Archive for May, 2012

It’s only been a little over a week since the season has ended and already we have wild speculations where RvP will end up; City, Madrid, Juventus, Milan, Barcelona, Anzhi? Who knows, the possibilities are endless. One thing is for sure though, once one striker moves, the rest will fall into place rather quickly. Why? Because most clubs, unlike Arsenal, like to have their business done BEFORE pre-season starts not AFTER.

Let’s take a look at where each of these strikers could land.

Higuain

For me, this is the one that starts them all. Higuain is second fiddle to Benzema at Real Madrid. Benzema helps on defense, helps with distribution, moves all over the pitch and most of all, does not have the ego Higuain does and lets CR7 be the center of attack, often passing up on a shot to feed Ronaldo. Perez, Madrid’s president, considers Benza his personal project, Mou loves him as well, as do all the players. He is going nowhere and he is first choice as it stands today. This does not sit well with Higuain, who was the most consistent player for Real before any of the current crop of stars arrived with the return of Perez to the presidency. He wants to be the main man up front, and he doesn’t see it coming to fruition while Perez is president and Mou is the manager. The problem is Madrid want him to stay and he does get enough playing time that he is part of a team on the cusp of being great, so the places where he could go to make the same impact, at the same level are limited. The clubs he has been linked to thus far are Man City and PSG. I have been told there has been contact from 6 clubs, none bar those two have been confirmed to me. Real’s stance on Higuain is that they want to keep him, and will only look at alternatives when they see that is no longer a viable option. There is a popular scenario involving Man City, and I’ll cover that below.

Edit #1: This morning a report surfaced that Higuain could be put up for sale along with Kaka and that Real are looking for 80 million euros for the pair. This was reported locally but I have made an enquiry to my one and only source to see if this is real or fabricated, as of the publish of this entry, there has been no confirmation nor denial. Also in a separate report, Juventus move their interest from RvP to Higuain.

Edit #2: This afternoon I received confirmation that Higuain has been a hot topic of debate and that approaches have been made by several clubs, but that the team is indeed trying to convince the player to stay. Apart from that confirmation, a report was published that Higuain’s father met with the Real brass and that he left confident that the best course of action for his son was to stay at Real Madrid, waiting on confirmation of this being legit.

Ibrahimovic

The temperamental Swede is a real enigma. He can be a devastating striker on his day or a spoiled rotten kid at his worst. His talent has never been in question, so there is never a lack of suitors. It is true Mourinho said he admires the striker’s ability, Mancini also praised him, but that is where it stops. There have been no substantiated reports linking Ibra away from the San Siro. I say substantiated reports, because while Real and City have been linked with making offers for the Swede, both clubs through their managers have denied those approaches. Milan’s Massimiliano Allegri has come out and in no uncertain terms stated that he expects the striker to be at the San Siro next year. So it looks as if any and all rumors about the Swede making a move are unfounded, for now. But in modern football as we all know, money talks and Real and City have no problem splashing the cash if necessary and a forced move by Higuain could trigger one for Ibra as well, depending on Higuain’s destination.

Aguero

It is no secret that Aguero was a target of Real Madrid last summer, and that Aguero WANTED to go to Real. Alas, he landed at the Etihad and all seemed to die down. There is only one problem, Aguero still wants a move to the Bernabeu and Real have never lost interest in the striker. With Benzema fulfilling the promise for which he was acquired, the situation was thought to be laid to rest, but Higuain’s frustration has brought the Aguero to Real scenario back to the forefront. Several different outlets have talked about an Aguero for Higuain swap. Aguero’s step dad, Maradona has come out publicly and said Sergio MUST play for Los Blancos. Of course publicly the striker denies this but it is well-known that it is highly possible that Aguero ends up playing for Real Madrid sometime in the future, according to some reporters it is inevitable. Like Ibra’s situation, all of this hinges on whether Higuain forces a move away from Real.

