The focus of the football world is Samir Nasri. The little mercurial midfield maestro, who was proclaimed the little Zidane is the centre of a massive tug of war.
Nasri has not signed a new contract, he says money is not the route of the dispute, Arsenal have offered £90,000 as week and Nasri wants in the region of £110,000 a week. If this is the reason then Arsenal should pay extra £20,000 a week (we make more than that in programme sales every home game). If however it is Nasri wanting to see who Arsenal bring in, then this will be a long and protracted saga.
There are four clubs showing an interest in Nasri, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Inter Milan. Nasri is in demand and holds most of the cards. Arsenal appear to have made it clear he will not be allowed to go cheaply, despite only a year left on his contract.
Manchester United were the first to proclaim an interest with it is reported representative of both sides having already met. Wenger however has gone on record stating he will not sell Nasri to United. This will strengthen United and make it harder for Arsenal to challenge for the title next season. Wenger is also hurting over the comments coming out of Old Trafford about Arsenal and our style of football and lack of trophies.
Manchester City were next on the scene. Arsenal are prepared to sell to City, knowing City will pay around £25M for Nasri. There are several players at City who could be thrown into the deal, namely Micah Richards. Richards is an Arsenal fan, a versatile defender and a player who would be ideal for Arsenal.
Chelsea today made an enquiry about Nasri, mentioning £22M. They also have players who they want to throw into the bargain. The only player worth considering is Florent Malouda. He is a strong, experienced player who scores and creates plenty of goals and would do a good job for Arsenal.
The final club are Inter Milan. Inter’s problem is money. They bought Ricardo Alvarez, supposedly an Arsenal target and that appears to be their transfer budget. Inter have several players that could interest Arsenal including Thiaggo Motta and Emiliano Viviano. To funds the Nasri deal, Inter will have to sell Sneijder to Manchester United. Wenger would prefer to sell to Inter as this will take Nasri away from the Premier League, however Wenger should be bold and offer cash plus Nasri for Sneijder. Arsenal should break the bank and offer the Dutch player £130,000 a week to lure him to the Emirates, that would be a best sign of intent Arsenal can show and it will infuriate Ferguson and all the Manchester United fans.
The final option is that Nasri will be convinced that with the arrival of Gervinho, hopefully Cahill and even Juan Mata that Arsenal are making the right signings that means we will seriously challenge next season.
The press and radio are having another field day with Arsenal, writing about our demise before a ball has been kicked. The rationale behind this theory is we haven’t spent any money so we will struggle to qualify for the Europa League, never mind the Champions League.
Well let’s look at this matter in detail.
If Clichy and Sagna can rediscover their form of two years ago, once more we will have a solid defence. Wenger has strengthened the defence with the signing of Vermaelen and if Toure leaves, then he will add one more defender.
In midfield the key is not the “holding” player, but Fabregas. If Fabregas starts to tick from day one, so will the rest of the team. In Denilson, Song and Diaby Wenger has three players who should compliment Fabregas, but is Cesc does not find form then we will suffer.
In the attacking third of the field we have the most attacking players and option available than any other club in the Premier League. Commentators ignore the return of Rosicky and Eduardo, they do not realise what these two players will bring to the team. In addition we will Arshavin for the whole season. This player is a winner and possesses the ability to unlock some of the packed defences we will encounter at the Emirates. Wenger has a wealth of riches to choose from in terms of attackers, van Persie, Eduardo, Bendtner, Vela, Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky and Wilshere.
Now let’s look at our rivals.
Liverpool have added Johnson, period. They could lose one if not both of Alonso and Maschareno this week and they are so reliant on the goals of Gerrard and Torres that they are two long term injuries away from Premier League mid-table football.
Manchester United have lost Tevez and Ronaldo and Fergie has been riled by Manchester City. He is worried be cause he realises that despite the goals that Owen has scored in friendlies they count for nothing once the season begins. Ronaldo scored 25 goals last season and countless assists, where are they going to come from this season? Fergie has his wings clipped in terms of spending money this season and does not like it.
Chelsea are as always stable and will one or two players. Their biggest problems are the age of the squad and Carlo Ancelotti. Ancelotti is Roman’s pick and the previous manager chosen by the boss failed, furthermore Ancelotti has won only one league trophy in all his years in Italy.
There are as always several pretenders. Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa and Manchester City.
Tottenham are stuck in a vicious circle of buying plenty of mediocre players, overpaying them and not able to sell them on.
Everton have no money and Moyes will cobble together a challenge for the Europa League, but Everton are traditional slow starters to their league campaign.
