So we’re still none the wiser, we still haven’t heard anything from Vieira himself, and this most tedious and irritating of stories chugs on for another week. Off tennising. Later.

july 24th

We might as well start with Vieira watch: The latest info I have is that he’s not expected to travel to the Austrian training camp, meaning a move is more probable. The papers and football sites this morning are full of David Beckham’s pleas to Vieira to join him at Real Madrid. Myles reckons this means Vieira won’t be leaving and will stay another season then leave ‘in style’ with Arsene Wenger’s blessing.

Not sure about the ‘in style’ bit, I have to say. There are plenty of Arsenal fans at the end of their tether with this whole business now. A few words from the captain would probably be in order now, whatever he might have to say.

A brief round-up of other stories, which is just about all my hangover will allow. Maniche's agent reveals that Arsenal have opened talks with Porto about the midfielder. He says "I can confirm the interest of Arsenal, given that negotiations have already begun with the club."

The Sun says Trabelsi has joined, Ajax have said more or less the same thing, and we’re just waiting for Arsenal to confirm the transfer now. Youngsters Olafur-Ingi Skulason and Quincy Owusu-Abeye could be on their way for Beveren for the season, which would make my sub-editor happy if I had one. Which I don’t. Good luck to them there. And that’s about it.

Finally, you’ll be glad to know that Leopold has returned from Dakar, where he goes every year. You can check out his latest installment on the real ANR.

Time to soak my head. It’s roasting here and I’m sweating beer.

july 23rd

A busy day yesterday for Arsenal as we completed the signing of Marseille midfielder Mathieu Flamini. I have to say this is a signing that caught everyone by surprise, his is not a name you’d have linked with Arsenal and to be honest I’d never heard of the guy until the day before yesterday. Despite being a free agent Arsenal will pay £1.5m because he’s under 23 years of age. It remains to be seen if he’s an inspired Vieira style cheapo signing, or a Malzariffic gamble. The latest player to be linked because of Vieira’s impending departure is Portugal and Porto’s special, and special looking, Maniche. He impressed everyone in Euro 2004, and he’d be top of many people’s wish lists.

As Arseblog told you the other day, Ray Parlour has left to join Boro. He’s really the last of the old school and it’s sad to see him go, even if his role in the side has been more peripheral over the last couple of seasons. Best of luck up there, Ray. Don’t breathe too deeply.

There’s still been no official confirmation of the Trabelsi signing, although Arseweb is reporting that the Dutch press are reporting that it’s all been done and dusted. With his arrival, might we be waving ‘Adios’ to Lauren as he makes his way back to Spain? Watch this space.

Bob Wilson has been critical of Arsene Wenger for signing Spanish keeper Manuel Aluminium making homegrown Stuart Taylor effectively third choice, and for sending Graham Stack out on loan. The way I see it Taylor is always injured, but if he can keep his fingers unbroken and his shoulder in its proper place then he’s got a good chance of being number 2 if he works hard and plays well in the reserves. Stack is obviously well thought of and is out on loan to gain valuable experience. I don’t see the problem.

Arsenal’s first friendly on their Austrian/Slovenian trip took place last night and the lads chalked up a 3-2 win over Maribor. Goals from Bergkamp, Aliadiere and Robin van Persie gave us the win. After the game Arsene Wenger spoke about the Vieira situation and made it clear where he feels the problem lies. "I am not upset with Real Madrid because they told us they have never approached the player. But there are a lot of agents who want to make some money and they don't know how. And maybe some people are involved in some sponsorship deals. This is a story that has been created."

More worryingly he said "I have been speaking to Patrick regularly but we have now reached a situation where I cannot do any more."

Apparently sponsors are very keen for Vieira to join Madrid before their tour of Japan. They're becoming more and more a merchandising operation, eh? Anyway, let's just hope sometyhing is sorted out soon and we can all get on with it.

july 22nd

The Vieira situation is really starting to annoy me now.

I know Arsenal fans are split into two camps. Those that believe there’s no smoke without fire, and those that think these Vieira to Madrid stories that surface every year are just the work of the tabloids who have nothing better to do. I’m in the in the no smoke category.

