After a week of speculation about our captain, we finally had some concrete quotes today, clearing the whole issue up. Well, sort of. Okay, so they didn’t really. We don’t know whether he is coming or going, but we do know that he is respecting his contract and leaving the matter entirely in the hands of Arsenal Football Club:
“I will only say one thing, I have great respect for Arsene Wenger, for Arsenal football club and for the Arsenal fans. Sometimes not even in my house I felt more love than I felt at Arsenal.”
“I had a long conversation with Arsene, it was probably the greatest conversation I’ve had with someone in my life and I respect him so much and I don’t want to say too much about this.”
“He told me to concentrate on my football, he told me to concentrate on the World Cup, he told me to leave it in his hands, he will deal with whatever happens in my future and that’s what I’m doing, just concentrating on football.”
“It’s not up to me anymore and it’s just now about Arsenal and wherever it has to be and that’s it.”
It is fairly apparent that at some point in that conversation with Wenger, Cesc expressed a desire to move back to Barcelona, and was extremely grateful for the manager’s reaction. That alone suggests that Wenger has indicated that the club would sell if the right offer came in, which I don’t think anyone has ever doubted. The question is: what is that price, and will/can Barcelona pay it?
I’m not going to read too much into the fact that Cesc talks about the love he ‘felt’ (past tense) at Arsenal – English is not his first language and it would therefore be churlish to over analyse.
What is fantastic to see is that he is handing control to the club, where it has always belonged. He has made his wishes known, but if the conversation was as enlightening and meaningful as he suggests, it was extremely likely to have been frank and honest on both sides. Cesc will have explained his reasons for wanting to leave, and Wenger will have made his position known.
Arsene is not a man to keep a player against his wishes as long as the club is suitably compensated, so that there is a price on our captain’s head is not in doubt. But by removing himself from all negotiations in such a mature and classy way, Cesc is refusing to bow to the pressure Barcelona are exerting. Their familiar and juvenile attempts to drive a chasm between player and club, in order to drive the price down, have failed. The two are as united as ever, and will only be separated if the move is beneficial to both.
Cesc will not come out and demand a transfer, and Arsenal will not contact Barcelona seeking to sell him. There is only one move available to the Spanish club, and it is the move they should have initiated proceedings with – an offer. If it is too low, and they refuse to move towards our valuation, Cesc’s respect for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger will see him return to the Emirates without fuss. Checkmate.
At last, a club and a player are insisting Barcelona go about their transfer business in the correct way. Be proud.
Elsewhere, one Spaniard is heading home – Fran Merida’s expected move to Atletico Madrid has been completed – a shame he could not make it at Arsenal, but perhaps La Liga will prove a more fruitful league to play in. Good luck to him.
Sol Campbell is considering a move to Celtic, but only if Arsenal do not offer him a new contract. Personally, I hope (and believe) that he will remain at the club next season – he still has plenty to offer, not only on the pitch itself but in the dressing room. One more year, Sol.
The podcast is back
After a week’s holiday, the Beautiful Groan podcast is back. It is shorter than usual thanks to there being absolutely no football to talk about, but there is still plenty on the show – Chamakh is welcomed, the Cesc situation is discussed (although it was recorded before today’s press conference), another footballing annoyance is consigned to Room 101 and there is even time to take a look at our defence, predicting what may happen to our back line this summer.
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Enjoy. And thank you Cesc for showing the class befitting our club captain.