So another week begins and the players have returned from the Asian Tour. Time to catch up with friends, family, and in Jack Wilshere’s case, something called Gossip Girl. I’m pretty sure I don’t ever want to watch that. Unless it’s girls gossiping about the ways in which they would flay John Terry before rolling him in salt.
The manager is happy with the way the tour went, both from a commercial exercise and for the squad, saying:
In China and Malaysia we are starting to become really popular so that is a positive sign. We have had a good experience as a team together. There is a big potential for fans here and that is the main reason why English teams come here.
The game has changed and will continue to do so. Ensuring the club reaches more fans all over the world is something that the highly staffed commercial department will work on but it was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and enjoyment the fans got simply from seeing Arsenal. Let’s face it, there wasn’t much to get excited about during the 1-1 draw with Greentown but when this is your only chance to see the team you support you make the most of it.
And quite frankly, the Chinese supporters who made the ‘Barce pay £40m take Cesc away or go home to wank’ banner have created a piece of genius that will long be remembered.
So, back home the preparations will continue ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Cologne. At the training ground Arsene will have to start dealing with the Cesc situation and bring it a conclusion one way or the other sooner rather than later. He says:
We have to stop at some stage … I hope we can close that very quickly in our favour. For us, it’s important that the team settles psychologically as quickly as possible because we have a tough start.
He is in our plans. The problem we face is speculation from everywhere but my target is the same – to keep players and my desire to fight for that is the same.
There is talk of the club imposing a deadline which goes as far as the end of the of the month. If at that point Barcelona haven’t coughed up then we’ll tell them, in so many words, to cock off. Which begs the question: if the manager is so determined to keep Cesc what’s stopping us releasing that statement now? Barcelona have talked and talked and postured and preened all summer about signing him but when it comes right down to it their behaviour has been small-time.
Their efforts at ‘negotiation’ seem to have done little except annoy Arsenal, take their valuation of the two 16 year olds, for example. The problem for us is that this dominates our pre-season preparations and has a direct influence on what we might need to do with our squad for the season ahead. For that reason alone I’d like to see a bit more decisiveness from the club so we can put whatever it is behind us and move on.
As for Nasri, the manager says:
I have spoken to Samir, of course, because he is in a situation where he has only one year to go.
Which leaves none the wiser. And of Mancini’s comments about hoping to sign him, he said:
Who needs to intervene? I don’t know. The rules are the rules. They have certainly to be cleaned up. Frankly, it doesn’t take sleep away from me. I just think it is surprising that we have to face these kind of comments. You have never heard me say any word about a player.
Ahem, cough cough. All managers talk about players they’d like to sign, maybe Arsene does it less blatantly than some but I don’t have any real issue with Mancini’s comments. Perhaps the issue we should have is that the situation we find ourselves in with Nasri brings about comments like that.
And it is a complicated issue. Those that would ask why we’ve let a player like Nasri get to a position where he only has 12 months left on his contract raise a valid point but, at the same time, you cannot force a player to sign a new deal. You can offer him the highest wage at the club, along with players who have produced quality performances more consistently, but if the player feels that’s beneath him, or he can earn more elsewhere by leaving on a free, what can you do?
The idea that we should just pay Nasri what he wants is misguided too. It sets a precedent for every squad member who feels they deserve more to behave in the same way and that’s not healthy. This is why I’m surprised at Wenger’s insistence that Nasri would stay – as it also sets a precedent and may lead to more players running down their deals and leaving on a free. I know, few tears would be shed for some of them, but the whole thing seems at odds with everything Wenger and the club have done down the years.
Ask yourself – would you sign Nasri for £20m + wages for just one season? That’s essentially what we’re doing if we keep him and reject the money from City. He’d want to have one hell of a season to justify that kind of expenditure. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure £20m could be re-invested in a player of similar quality who would provide better value for money. I know it’s not just about the cost of things but at a club like Arsenal, where parsimony is a way of life, the whole thing is very weird to me, and I’m not sure I believe Nasri will stay.
Anyway, hopefully being back from Asia and having access to the cheque-book (hidden away in Ken Friar’s drawer) will mean that we see some action this week in terms of strengthening the squad. The manager said in May that he wanted to do that, we haven’t as yet.
So, let’s hope it’s a busy week, for all the right reasons. Till tomorrow.