Today is going to be a bit more of a rant than usual, as I seek to vent my frustration at Barcelona and all the annoying speculation that has arisen from their extremely public pursuit of Csec Fabregas.
An article that I read earlier on the BBC Sport website has spread like wildfire, with all the major news websites now reporting that the Arsenal board are ready to sell Cesc Fabregas. The BBC apparently spoke to “a senior Arsenal official” who gave them inside information about the future of Cesc Fabregas.
“The offer [from Barcelona] was made formally in writing to our chief executive [Ivan Gazidis], and we said no straight away. Possibly [Barcelona will make another bid]. If it’s enough I expect we’ll have to sell.”
The first line of the article reads:
“Arsenal are prepared to sell Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona if the two clubs can agree a fee, BBC Sport has learned.”
For those of you who need to read it again, I am going to repeat the most important part of the sentence:
“if the two clubs can agree a fee”
In my opinion, the source has not revealed anything new to the BBC. We already knew that Barcelona had made an official bid a few days ago that was rejected by the club, and the fact that Fabregas will move to Barcelona if/when the clubs finally agree a fee is not exactly a revelation. That’s just common sense! However, you could equally make the exact opposite point. Fabregas won’t be leaving if the clubs continue to argue over his valuation.
Wenger is keen to keep Cesc at the Emirates (photo from RonMac on Flickr)
Football clubs are (after all) a financial business and the majority of managers – ignoring the clubs owned by the Roman Abramovich’s and Al Mubarak’s of this world – will be forced to sell their key players when other “bigger” clubs offer large sums of money. If there is an offer matching our valuation of Fabregas then we will almost definitely sell him. It’s not difficult to understand and it’s not some big secret that the BBC have just uncovered. I just wish that somebody would explain this to Barcelona!
Barca have already offered us £27 million, but Arsène Wenger immediately told them that he is worth in excess of £40 million and probably closer to £50 million. Call it a “buy-out clause” – because that is essentially what it is. We don’t want to let our captain go, but if Barcelona are able to meet our valuation then we will have to let him leave. Of course, it’s not just about the money. Fabregas himself may attempt to force a move if he is really as desperate to leave as the media seem to suggest. But the money would be a good start.
If Barcelona stick by their previous comments and don’t offer any more than £35 million, then Fabregas won’t leave. It’s that simple. Wenger will do anything to keep hold of him, and Arsenal fans want him to stay.
According to The Mirror, Arsène Wenger has offered Jack Wilshere an improved 5-year contract which will keep him at the club until 2016. Wilshere signed a contract extension in November, but it is thought that Wenger feels that he is deserving of a pay rise following his emergence as one of the club’s most important young players. It is believed that the pay-rise could be as much as an extra £10,000 per week.
Wilshere already has 5 England caps at the age of 19 (photo from RonMac on Flickr)
Wilshere started more games than any other Arsenal player last season, and has even been touted by many as the future of English football. Having already earned 5 international caps, it is all but certain that Wilshere will be included in Fabio Capello’s squad for the European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine next summer. He was named England’s Man of the Match in their 2-2 draw with Switzerland last month.
As much as I wait in hope for Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri & Gael Clichy to sign new contracts, it is important that Wenger does his best to ensure that our emerging (or emerged in the case of Wilshere) talents are kept happy. They represent the future of our football club.
With Aaron Ramsey as his potential midfield partner in future seasons, I would suggest that the Wilshere/Ramsey partnership could even become our equivalent of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
According to the Transfer Tavern, Arsenal have been linked with a move for Zenit St Petersburg striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov. The 28 year old, who was voted Player of the Year by the club managers of the Russian Premier League in 2005, scored 16 goals in 32 games for Zenit last year. Kerzhakov is already on 7 goals this season; I would just like to clarify that they are already 14 games through the 2011/12 season in the Russian Premier League.
From clips that I have seen of the striker, it is clear that the Russian international has a good first touch and is a strong finisher, although it is suggested that he is more of a goal poacher than an out-and-out striker. Despite not being known for his pace, it would seem that his movement in and around the box causes significant problems for defenders.