We know for certain that Marc Roger, Vieira’s previous agent, spent the summer of 2002 trying to engineer a move for Patrick to either Real Madrid or Manchester United. While Vieira was on holidays in America Roger fed stories to The Sun about how Vieira wanted to move, how Arsenal lacked ambition, how our summer signings were not deemed good enough by our captain. Furious Arsenal dug in, banned Roger from the training ground and his time as Vieira’s agent was doomed.

Last summer we had similar stories about Madrid before Patrick did us the great favour of signing a new contract and leading us on a magnificent unbeaten season. This summer Euro 2004 was hardly over before Vieira’s PR machine went into action again, and stories of an imminent move to Madrid started hitting the papers.

Now, maybe it’s just bad luck that for three summers running Vieira’s team of agents and PR people have been trying to engineer a move to Madrid, or at least make it look like they’re trying to do that. Last season I’m sure the Madrid rumours were created to provide him with a strong bargaining position when it came to negotiating a new contract. You have to wonder what this years rumours and stories are all about.

Is it because he wants more money from Arsenal or is because he actually wants to go and play for Madrid? Either way his behaviour is now beginning to become a bit of a problem. ‘Hang on a minute’, you say, ‘Paddy hasn’t actually done anything. He hasn’t opened his mouth.’

And therein lies the problem. Vieira’s agent has been talking about Madrid having to contact Arsenal about a move. The usual agent-speak bullshit when we all know fine well he, via one of his and one of Madrid’s intermediaries, is well aware that Madrid want to sign him. His PR people are feeding stories to the papers to keep the story buzzing, and all the while Vieira is silent. We have the locker clearing story, which I know some of you doubt, but I have it from a very good source – as do others – that this is true. We have his team-mates about to head off to Austria tomorrow resigned to the fact that their captain won’t be with them next season, but then I hear tonight that he could well travel to Austria after all.

And all the time the fans are worrying, bickering, sniping, quoting this source and that source. One says he’s going, he’s signed for Madrid for €35m, Sol will be captain next season blah blah blah. The other says he’s staying, he’s been away and hasn’t been able to comment, and anyway it’s all tabloid bullshit so what are you worrying about?

The bottom line in all this is that you have to begin to question Vieira’s commitment to Arsenal football club. If he was 100% committed to Arsenal he would have knocked all this on the head before it started. He must surely realise that the fans suffer these stories, and I do mean suffer. It’s gut gnawing stuff thinking he’s going, then all of a sudden he’s staying. It’s bad once, but three summers in a row is taking the piss a bit. I don’t buy the incommunicado bit either.  If Patrick Vieira was fully committed to Arsenal he could have taken two minutes, just two minutes, to tell his agent or his PR person ‘Release a statement rejecting any Madrid advances. Say that I’m proud to be Arsenal captain and I’ll be around next season’.

Some of you might say ‘Why should he make that kind of statement when he’s said it before and on the end of season DVD blah blah blah?’ I might ask you ‘What would it hurt for him to make that statement if he really wanted to stay?’

If he wants to go to Madrid and play football he should just stand up and say ‘I want to play for Madrid’, and most Arsenal fans would say ‘Ok, thanks for the memories and great performances. Good luck, Paddy.’ - although his agent would probably have a heart attack as he’d most likely not receive the ironically named ‘loyalty bonus’ he’d receive for not requesting a transfer. If he wants to stay at Arsenal he should just say that. Spare us all the hassle.

It’s too easy to pass the blame on all this to Vieira’s agent and his PR team. At the end of the day they’re in his employ and he is responsible for what they do in respect to his career. If he says to his agent ‘Get me a move to Hull City, I want to experience life in a town that smells of dead fish and cat shit ’, and his agent does just that but things work out terribly for him, is that the agent’s fault? No, he’s doing what his client tells him. If they work for him, if they earn their living from him, then ultimately he’s responsible for their actions and their behaviour.