Torres

You would think that a player that was bought only 18 months ago for 50 million pounds would not be involved in ANY sort of transfer talks, especially after his team winning the Champion’s League. This is simply not the case. Torres, despite his horrible form and lackluster numbers (TV5 had more goals than him last season) thinks he should be a shoo-in for the first XI. He has no qualms about telling anyone that will listen that he is being underused and mistreated. (See what he did there Nasri? I don’t know what sort of brainwashing they did to you up at Citeh, but being played is a good thing, sitting on the bench is a bad thing.) Anyway, Torres made it clear that he was unhappy with his situation and open to a move away from the club. All of this is a rather a moot point, as CFC have since confirmed that Drogba will be leaving the club, opening the way for Torres to be hapless at his own peril. The other thing that the Drogba departure does is open the speculation of who they will bring in to replace the Ivorian, and should add to the intrigue of the summer, as we all know Abramovich has no spending limit.

RvP

Finally to Arsenal’s captain. Well, we all know what Arsene’s intention is. he wants to keep the leader of the club, and a player that Arsenal have stuck by through thick or thin. The number of suitors, once thought to be long has since dwindled. First Barcelona was looking to be his likely destination in the winter months, with Cesc being the recruiter. As the months wore on and the interest faded and the reality that they had bigger issues to attend to, FCB looks to be all but out of the equation. Juventus, long rumored, have also stated they have no intention of attempting to sign the Dutchman. Real Madrid’s interest will only be piqued if Higuain forces a move and if that move does not include a swap for Aguero. Milan, also thought to be a possible destination, has pulled out seemingly content to hang on to Ibrahimovic and Pato. So who does that leave? You guessed it City and newcomers to the race Anzhi. I find it very hard to believe that RvP as the captain of Arsenal and as someone who had a first hand view of the reaction fans had to Nasri, would put himself in that same situation. I also have my doubts that Wenger and the board would sell RvP to City, knowing the wrath that they would incur from the supporters. That leaves Russian outfit Anzhi. As familiar as we all are of Robin’s family life, I don’t see any possibility of him going to Russia with wife and kids in tow to play out his years there. That leads to only one conclusion for me, he stays at Arsenal.

Conclusion

My believe at the moment is that RvP will stay at Arsenal, that is of today, what happens tomorrow and beyond can change the game drastically. I base that conclusion on the suitors that are lined up for his signature, as of now. The key factor to all of these strikers making a possible move is the Higuain situation. If that domino falls, the rest will go in short order. That is my view. Madrid won’t stay still and if Robin is offered a huge contract to go to the Spanish capital and Arsenal a huge fee, I can see that as the likeliest of moves. In no way do I see him joining City under ANY circumstance, but if he moves the likely destination is to fill the void left by a departing Higuain, if Aguero isn’t on the other end of deal. Now, do I believe Arsenal will have to pay more than 130k per week? Absolutely. To keep RvP happy I think the Gunners will end up at around 150-160k per week and will have to show a clear sign of intent to hold on to their captain.

So, let’s see how this merry-go-round plays out, or if indeed it gets started at all. One week into the off-season and I am already without any nails. Thanks Arsenal!

Catch you lot soon. Come on you Gunners! Oh yeah, Wenger; Sing M’Vila!!!!

Most Gunner fans know the sordid details of the Cesc transfer through what they learned from the media over in the UK. Information from the Barcelona side would leak out from time to time last year, but it was never really reported fully over there. Why? That’s for the biased reporters in the UK to answer and for me to ask I guess. If you read me over at WTTGT you know I told you that Rossell didn’t want Cesc, that the Cesc transfer was a decision made by Guardiola and that Rosell had to acquiesce due to Pep’s run of trophies and influence. The article I wrote, here, predicted that Pep Guardiola would not make it past this year. So I naturally ask, If I knew this, and it was clear as day, how did Cesc not see what was going on? Well the whole mess starts further back then most understand so we will take it step by step and scandal by scandal and see if we can make any sense of it.

Some of this information I detailed last year in my article and subsequent follow ups, some are new revelations brought out by the Sostres in El Mundo publication and others. So let’s run it down.