However, I do not think that this transfer is particularly likely. There is no doubt that Kerzhakov is a talented footballer, but his time at Sevilla from 2006-2008 (during which he was used predominately as a squad player due to the prominence of Luis Fabiano and Freddie Kanoute) is proof that he is simply not good enough to play for Arsenal. I have read that he likes to play as a lone striker, but I really can’t see him replacing Robin van Persie in our starting line-up.
Likeliness Rating: 1/5
Arsenal have lost out to Real Madrid in the race to sign Lens defender Raphael Varane. Lens president Gervais Martel confirmed to the club’s supporters that Varane will be joining Real Madrid stating “He will play for Real Madrid under the guidance of Jose Mourinho.”
Despite only making his debut in November 2010, the 18 year old centre back impressed hugely during his 24 apprearancs for Lens. It was reported by the Metro that Verane was being tracked by Arsène Wenger (who has a large number of scouts with significant knowledge of talented French players), and had also attracted the attention of Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain.
It is thought that the influence of former Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane proved to be one of the deciding factors. Varane met Zidane earlier this week before he signed a deal which keeps him at Madrid until 2016.
Velez Sarsfield Sporting Director Christian Bassedas has admitted that keeping hold of midfielder Ricardo Alvarez is “impossible” as Arsenal look set to complete their first signing of a potential busy summer. Sarsfield told TyC Sports yesterday evening:
“It is impossible for him not to go, we cannot retain him. There are offers that are [irrefutable]… not just because of the figure, but if Arsenal come, well… then you have to tell the player ‘look, you deserve it’. Ricky has a lot to win.”
Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini had already conceded defeat in the race to sign Alvarez, revealing that he believes that the move to Arsenal is already a done deal. Talking to Italian radio station Radio Kiss Kiss, Zamparini said:
“We did have a concrete bid for Alvarez and had him in our grasp back in January… Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the move in time, so we lost him to Arsenal. At this moment he has already signed for the Gunners.”
It is believed that the transfer fee will be in the region of around £11/12 million. Apparently this deal looked like being finalised last month, as we mentioned on Straight Talking Gooners, but Velez (who play in the Argentinean Primera division) stalled because they were unhappy with the transfer fee – an issue which has since been resolved.
At 6″2′ (roughly the same height as Abou Diaby), Alvarez has a strong physical presence. As I mentioned the other day, this is something that we are significantly lacking in midfield. However, he is not as well known for his goalscoring ability as I had hoped for. 4 goals in 29 games for Velez Sarsfield last season is hardly outstanding, and I wonder how well he will cope in the Premier League. That said, I really hope that he proves me wrong.
Arsenal have had a part-exchange offer for Brazil and Shakhtar Donetsk star Douglas Costa rejected, according to his agent Cesar Bottega. Costa, who was an integral part of the Shakhtar team that reached the Champions League quarter-finals last season, has attracted interest from many top European clubs and has been linked with a move away from the club this summer. Arsenal had offered Denilson as a make-weight for the deal.
“The Gunners have offered the club Denilson in exchange for Douglas but Shakhtar said no,” Bottega told Calciomercato.com. ”They are not interested in Denilson and would want only money.”
It had been reported that Arsenal also offered Denilson in a potential swap deal for fellow Shakhtar midfielder Willian. Shakhtar would seem to be potentially interested in selling one of their talented midfielders, but only if Arsenal offered an appropriate cash value.
Likeliness rating: 2/5
According to The Times, José Enrique is now a transfer target for Arsène Wenge as a potential replacement for Gael Clichy. Enirque has 12 months remaining on his contract with Newcastle and it would seem that the Spaniard does not have any intention of signing an extension – like almost every other footballer he wants to join a club that plays in the Champions League.
Enrique, who has made 129 appearances for Newcastle, joined from Villareal for £6.3 million in 2007. It is thought that talks between Enrique’s agent and Arsenal are currently taking place. The Times reports that once it is confirmed that Clichy’s £8 million to Roma has been finalised, it is expected that Enrique will complete a deal which brings him to the Emirates.
However, I don’t think that a deal for José Enrique is particularly likely. I would expect that Wenger is looking abroad for a cheaper replacement for Gaël Clichy, and there are several other left-backs that the club is reportedly interested in.
