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.
So Clichy has left and gone to Manchester City for £7M and apart from Arsenal fans nobody is crying over this departure.
When Gael first burst onto the scene we thought we found the perfect replacement for Ashley Cole, and whilst Clichy had speed to close players down, he offered little going forward. Look at the number of goals he scored in his Arsenal career, 1. Clichy failed to get into the penalty area unlike Cole who liked nothing better than to be in the area looking for a far post goal.
All the fuss this summer has been about Wenger getting Nasri to sign a new contract, there have been no press stories about Clichy being offered a new contract. There have been some reports that Clichy was not even offered a new contract.
Wenger has looked as the sleepy performances by Clichy, the number of goals given away by Clichy’s sloppy marking or the number of times he has given the ball away and has decided you can go.
At the club we have Kierran Gibbs, a more attacking player than Clichy will ever be, a great deliverer of the ball and a player who will look to score. Gibbs is as good a defender as Clichy is and will only get better. More importantly Gibbs is English and has come through the Arsenal ranks, so the club means more to him than it does for too many of our foreign mercenaries. Gibbs just needs to be injury free and by December we will not even remember Clichy.
The annual exodus form the Arsenal playing staff is about to start with Cesc ready to seal a £40M transfer to Barcelona this weekend. This is not a major surprise, but will he be greeted on his return as Vieira, Toure and Henry were, or will it be another Anelka, Adebayor return?
Manchester City are rumoured to be on the verge of signing Clichy for £7M. To me this is not a problem, Clichy is a poor replacement for Ashley Cole and Gibbs will grow into a better left-back than Clichy could ever become.
The Nasri saga has taken a new twist with Manchester City reported to be ready to offer £20M. Nasri is in the last year of his contract and £20M to Manchester City will be a good price. Nasri has been plagued by injuries at Arsenal and his form has been erratic, perhaps this is because he has not played in his favoured central midfield position. I would like Nasri to stay and perhaps the arrival of Gervinho will persuade him to sing a new contract, with a “gentleman’s agreement” with Wenger that he can leave next summer if we do not win anything!
If Wenger sold these three plus a few other players Bendtner (£8M), Denilson (£5M), Eboue(£8M) and Arshavin(£12M), his transfer budget will be £100M, yes £100M, what damage could he do in the market with this fund?
What Arsenal must ensure is that we are not in the same situation next summer with players in their last season of their contract. The two players that have two years left on their contracts are Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott. They need to be offered bumper contracts now not half-way through the season.
Next week should see the long awaited announcements of Gervinho, Cahill, Alvarez and Oxlade-Chamberlain joining the club, for a combined sum of £49M. So it is not all gloom and doom. The buying should not stop with these players. Other targets need to include Juan Mata of Valencia, Christopher Samba , Jose Enrique and possibly Benzema.
On the transfer rumour front the story that we are looking at John O’Shea for £7M is the most worrying. This guy is just younger version of Silvestre, another disaster waiting to happen. Why would we finance Manchester United to the tune of £7M for one of their reserves?
However, what is worrying is the statement from Arsene in a French newspaper that he will very active towards the end of July. This is not the statement Arsenal fans want to hear. To buy players a couple of weeks prior to the season starting is madness; get your players in early. Pre-season matches are designed to ensure players understand each other.
Arsene this could be your last summer at Arsenal, ensure you buy wisely and quickly. You have had since March to weigh up your targets, just get on with the job of securing them now.
It’s the great Arsenal defence clearance.
After Eboue was linked with Fiorentina and the Italians expecting to make a move this week, we anxiously await to hear the fait of Phillipe Senderos. Wenger has stated that the Swiss centre-back has several offer s and the final decision will be made by Senderos.
Arsenal can expect to sell the two defenders for a combined fee of £14million.
Today the newspapers, radio and television have gone Toure mad. Some papers state that talks between Arsenal and Manchester City are “at an advanced stage”. The fee is expected to be in the region of £14million. This is a transfer that would be had for Arsenal fans to accept, especially as we will be helping one of our rivals push us for one of the Champions League. The story of Toure to Man City almost happened in January but Wenger persuaded Toure to stay, but for how long it was not sure.
The transfer of Toure will leave us somewhat short of players at the back.
Thomas Vermaelen will need time to acclimatise with the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. William Gallas, well he is a great defender, but nobody knows what the future holds for Gallas. He has stated he wants to stay at Arsenal, but his contract expires next summer. Mikael Silvestre had a horrific first season at Arsenal. He did not show us any experience, in fact our record with Silvestre in the team was a disaster. Silvestre also suffered from plenty of injuries. He is another player whose contract expires next summer.
Johann Djourou is a great prospect, strong, fast good in the air, but will this be the season that he makes the step and becomes an Arsenal regular or will he flit in and out of the team? Djourou is that player for the future, let us hope that future stats this August.
The other option for Arsene is Alex Song. Song is a player who has performed well at the back and in central midfield; this has left Wenger with a dilemma, where to play the Cameroon international.
That Toure will leave is almost a foregone conclusion. Arsenal need to extract as much money as possible from Manchester City, with the possibility of bringing Micah Richards to Arsenal as part of the deal. Richard will provide cover for Sagna and adequate centre-back cover.
Wenger must add to our defence when Toure leaves, if it is not Richards, then it has to be Hangeland. Failure to recruit will leave us exposed.