From Player To Coach – LaPorta Years

As a player, Pep was given his opportunity to shine by Cruyff, on the FCB “dream team”. He spent 11 seasons in midfield for the Catalan club’s senior side, but 17 years in total as he was also in the famed La Masia academy.  He left at the end of the 2001 season under a cloud of controversy. There was rumor of an undisclosed illness and an intimate relationship with someone within the organization. Rumors of course is what fuels the news cycle over here and at that time it was in overdrive. After a few more years of playing and finally retiring in 2006, Pep was brought back by president Joan LaPorta with Tito Vilanova as his second in command to coach the B team. After only two years in charge, he was chosen as the successor to Frank Rijkaard.

The two subsequent years under then president LaPorta and Pep as coach proved to be FCB’s greatest yet. Winning a slew of trophies and accolades the team was head and shoulders above the rest in Europe. Some say it was both talent and conspiracy pointing to the many referee involvements in their matches, but the technical aspect of their play was never in question. The team had become simply, technically better than the rest and the help that did come from the referees was often a product of their constant pressure and possession. During this period the president along with Tiki Beguiristain, FCB’s sporting director, made sure to go after the targets that Pep requested. It was indeed a team effort in the front office to keep FCB at the top.

In 2010 LaPorta stepped aside after 7 interesting years at the helm of Barcelona. His replacement Sandro Rosell was more businessman than politician, with a much different view of where FCB should go. This was key to the upcoming trials and tribulations that would see many a change at the fame club.

Rosell and Pep Do Battle

Rosell came to the club and quickly began putting the blame of the mounting debt on LaPorta, announcing that he would have to get the club back in order. He then did something most thought unthinkable. Johan Cruyff was the honorary president of FCB, and in one of his first acts as president, Rosell stripped him of that title. A surreal scene followed where Cruyff, flanked by the media showed up at the headquarters of Barcelona to return the honorary title back to the club. A real lack of class that would signal a clear changing of the guard and different purpose going forward for FCB. Taking away his honorary title, marked a clear cut with Barcelona’s past as Cruyff was a legend as a player, coach and council to several presidents. Along with that display, the sporting director that was pivotal in many arrivals to the club, Tiki Beguiristain, left his sporting director’s position after 7 years at the club. All of Pep’s allies at the club, the president that hired him, the sporting director that supported his moves and the coach that gave him his chance were all gone. Pep was left with only the players as his champions and his staff, most notably his number two, Tito Vilanova.

Although the 2011 season brought more success to Barcelona, you could see the beginnings of change. Two players that Pep had brought in only a season earlier were quickly dispatched. Ibrahimovic and Chygrynski. Both were sold off at huge losses. Henry, Toure, Marquez were all given their walking papers out of the club. And several signings that were not 100% “Pep-like” were made in Adriano, Mascherano and Villa. The grumbles of an interior power struggle were already starting to hit the surface, but nothing camouflages that better than winning. The Barcelona trophy machine kept on grinding despite more controversy in the Champion’s League and also domestically. The first sign of trouble was in the semi-final versus Madrid where obvious referee blunders led to FCB progressing. Barcelona would go on to win the CL and their league but then were dealt a small blow when Real Madrid defeated them in the Copa del Rey final.

The summer was full of reports of a clear rift between Rosell and Pep, with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta clearly in the corner of the president, but surprisingly none of this was covered in the UK media. The main issue is that Rosell is an admirer of Brazilian football, he has a clear love of it, and the players he is attracted to and interested in bringing to FCB are not the same ones that Pep had in mind to continue and expand his style of football. Pep wanted Cesc and Cazorla whilst Rosell wanted Sanchez and Neymar.