I’m tired of the Vieira story now. I don’t know what to think any more. What I do know is that the manager, Vieira’s team-mates and the fans, us, are having to put it with behaviour and a set of circumstances from the captain of Arsenal Football Club that I don’t think is appropriate for somebody in that position. We’ve got pre-season training ahead, there are younger players that look up to Vieira, there are senior players that surely know what kind of game is being played. He could go to Madrid, he could still stay. Either way it’s not a good situation for Arsenal in my opinion, and it needs to be sorted out once and for all now, because quite honestly I can’t be arsed going through all this again next summer.

In other news Arsene Wenger has said he doesn’t envisage any problems with extending his contract at the club which expires next summer, Martin Keown thinks Vieira will stay, The Sun reports that the deal for Mathieu Flamini is done for a fee of around £1.5m and Ray Parlour will not be amongst the travellers to Austria as he said a sad goodbye to Arsenal yesterday. The final stages of his deal to Boro will be tied up shortly. Edu wants to go play for Barcelona – according to our Brazilian “I’ve known of their interest in me since January. I already play for a great team at Arsenal — but for me Barcelona is a very special club.”

From the relative calm of two weeks ago, it’s turning into quite a summer for Arsenal fans.

july 21st

Back on July 3rd Arseblog told you that Hatem Trabelsi was 99% sure to be an Arsenal player next season. Yesterday those two bastions of truth and righteousness, The Daily Mail and Arsenal Mania, both reported that we’d signed the player for £4m. Naturally we’ll wait for official confirmation, but he’ll be a fine addition to the squad.

There were also some strong rumours about a young Marseille midfielder called Mathieu Flamini, and that two medicals took place yesterday for Arsenal football club, but I haven’t been able to verify that with anyone.

The latest update on the Paddy situation is that the club are doing their best to convince him to stay, and today’s Sun is reporting that Madrid are only willing to offer Arsenal £24m for Vieira, which may see them scupper the deal all for themselves. However, there are reports that Madrid have sent an intermediary to make contact with Vieira to see if he really wants to make the move and that they’ve been in contact with David Dein over the whole thing. But with the lads, and the manager, set to fly off to Austria tomorrow for the now traditional summer training camp things are either going to come to a head very quickly, or we’re going to to have another few days of uncertainty and worry about what’s going to happen.

In other transfer news Martin Keown has joined Leicester City, Sevilla want to sign Edu and Francis Jeffers could make a move to Charlton this week.

That's about all there is at the moment. More if and when it happens.

july 20th

Ok, take this whatever way you want to, but I’m told Ray Parlour will be joining Boro, ending his 103 year association with Arsenal. Not really a surprise given the revelation from his agent, Steve Kuttner (also Vieira’s agent who’s obviously trying to retire early on commission fees this summer), that Arsenal would not be renewing his contract next summer. Ray wants first team football and he’s more likely to get it at the Riverside than at Arsenal next season (provided we don’t lose anyone else, of course).

I have to say I did think about whether or not to go with this story. It’s not confirmed yet, and after the last story I thought it might be best to hold off, but I’m sure you’d rather know about things that don’t necessarily come off than not know about them. So there you go.

AW has said he’s looking to bring in more players this summer. Talking to Arsenal.con he said "There is still a possibility someone will come in soon, one or a maximum of two. There is a big possibility that one player will join us before the season starts."

The likelihood is that the ‘big possibility’ is Hatem Trabelsi. We shall see. The Sun has us linked with Steven Gerrard saying we’re going to tempt him with a £90,000 a week deal. It would be very tempting, but there’s a pretty strict wage structure at Highbury and bringing in the low-browed Scouser on a higher wage than Henry et al is most unlikely, especially after his 'I luv de 'pool, la' speech a couple of weeks ago.

I’m away most of the day flat hunting, so no doubt there’ll be all kinds of exclusives and stories breaking all over the place. Keep your eyes on the news ticker.

july 19th

A much less lengthy blog this morning. Firstly, thanks for all your mails yesterday. I have done my best to reply to them all, so forgive me if I’ve missed one or two.

Dennis Bergkamp has joined the voices asking Vieira to stay the club. He says “It would be such a pity if he left. Obviously we want him to stay. You don't want to see your best players leave."

