African Experiment Over?
Arsene Wenger has decided to take a different tact. He has sold Adebayor and Toure and Eboue is due to follow. That is three of Arsenal’s four Africans. The move can be explained as a massive u-turn by Arsene.
A few years ago Arsenal set-up an agreement with Beveren in Belgium, whereby the Belgian club brought players over from the Ivory Coast and Arsenal were to be given first refusal once the players acquired a Belgian passport.
Arsenal had several players on trial, Yaya Toure, Emanuel Eboue, Marco Ne and Giles Yapi Yapo. Only Eboue was signed by Arsenal whilst the others went elsewhere in Europe.
The Beveren relationship ended, and so it appears did Arsene’s love for African players. Not because of their technique or skill or athleticism, but because of the African Cup of Nations and the travelling from Africa to Europe. Quite often players arrive late or injured after international duty, but this is part and parcel of having international players. But what broke the camel’s back was the ACN held every two years in January and February, just as the domestic season is about to get interesting.
People will say that Arsene knew the deal when he bought these players, but it was widely expected that FIFA would standardise the international calendar and move the ACN to June, to be held every four years. African countries argued that this period was too hot, well if that is the case how can African countries ever host the world cup unless you are South Africa then?
Wenger has not turned his back entirely on African players, but now his preference is for those who represent European nations like Djourou, Nasri, Sagna and Diaby.
Until Africa falls in line with the rest of the world over its continental championships I believe we will see fewer and fewer African players at top clubs.