Here is where Cesc was caught in the middle. The coach of FCB, his idol, wanted him at the club. The president and the sporting director had other targets they were after. Rosell was only one year in and was going against a wildly popular coach and a player that was raised in the famed academy wanting to come home. Rosell simply couldn’t make a stand, but he could prolong the situation by making it financially reasonable for FCB. That is what finally happened. The saga went on for as long as it did because Rosell in essence, didn’t want Cesc at Barcelona. Reporters here said over and over, Cesc would be bought eventually, but it wasn’t a deal that pleased the front office. Subsequently, the hierarchy at FCB were interested, and still are in buying Neymar, which was their top priority last summer and continues to be this summer as well. The other interesting part of this equation is the deal to extend Thiago. He and his brother Rafinha are class players, and knowing Cesc was on the way, their father, Mazinho was worried about the playing time his son would get. Some sort of assurances were made, because shortly before Cesc was signed, Thiago signed a contract extension tying him to the club long-term. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall of that meeting. At last after much fanfare, Arsenal relented and sold Cesc to Barcelona, and into the hornet’s nest walked the Gunner’s ex-captain, happy to do so, but clearly ignorant of the real goings on at the core of the club he longed to return to.

The cracks that were showing before and painted over by the winning continued to manifest themselves despite a busy summer. Barcelona won several Supercopas to start the season and ended it with a defeat of Real Madrid in the league and then Santos to win the Club World Cup. What seemed to be the continuation of their dominance and apparent truce between the factions at FCB, was in all actuality the beginning of the end.

First, injuries began to take a toll on the team. Pep had worked wonders with the lack of bodies he had, but that was always masked by the quality and ability of his players to stay healthy, once the injuries came, the results where up and down and the club was quite a distance behind main rival Madrid. Reports state that as far back as October, Pep already knew he was leaving. Preparations were made to look for a successor whilst the results on the field where less than what Barcelona were used to. Internally there was bickering between president and coach and the atmosphere was less than stellar. The eventual loss to Madrid that sealed the league and then the elimination of FCB by Chelsea in the CL led to a cascade of events that shed light on a host of issues at the club.

Pep to Leave – Betrayal

On the morning after the defeat to Chelsea in the CL, Pep became aware that his number 2, Vilanova, had been in negotiations with Rosell and his staff to succeed Pep. For how long? MONTHS. Apparently Tito had been talking with the sporting director for quite some time. This was a clear betrayal by the second in command and Pep was none the wiser. He asked that his successor not be appointed until he had a chance to speak to him, even though everything was clearly worked out; on the day of the press conference to announce his departure, Andoni Zubizarreta announced Vilanova as the replacement and claimed he had talked to Pep about it. All false. As you can see in the video below, the initial reaction of the announcement by the director catches Pep by surprise…it was yet another stab in the back. By then he knew Vilanova had been negotiating, but in a subsequent press conference he told the media that it was THAT moment he was informed, like the rest of us, that Vilanova would 100% be his successor.

So what brought Guardiola to the decision to leave the club he loved a second time? Much like the first, innuendo was spread that he had an undisclosed illness and the rumor of him having an intimate relationship with someone of the male persuasion in the organization began. All of these rumors began to surface, just as they did when he first left the club as a player. His parting shots to Rosell, according to inside sources, where: “Me iré sin hacer ruido, pero si tú y tus amigos me jodéis, a mí o a los míos, hablaré todo lo que tenga que hablar.” Translated; “I will leave without making a sound, but if you or your friends f$%k with me or mine, I will talk all I need to talk.” Basically insinuating that there is much more under the surface that Pep could divulge about the situation at Barcelona.

Barcelona has since denied these reports and have even sued the paper. There are many reporters that have since collaborated, through their sources, everything that was printed in the Sostres report. These same reporters are now speculating the Vilanova may never manage a single match for Barcelona and others are even saying if these reports are true, Rosell may do well by resigning. This is going to be the summer of discontent for Barcelona and Cesc is caught smack in the middle of a power play. He has been trotted out in front of the media to give his blessing on Vilanova, but you have to wonder what is going through his head. He has already been associated to a “list” of players that are expandable by the current president and his “dream” move may yet prove to be a nightmare.