TalkSport have reported that Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic will not be leaving Germany this summer. It is thought that several Premier League clubs (including Arsenal and Manchester United) have expressed interest in signing the 22-year-old Serbian international. Subotic is also believed to have drawn interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are both said to be monitoring his situation, but his agent Stephen Kelly has dismissed a summer move:
“Neven will not be leaving Dortmund this summer, I am certain. He is happy there and has a very good contract – one that expires in 2014.
“Of course there is interest and, has been from the beginning, but he does not want to leave the club. He wants to play for them in the Champions League.”
Throughout the January transfer window, Subotić was linked with a move to Chelsea (who were looking for a central defender to cover for the injured Alex). Borussia turned down an offer of £17.5 million, and Chelsea turned their attentions elsewhere, eventually securing the services of David Luiz from Benfica.
Subotić would be a great defensive signing for Arsenal, who are clearly looking for a new partner for Thomas Vermaelen. Squilacci simply isn’t good enough, and if last season is anything to go by, then Djourou and Kosciely are not the most reliable defenders either. However, Kelly’s comments make it rather clear that Subotić is not leaving Germany.
Keisuke Honda has admitted that he is unhappy with life in Russia, leading to further speculation that he will leave the club this summer. Honda had been linked with Arsenal last summer, following his brilliant performances in the World Cup, and Arsène Wenger is known to be a big fan of the 25 year old Japanese international. His recent comments have seen him been linked, yet again, with a move to the Emirates.
“I was MVP [most valuable player] at the Asian Cup in January but I’m still not happy with things.
“Right now I’m in a rut still being at CSKA. This wasn’t what I planned.
“If I don’t accept it I can’t live my life. But if I get too used to my circumstances I’ll come to a halt.”
Clearly Honda feels under-appreciated at CSKA and is looking for a way out of the club. However, we have been linked with a ridiculous number of attacking midfielders this summer and the only way that I can see him joining the club is if it is confirmed that Samir Nasri is leaving the club. I guess we will have to wait until later on in the summer to find out.
According to The Sun, Arsenal look set to win the race to sign Swedish left-back Alexander Milosevic from AIK Stockholm. Milosevic has impressed hugely this season and has been watched by a number of scouts from Premier League clubs. AIK’s director of sports Jens Anderson confirmed to the media that “Several clubs from England are following him.”
With Gaël Clichy stalling on signing a contract extension, it is suggested that Arsène Wenger sees Milosevic as the perfect replacement. The 19 year old, who is part of the Swedish U21 World Cup squad, is also believed to have attracted the interest of Liverpool, Spurs and Sunderland.
However, I have my doubts about whether Milosevic is right for the club. Arsenal fans would further questions Arsène Wenger’s transfer decisions if he were to sign Milosevic and use him as our primary left-back next season. In a summer when Wenger is supposed to be spending on players who will be able to make an immediate impact, it would be a disappointment if he spent a large sum of money on a relatively unknown player.
Likeliness Rating: 2.5/5
According to Goal.com, several Premier League clubs have contacted Ipswich about the availability of Connor Wickham. This has since been confirmed by Ipswich manager Paul Jewell:
“Everyone seems to be talking about Connor, but there’s been no bid for him.
“We’ve had enquiries, but enquiries don’t mean anything. I could ring up Barcelona and enquire about Lionel Messi, but it doesn’t mean I’ll get him.”
A source close to Ipswich has further commented on Wickham’s transfer status:
“He [Wickham] wants to play in the Premier League but he is happy enough at Ipswich, especially since Paul Jewell came in.
“Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool have showed interest in this window but if he went to Arsenal and Tottenham he would sit on the bench a lot.
“Ipswich would sell for the right money but they like the idea of loaning him back for a season to help them get out of the Championship.”
Wickham, who is currently playing for England at the U21 World Cup in Denmark, scored 8 goals in 37 Championship games for Ipswich this season and Paul Jewell will do his best to keep hold of him. Whether he is Arsenal material remains to be seen – I am always slightly sceptical about young players from the Championship – but I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsène Wenger is monitoring him as a future prospect.
Samir Nasri’s agent, Alain Migliaccio, has confirmed that Nasri is going to hold further talks with Arsène Wenger over his future at the club and rubbished rumours that previous contract talks had broken down.
Nasri is out of contract with the club next summer and is yet to sign a contract extension. Reports over the past few weeks suggested that Nasri is refusing to sign a new contract until satisfied that the squad can mount a serious title challenge next season, but Migliaccio claims negotiations with the club are ongoing.
