Rarely does a week go by where one or more names are not linked as Arsenal transfer targets. Amusingly, these ‘targets’ rarely cost less than 10m, a sum of money Wenger reserves only for special occasions. But it runs both ways – rumours of players leaving constantly fill the back pages.
This week, we’ve had a glut.
Fran Merida was fined a whopping 2.1m earlier in the week, a ridiculous sum for a 17 year old who had no contract at the time he left Barcelona. An appeal is likely, but whatever the bill, Arsenal will pick it up. Despite this, the People suggest that he is on his way out, for not being ‘mobile enough’.
Merida was one of the stars of the recent Under 17 World Cup. He is also one of the most stunning prospects in the youth ranks, having played exceptionally well for both youth and reserve sides last season. And he recently made his first team debut in the Carling Cup. I have to say this story is fanciful, to put it mildly. But the People specialise in wild transfer rumours, currently claiming that Mascherano and Fat Frank are off to Barcelona, Andy Johnson to West Ham, and Arteta to Chelsea.
Moving on, and Armand Traore rejected chances of moving on loan, in order to fight Clichy for the left back berth. Tricky, given that the latter is playing so well, but lest it be forgotten, he has had numerous injury problems in the past and we are perhaps fortunate that he has stayed consistently fit since some money grabbing idiot left the club. If he becomes crocked again, 18 year old Traore will have a great chance on his hands. Good luck to him.
And finally, just when you were running out of reasons to dislike Barcelona, technical secretary (whatever that means – is he that automated voice on a phone line?) Txiki Beguiristain shoots them right back to the top of the arrogance pile.
Not satisfied with the signing of Henry in the summer, they are now after young Cesc. Or are they?
“He is a great player but the circumstances of his departure make things very difficult. We cannot pay a great quantity for a homegrown player that decided to leave us.”
Excellent. If you aren’t prepared to pay a large sum of money for a 20 year old who this season has seemingly developed into the complete midfielder, is probably only behind Lionel Messi in the ‘best young player in the world’ stakes, and has seven years to run on his contract, then you aren’t going to get him. Simple. So go away.
Beguiristain goes on:
“To start with he would have to show his desire to return.”
Wrong again. To start with Barcelona would have to offer Arsenal a sum of money that they agree to. Then, and only then, can they talk to Cesc.
It is blatant tapping up, and not even particularly impressively done. If anything, they are going to wind Fabregas up with this talk, as if he owes them something. The truth is that he signed an eight year contract last year, and with that handed a massive amount of power over to Arsenal.
Teams sell because they are afraid of letting players go on the cheap, or for free when their contract nears expiry. If Barcelona attempt to lure Cesc away next summer, he’ll have over six years left on the deal and Arsenal can demand whatever price they want. Now Cesc is an intelligent and articulate man, as you can see from his interviews – he would not sign such a contract unless he meant it. Why would he? Such a talent could sign three year deals, get excellent payrises, and hanker after a move whenever he feels like it.
But as we’ve probably gathered by now, our mercurial Spaniard isn’t like that. He is fully committed to Arsenal. Everything he does which helps create a goal for the team, he celebrates with passion. He cares. And he knows that he put trust in the club by signing that contract. Will he leave when he has 1-2 years left on it? Quite possibly. But until then, Barcelona and the rest of the world can just watch and admire.
One player who may be on his way out is Jens Lehmann. While he claims he is expecting a recall, I think he knows as well as anyone that Almunia will continue in goal over the weekend. All I can imagine is that he is delivering an ultimatum – play me or sell me in January. Lehmann is desperate to play so that he doesn’t lose his international place. But instead of knuckling down, he is being impatient, arrogant and disrespectful towards Almunia. It is out or order and I imagine he knows it.
So that’s a 37 year old possibly leaving, while 17, 18 and 20 year olds aren’t going anywhere. Sounds about right.