This also leads us to our present captain. Robin should take heed on the goings on at Barcelona, not because he was ever a real target for them, but to take note that his current situation is one that is stable and can only get better, not worse. Indeed, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

One has to wonder, as I stated earlier in this piece; if I could see what was going to happen, as it was obvious that Pep wouldn’t be at FCB past this year. If an insignificant blogger can see that, just by keeping on top of daily stories, local news, etc. How can an agent or a player not see the same when they are privy to much more information than us? Why would you allow your player to be a pawn in a power struggle? The Barcelona empire is crumbling, piece by piece. Arsenal’s ex-captain is caught in the wreckage and his future is uncertain, but you’ll never hear him say that. The Gunner’s present captain should take notice and sign that extension ASAP. Compared to this, life is great at AFC. Arsenal have nowhere to go but up from here, and looking at this mess, I am glad us as supporters only have to worry about signings and not about internal struggles and power plays.

Be happy Gooners, and be thankful. Come on You Gunners!

3rd place achieved, not much accomplished in the cups, domestic or continental, and yet another year gone by where the opportunity for trophies slips away. That is what is on the surface of this year. The reality is that AW managed to guide a patch group of players through a season filled with land mines, taking hits along the way, but making it through and in familiar territory with much less talent and bodies than most thought he would have available to him throughout. Let’s take the various situations on one by one shall we?

Departures – Arrivals – Injuries – Effect?

Everyone always speaks of Cesc and Nasri, but the reality is that there were many departures both real and virtual over the team that took the field on the first day of 2010. Cesc, Nasri, Almunia, Denilson, Clichy, Eboue, and Bendtner were all part of that team and all were gone in one way or another; sold or loaned out.

The players that were brought in were AOC, Jenkinson, Benayoun, Mertesacker, Gervinho, Arteta, Santos, Park. Some would have a profound effect on the season, whilst others would struggle with the adjustment to the EPL.

The injuries throughout the campaign led to Arsenal playing without any real FBs for over a month, and in the entirety of the season, AW was forced to use 20 different back four combinations and 25 or so different starting XI combinations. The list of players limited by injury this year is just ridiculous. Wilshere, Diaby, Santos, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Arteta, Theo, etc. Most missed extended periods while others missed significant time.

Before and after the season began the media, and MANY supporters had the club pegged to finish 5th or lower, even claiming that Arsenal would have a hard time finishing top half of the table. After the horrid start to the campaign that saw the Gunners yield 7 points out of the first seven matches, it was all doom and gloom and even talk of relegation was in the air. The problem was that no one saw the reality of the situation. The club had injuries, suspensions, shoddy ref calls and half a team to break in; it takes time to get some consistency and continuity.

So, after the horrible start, the Gunners started to put together a string of results and by Christmas the club was on the cups of a top 4 re-entry. Then came the late December and January tailspin that saw Arsenal drift away from the top 4 and even go winless in January in the league. Adding insult to injury the Gunners were bounced from cup play and humiliated in the CL by Milan. Even the short-term arrival of King Henry, while magical, could not stop the terrible slide backward that the team took at this stage of the season.

The lads began February by drawing Bolton, but there began a streak of 8 matches without a loss, winning 7 straight after that result. Arsenal beat the likes of Spurs, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Everton before losing to QPR then coming back and beating eventual EPL champs City. AW decided to change things up a bit, giving TR7 and AOC more playing time and that saw Arsenal come back against the Yids and win 5-2 after going down 2-0 and beating AC Milan 3-0 nearly forcing extra time. So when things looked bleakest Wenger and Co managed to turn things around, and what at one point was a 10 point deficit and 5th place standing turned into 3rd place and a 4 point cushion. A remarkable turnaround especially with the lack of bodies the team had.

The Arsenal most definitely sputtered after this streak and limped home to finish third. The West Brom match yesterday was a microcosm of the season. Horrid start, gritty fight-back, and gut wrenching finish. So after all the departures, all the arrivals and the injuries, what was the outcome of this season?

Surely, after having lost Cesc, the captain, Nasri, Clichy & Co, we certainly did worse than last year of course! Nope. Arsenal finished with more points, a higher place and more goals than a year before.  So much for irreplaceable…

Missed Opportunities

We all know that the club finished 19 points behind the two top teams. But it’s just not as clear-cut as that. As mentioned above, having the turnover last year that the club did, Arsenal still managed a better result, but the lads also did better against top-tier opposition. Taking points against the champions, 4th, 5th and 6th place teams. Were the Gunners were hit hardest was against lower level opposition. That could be due to lack of bodies, or it could be down to lack of concentration, or a little of both, with some ref “help” thrown in for good measure. Let’s look at the matches and the points left on the table.