He told calciomercatoweb (an online Italian football website):
“I want to clarify that there has been no break with the Gunners over the contract’s renewal and we should meet again soon with Arsène Wenger
“There are a few clubs interested in Samir, but it is useless to name them.
“Before listening to other teams, we need and we want to talk with Arsenal.”
Photo from Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr
The rumours have clearly been getting to Nasri, with one Arsenal fan behaving aggressively towards him last week on Twitter over rumours that he was in talks with Manchester United. Nasri has since made it clear that fans should not believe everything that they read in the press.
“I just want tell you dont listen the newspaper and the rumours. i will let you know if something happen.”
At this stage it is impossible to know whether Nasri is going to stay or go. I really hope that he stays because he is one of the most talented midfielders in the Premier League. He holds the team together brilliantly when Cesc Fabregas is injured and is a constantly threatens the opponents defence. We need him if we want to challenge for major trophies next season.
In an effort to reduce speculation on his future, Cesc Fabregas has made it clear that he is happy playing at Arsenal. Fabregas is constantly being linked with a summer transfer back to his childhood club Barcelona as an eventual replacement for 31 year old Xavi, but reiterated that no decision has been made about a move away from North London. Any decision on his future will be made by Arsène Wenger.
News within the last few days suggests that it is increasingly likely that Fabregas will remain at the club for at least another season. It would seem that Arsène Wenger’s biggest battle will now be keeping hold of contract-rebel Samir Nasri. One thing is for sure – we cannot afford to lose both of our talented midfielders if Wenger wishes to build on this season.
“I am an Arsenal player. I have been very happy for eight years and I am very happy.
“There have been no decisions. It doesn’t always depend on the player and at the moment I don’t know anything.
“You can never say never in this life as so many things happen that you can never predict. But I am very happy where I am. Anything else would be speculation that is untrue.
“He [Wenger] is the boss, the one who makes the decisions – you should ask him.”
Cesc had previously vented his frustration at the lack of silverware at Arsenal, but acknowledged that the club has bright times ahead. His only major honour with Arsenal so far was the FA Cup in 2005.
“A player who is not frustrated at not winning titles is either lying to himself or lacks ambition.
“But there is a good team and a good manager and one of the most faithful fanbases in Europe. With those I believe we can make progress and one day win an important trophy.”
The key word here is “we”. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I believe that choice of words is extremely important. The fact that Cesc uses the word “we” suggests that he still considers himself part of the club, and believes that he will still be there when the team wins their next major trophy.
I honestly don’t think that Cesc is going to move to Barcelona, but I am worried about losing Samir Nasri. Keeping Fabregas will soften the blow if Nasri were to leave. Then again, every week the status of Cesc’s transfer seems to change and there are only a handful of people who know exactly what is going on.
The first photo was released on the website arsenalinsider.com, which contains the new anniversary badge. As expected, it is a Nike shirt, however the colours and design are not typical of Arsenal nor the sports brand.
Previous away kits
2006/07 – First away kit in the Emirates era. Famous for being worn in the 2006 Champions League final. Classic bright yellow with black stripes on the shoulders. Plain but nice.
2007/08 – Despite being pictured here, Henry never wore this celebratory kit. Commemorating our great manager, Herbert Chapman, it is all-white with maroon and gold trimmings. Different to typical Arsenal kits, but attractive nonetheless.
2008/09 - This kit divided many fans, but it is one of my favourite Arsenal strips ever. Despite the colourful design, I think it was rather stylish. In keeping with previous away kits (although they were often either yellow OR blue), both yellow and blue were used, however this yellow was slightly more ocre (much like our away kit from this season).
2009/10 – Despite the odd white lines, I liked this kit for the collar – much like the maroon kit in our final season at Highbury. Not a great away kit, but the traditional blue was a good choice.
2010/11 – This kit coincided with great away form, but the mixture of yellow with maroon, as opposed to blue, was probably a mistake.
So what do I think of it?
The design is unusual, and blue/cyan mix is a bit whacky. Most Gooners seem to have a pretty dim view of it, everyone seems to be holding out for a better kit! Unfortunately, there is a possibility this will be our away strip next season, but there have been worse kits, so we should count ourselves lucky…