Aston Villa have lost a key midfielder and replaced him with an over-rated winger who has a broken leg. Their season went pear-shape the moment they bought Heskey.
Manchester City are the biggest challengers, but Hughes did not show last season that he can get a group of players to gel together. City at one stage flirted with relegation. It will take one or two bad results and the Cit bubbler will burst with the likes of Tevez and Adebayor complaining about spending too much time on the bench.
I do not believe or listen to the doom and gloom mongers. Wenger will strengthen the team but we are not far off challenging for the league, we need to find form early this season and start to score goals from all over the place then we will challenge and plent y of pundits will have to eat their own words.
When we look around the Premier League I see a different picture from that portrayed by the media.
The media is obsessed with Arsenal’s lack of transfer activity and that pressure is building on Wenger to deliver silverware this season.
What the media fails to recognise is that most of Arsenal’s activity this summer has been aimed at securing contract extensions of key players, namely van Persie, Walcott, Gibbs, Ramsey, Fabianski and Wilshere. In addition to these players, I imagine that something is happening in relation to either Gallas or Toure behind the scenes. Securing these signings is as important as bringing in new players. Furthermore, we hope to see Eduardo and Rosicky make invaluable contributions in the forthcoming season.
These facts are swept under the carpet by everyone as irrelevant. The other fact that has been ignored by the media is that none of our main players has left the club or has demanded a transfer.
Let us now look at our “rivals”.
Manchester United have lost not one, but two influential players in Ronaldo and Tevez. Who have United replaced them with? Michael Owen (free transfer), Valencia £16m and Obertan £3m. People are saying that united are preparing a big signing, but I do not see this materialising. What appears to have happened is that the £80m transfer fee for Ronaldo has been used by the club to pay the instalment payments on Carrick, Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson.
The media would not dare say that United do not have the funds to buy players, but by the end of August you will see that United have had to reign back the expenditure as the Glazier debt starts to bite them hard.
Down the East Lancs. Road we find Liverpool and the most irresponsible manager in the league. Having squandered a small fortune last summer on several players, notably Robbie Keane, the Spaniard is not happy yet again. He has spent £18.5m on Glenn Johnson and is now skint!
One thing that Benitez has managed to do is hoodwink the press, in his time at Liverpool they have won the FA Cup and Champions League (both on penalties), yet nobody is saying that Benitez is under pressure to deliver silverware. This man has outspent Arsenal and Chelsea over the last 5 years, yet he has delivered tow trophies on penalty shoot outs.
Benitez is struggling to keep Alonso and Maschareno at Anfield and has resorted to emotional blackmail to keep them, something that worked with Gerrard but will not work with these guys.
At Chelsea they are still planning on breaking even by the end of next season. There is as much chance of that happening as there is of Tottenham winning the league. Chelsea has shown their intentions by signing three players, two on free transfers and the other a Russian international, all before Ancellotti started work. So at least we know that the manager has little say in who he signs at Chelsea. Meanwhile, it looks like Terry wants another pay increase to stay at the club or he will run to Eastlands and join the Manchester City Arabian revolution.
When you see what is happening at other clubs, we have had a relatively easy summer, but the press will not have any of it, until Wenger brings in a big money signing they will always be on his back and ignore the mess at the other big clubs.
Wenger will bring in one or two more players this summer, but the most important thing is the stability of the squad.
Wenger made an enquiry for Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou last summer, but was knocked back by Chelsea. This week the topic has been revived Salomon Kalou says that it would a be an honour to play for the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, and that he will consider his future with Chelsea at the end of the season.
“He is a very great coach and I know that every single player in the world dreams of playing for Arsène Wenger. I have a lot of respect for him, he is one of the best coaches in the world, so why not?
“I am still under contract with Chelsea, but of course I have plenty of friends who play for Arsenal: Kolo Touré, Emmanuel Eboué and Emmanuel Adebayor. They are achieving huge things at Arsenal and watching them play is just beautiful.”
Wenger has not commented as to whether he will make a bid for Kalou in the summer. Any move for Kalou does not excite me; I don’t think he has done anything special at Chelsea. Kalou has scored 18 goals in 83 appearances, not the type of strike rate that we need.
Chelsea, under a new manager who needs cash to rebuild the squad, Kalou will be more amenable to selling Kalou. All I hope is that it is not Arsenal that buys him. Is he better than any of our existing forwards, not really? Were we to buy a new striker I would prefer that we push the boat out and buy David Villa.