Players start to return, Arsene has work to do

Blimey, looks like the sun is out again today. It feels almost … continental.

And it’s a big day at Arsenal as players will return for the start of pre-season training. I don’t expect they’ll all be there today, but over the next couple of days we should have everyone back. With a trip to Malaysia and China very much on the horizon (the first game is on Wednesday week) it’ll be important to get them running around, burning off the pies and fish and chips and Mars bars they’ve been eating all summer.

The futures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas will be very much on the agenda and it’ll be interesting to see how the former’s stance might alter when face to face with his manager. It’s easy to be cool, aloof and demanding from afar, but as Cesc (and others before him) can testify, Arsene can be very, very persuasive when he wants to be.

Unless the offer from Man City, or even United, is ludicrously high I just can’t see us selling to a rival club. City are the only ones with the means to bid that amount and while they’ve done it before (spending £16.5m on de Jong who was available for free just a few months later), I don’t think they’ll do it again. That means that if Nasri is to go he’d have to go abroad and I wonder is there enough interest in him from clubs of the required stature.

He could stay and leave on a free next summer – which is quite likely – but it does seem as if the chances of him signing a new deal are slim. I know that’s obvious, if he really wanted to sign he’d have done it well before now, but with all that’s gone on it nearly requires a climb-down on one side to make it happen. Either Arsenal cave in to the bullying, scaremongering tactics and give him more money, or Nasri accepts what’s on offer from us.

If it’s the first option then it sets a precedent for all other players and agents to use when it comes to negotiations and I think that’s dangerous. Especially as we know the links between one particular agent and a number of our players. The second requires Nasri to swallow his pride and lose a bit of face but it’s not impossible. He can always trot out the line about how the squad was strengthened to his liking and he can now realise his footballing ambitions with us.

“It was always my intention to stay. I love the club” etc etc. The sad part is that whatever happens it will have changed the relationship between Nasri and the fans, and not for the better. If you go with your head you know that footballers are just doing a job. Wouldn’t we all negotiate a better deal for ourselves? Very few have the same connection with the club we have as fans. I think most people realise that but you don’t just go with your head, there’s the heart as well, and that doesn’t approve of the tactics being deployed.

It tells you he’s being offered more per week than most of us will earn over the space of a few years, that he’s changed his position from a couple of weeks ago where he said we were the best team to one that’s not good enough for him, and it doesn’t buy the bit about it not being about money. The heart tells you he’s got uppity on the back of a good 6 months and it all feels very familiar. Quite the situation for the boss but he’s talked bigger and better players than Nasri around before. We’ll have to wait and see if he decides the Frenchman is worth the effort.

Meanwhile the Cesc thing, such as it is, rumbles on. As I mentioned yesterday one Catalan papers says he won’t return and is ready to rebel, the other says he will be there for training. He will return. Barcelona’s ham-fisted attempts to sign him appear to be continuing as they have apparently suggested the two 16 year olds we signed from them this summer – quite legally – are worth far more than we’ve paid and they want that amount knocked off the price of Cesc.

If true it’s quite staggering how inept they are. For whatever reason they simply will not accept that their valuation of Cesc is just way too low. If €40m was rejected last summer, why on earth would we accept less than that this time around? And why, if they really, really wanted to sign him, would they pull a stunt which can only complicate things? If I were Arsenal and Barcelona came demanding I lower the price of a player because they’ve got the hump about Spanish employment law (which is why Arsenal were able to sign the two kids, and Cesc in the first place), I’d be much less inclined to do business with them.

It strikes me it’s just posturing on Barcelona’s behalf, to make themselves look like strong and uncompromising business people. Instead they just look foolish. Next thing they’ll be looking for a price reduction because we sold them Hleb or because we had the temerity to beat them at home last season. They match his valuation, pay the money, or get lost. CUoCO. A far easier situation than the Nasri one, in my opinion.

Not much else stirring. The Mirror links us with a £12m move for Wolves striker Kevin Doyle, which seems rather expensive to me. He’s a decent player, and would score more goals than Vela, for example, but I’m not 100% sure if that should be the benchmark for making a signing.

Beyond that there’s the whole Gael Clichy/Man City situation which is expected to be wrapped up this week. I’ve seen a fee of nearly £20m mentioned, which must be just made up.

Anyway, there’s plenty going on this week and hopefully we’ll get some answers about players going out and those coming in.

Till tomorrow.

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