The Mirror suggest Vieira is going to hand in a transfer request, and that’s about all they say. Arsenal are off to Austria later this week (with two Ivorian trialists) and a big challenge will be to get Vieira to go on this pre-season trip. If the club can convince him to go, and they are doing their utmost, then there’s a chance he’ll stay. Whether he goes or not will be an decent indication of what’s going to happen.

I haven’t heard anything more, but rest assured the moment I have any information that I can share I’ll post it here.

Juventus are set to make a bid for Sol Campbell according to The Italian Press according to the Guardian. Sol is currently in talks over a new deal at Arsenal, so fingers Xed something gets sorted out soon.

So how was your weekend then? Beer helps you forget football (amongst other things).

july 18th

I’ve posted something nearly every single day on this blog since Feb 27th 2002. There were a couple of short periods when I was unable to post for various reasons, but I estimate there’s been over 700 different posts on Arseblog.

Those of you that have been reading for a while will know the deal. Arsenal news, stories and opinions. My opinions. I don’t make assertions that I can’t back up. I generally comment on the stories that already exist and that are visible on NewsNow or various other sources. Fair enough.

From time to time though I get pieces of information regarding the club which invariably turn out to be true. If you want to read back you’ll see that I’ve confirmed signings before the club ( recent signings like Almunia and Lupoli a case in point), brought you news about team line-ups for various games, told you about young players like Cesc joining the club and making his debut and so on. This information I gladly share with you because it’s interesting for Arsenal fans to get news that doesn’t appear elsewhere. This doesn’t make it untrue.

From time to time I get pieces of information that I can’t share with you. They might be a little bit sensitive and may have a negative impact on what the club is trying to do. An example, José Reyes. I could have brought you that story a couple of days before the deal was done, but what if I had done that and someone else had hijacked the deal or some other complication arose because of the information being in the public domain? There have been other stories which might be too easily linked back to my source, and as such I just can’t publish, although I’d love to be able to fill you all in.

However, I am 100% confident that the information I receive is given to me in good faith. It’s not always correct, because lots of things happen in football clubs and situations can change very quickly. I trust the information that I’m given is correct to the best knowledge of the person/persons who give it to me. In the same way I pass on that information to you. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m just passing on the bits and pieces that come my way. In good faith. You can take it at face value if you want, you can choose not to believe it. That’s entirely up to you, but you should understand that I don’t have an agenda. I’m not trying to make headlines. I don’t change my mind and publish contradictory articles within 24 hours. I’m not claiming to be the gospel of all things Arsenal. You know by now that Patrick Vieira was at the Arsenal training ground on Friday and cleared out his locker. I was asked not to reveal that, so it remained unknown until it was published elsewhere. If I was chasing exclusives I’d have published that bit of info myself.

For this reason I’m really at a loss to understand why I would receive emails from Arsenal fans calling me “ ...a stupid Sun loving wanker”   and an ‘agitator’ - amongst other things - after I brought you the news about Patrick Vieira yesterday. Like I said, you can choose to believe what I tell you, or not. That doesn’t mean my sources are made up. They’ve given me info before which stands up to scrutiny. They’ve told me things that haven’t come to pass, but that’s fair enough. Nobody is 100% accurate all the time. Most emails I got yesterday asked for more information, and I’m sorry I couldn’t share more, I hope you understand why I couldn’t do that. Yes, Arseblog normally reports on the news that already exists, but just sometimes we have a story before anyone else. So, if you don’t like what I write, or you don’t agree with it, that’s entirely your prerogative. Just don’t bother your arse emailing me with your badly written, poorly punctuated, txt speak crap. If you want to talk to me about what I’ve written, fire ahead. I have no problem with that. Just don’t waste your own time, and mine, sending insults.

I’m an Arsenal fan. Do I want Patrick Vieira to leave? No, I don’t. I’d prefer if he stayed, but based on the information I’ve been given (which corresponds with information other changey-mindy people have made public) it looks like he’s going to leave the club. Would I be happy if the information I was given, and that other people have been given and reported, turned out to be all due to a misunderstanding and Paddy stayed at the club? Of course. I hope he does, as do the people who gave me in the information in the first place, but this website would be even more boring than it already is if I didn’t give you these tidbits now and again.

