Only one place to start today, and that is the final confirmation that Adebayor is now a Man City player. No news yet on the official site, which is clearly lagging a little behind, but the deal has been done, Wenger sending him on his way with his usual good wishes.
The player himself is making the right noises, stating his ambition for City to become a top four club while thanking Arsenal, in an interview certainly more PR-laden than his ill-fated stint on Football Focus at the end of last season:
“I am very happy, very pleased to be here. I signed for Manchester City because I think they are a team that needs players like this.”
“This season I would love for us to be in the top four. We know it is not going to be easy.”
“I had a good discussion with Arsene and I had his blessing to leave the club. I am very happy to have played for Arsenal. The fans were always great to me, the manager, everyone and the players. I wish them the best of luck. They will always be in my heart.”
“The fans were always great to me” – having not seen the interview, I’ve no idea how gritted the big man’s teeth were.
I still have mixed feelings. With the right application, Adebayor could go on to become a terrific striker, if he combines the improvement in his finishing with the workrate we saw a couple of years ago. At City, with immediate competition for places, that might be what we see, and if it does I’m sure there will be some Arsenal fans rueing the sale. But had he stayed, we would have had more of the same lethargy, and the lack of players coming out to defend him has been telling. Inside the camp, much more focus has been on Rosicky’s return, which gives a neat indication of where the popularity within the squad lies.
The fee is the usual undisclosed figure, but it seems to be in the region of £25m, which is excellent business for a player we paid only a few million for, and has left us with plenty of baggage. City were clearly the only club likely to make that kind of offer this summer, and its one I’m sure Wenger has happily taken. While he never likes to see his charges leave before they’ve reached their full potential (as Adebayor hasn’t), it is certainly a deal that suits all.
Ade needed a fresh start, but I still see trouble ahead – Santa Cruz is a proven striker in the Premiership and a more ruthless finisher, while Tevez has already shown himself unhappy on the bench, so it is not a foregone conclusion that he’ll walk into the side every week. How it copes with that should be interesting.
But right now, that isn’t our problem, and we need to look forward. For all his division of the fanbase, Adebayor gave a lot to Arsenal in a short period, scored some terrific goals, and briefly became a real fan favourite. But his ego eventually took over, surrounded by people who convinced him that his stature within the game was higher than the reality, and he lost exactly what had endeared him to us in the first place – work rate. Lack of talent is forgivable, loved even, but a drop in application and commitment is not.
The focus now inevitably turns to replacements, funded by a fee that is likely to have been largely paid up front, a rarity these days. The media are insistent that Chamakh is the man, but I agree with the many that feel a direct like for like signing is unlikely. It is a lot more likely that we’ll see a player arrive further back, perhaps another central defender if we see departures there, or even that elusive central midfielder.
Expect frustration to grow as we don’t sign anyone in the next couple of weeks, however – the team are now embarking on a pre-season tour, so negotiations will have to wait. I’d be surprised to see anyone arrive before August.
And by that time, the build up will be well underway. Last night saw the beginning of a new chapter, and the return of a familiar face – Rosicky handed the captaincy for the 2-2 draw with Barnet. The performance was irrelevant really, save for a couple of excellent moments, Barazite’s stunning goal the highlight. More than anything, it was good to see the Czech star back. At the risk of inviting ire, he really is like a new signing. There, I said it.
And so ended a busy day. With the main departure sorted in mid July, we can look forward, and that’s exactly what we should do, without the player that could’ve been so much more than the comfortable man he now is. Players often complain that a team’s ambition does not match their own. This time, it was the player who was happy to settle.