Is it bad for Arsenal? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. We’ll be a considerable amount richer and the boss will buy a suitable replacement.

If he does leave should we hate Vieira? No. He’s given us 8 years fantastic service and been a vital part of our success. He signed a new deal last summer which means we’re going to get a big fee for him. He could quite easily have let his contract run down and left on a Bosman, meaning we have no midfielder and no money. That would have been harsh, but we got Sol like that so how can we complain?

Arsene Wenger stated yesterday that Vieira was not for sale, but worryingly said this “Patrick’s a big player for us but if he wants to move on then there’s very little me or the club can do.”

A footballer’s career is a relatively short one. You or I, for example, could choose to become a journalist at 18 or 19 and spend the next 45 years doing the job. A footballer goes for about 15 years. How many times have you changed your job because you needed a change. A change of scenery, colleagues, different experiences? How many times have you changed your job because you could earn more money somewhere else? I know it’s on a whole different scale, but the point is still valid in my opinion.

If Patrick Vieira really wants to leave Arsenal, to play football for a few years in Spain, for the biggest club in the world (we might hate them, but Madrid have got an allure for most professional footballers), can we really begrudge him this after what he’s done for, and brought to, our football club? For us it’s nigh on impossible to understand why any player would want to leave Arsenal. For us it’s our dream job. Captain of Arsenal Football Club, playing in midfield. I’m not doubting for a second that our players don’t have an affinity, in some cases a genuine love, for the club, but it’s not the same as being a fan. At the end of the day it’s their job. And just take a moment to think about your own job and how some days you just don’t want to do it, or you’d rather go lick a building clean than go in on a Monday morning.

Sometimes we just need a change. Maybe that’s what Patrick Vieira wants now. If that’s what he wants he has to go. You can’t keep a player when his heart isn’t really in it. A point made in an interesting article by Gabriele Marcotti here.

Just a footnote – I’m not saying he’s definitely going. Maybe AW can talk him around (don’t underestimate the chances of this – he’s done it before and his determination to keep him is obvious here), but all signs point to a move. All the information points to a move. The lack of a truly definitive statement from the player points to a move. Remember, this whole thing could be knocked on the head by Patrick taking 5 minutes to say to his agent, to AW, to the press office at Arsenal ‘Release a statement denying everything and saying I’m looking forward to the new season at Arsenal.’ So far that hasn’t happened, and I’m not sure that it will.

It’s always sad to lose a great player. Over the years we’ve said goodbyes to Liam Brady, Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Ian Wright amongst others. All legends at the club, all loved by the fans the same way Paddy is. Players come and go, Arsenal Football Club will always remain.

Other news: Arsenal beat Barnet 10-1 yesterday. Hat-tricks from Reyes and forgotten man Jeffers, plus a cracker from new Dutch lad Van Persie. Ray Parlour is considering a move to Boro. Shock as Arsenal legally avoid tax. That's it.

july 17th

Ok, I have a bad hangover this morning. Very bad.

Not helped by the continuing Vieira stories. According to The Sun Chelsea are now trying to sign our captain, but it looks more and more likely that Vieira will be going to Madrid. I can’t say too much but I have been given reliable information that a move is what Vieira wants and that the club are likely to accept a bid of around £30m. From everything I’m being told he’ll be a Madrid player next season.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but there you go.

Yesterday Real denied that they had any real interest in Vieira, same way they said they had no interest in Beckham or Zidane just before they signed them. I’ve just checked the Spanish press though and the only thing I can see is a statement saying Madrid are closer to singing Emerson. Apparently they’ve agreed a fee with Roma but the player would prefer to stay in Italy. It’s a very good smokescreen if that’s what it is, because they’ve been incredibly restrained over the Vieira thing.

Obviously we’ll wait to see what happens and what the club, the manager and the player have to say before making any real comment about, but the Daily Mail are speculating that this will be AW’s last season at THOF.

How very Arsenal all this is though. Our best ever season, followed by a week of stories and rumours of transfers and upheaval at the club. And when I have a hangover too. Bah.

I’m off the beach. And it’s cloudy. What a day it is so far.

*He looked a lot like Che Guevara, drove a diesel van




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