Blackburn 1 pt – 2 own goals and an offside goal, enough said.

Spurs – 1 pt – Handball control before Van der Vaart’s goal, then celebration in the crowd after, so many things wrong on one play and everything was allowed.

Fulham – 3 pts – A non penalty called, and then a total collapse of concentration in the second match.

City – 1 pt – Clear handball in the area by Richards not called.

Wolves – 2 pts – Several non calls against Wolves and a lack of finish by Arsenal, should have been a 3 pointer easily.

QPR – 3 pts – 2 lapses of concentration by TV5 and a handful of opportunities missed, saw the Gunners dominate and somehow still lose.

Chelsea – 2 pts – A non penalty call, and hitting the woodwork twice, again dominated and came away with a draw.

Stoke – 2 pts – Several opportunities in front of goal missed and some shouts for yet another penalty go unanswered.

Norwich – 2 pts – Inability to close out the match even after a stirring comeback.

So in essence if you look at the manageable matches, between the inability to finish off the match, or the refs being by in large unkind, the club left MANY points on the table. By my count 17 points. That would have put Arsenal right in the thick of the race for the title, and those matches are definitely some where the Gunners can improve next year.

I have mentioned the situation of the refs before, and I will do so once more. Arsenal have had 3 penalties called all year and none at the Emirates. For a team that averages as much possession as the Gunners do and the type of football that is played, by in large in the opponents area, there is just no way that should be the case.

The fact that Arsenal are now getting results once again against the top-tier teams is a great foundation going forward as this is where the trouble was year after year in the “Cesc years”. To improve and regain the dominance over the bottom half of the table couple with the resurgence versus the upper half, next year looks quite promising.

Summer Moves – Final Thoughts

None of us know what Arsenal will do to strengthen the team for next year. We do know Podolski is headed to the Emirates. We know that M’Vila is more than likely to arrive as well. After those two names everything really is up for debate. Does Arsenal add another defender? A creative midfielder? Another striker if RvP doesn’t re-sign, or indeed adding another striker anyway if he does re-sign. The possibilities are endless, specially when we don’t know what will happen with the likes of Arshavin and the rest of the loanees.

One thing is for sure, if Arsenal manage to just have a NORMAL injury season like most teams do, with the reinforcements likely to arrive and the addition of those injured players, next year could well be the start of something special at the Emirates. You have Podolski coming, M’Vila likely on the way, Wilshere hopefully on the mend, Ryo coming back from a succesful loan and the likelihood of other additions, well that makes me one happy Gooner. Another year of CL football, another year finishing above the Yids, and the prospect of having a top team in the coming season, well it just makes me want to take a couple of weeks of and have the season start now, I am sure most would agree with that.

So let’s see what captain Vantastic does in the coming weeks and that will shape the Gunners’ activity during the summer, until then, let’s enjoy this crazy season. Applaud AW and the lads for somehow avoiding most of the land mines and turning in a brave performance to land where the club belongs but where many never thought they would finish. What a great feeling to shut up the non believers and negative, biased, journos.

I will be chiming in and again as news warrants. Come on You Gunners!

 

 

See what I did there? I took the circumstances of these stories and instead of being anti Arsenal, as most of the “professional” media tend to be(in my estimation anyway), I decided to see how the headline would look from a pro Arsenal view. Funny how easily perception shifts and you feel better about the stories with only a few changes in the wordage.

Now to the stories themselves.

Vertonghen

The Ajax captain did not want for suitors, he had several clubs chasing him. One of those clubs was Arsenal. He dropped many hints that first, the EPL would be his likely landing spot, eliminating various Italian clubs and Barcelona. Then he was quoted touting his admiration for the Gunners. Everything looked good and there was a clear possibility that he might land at the Emirates. Somewhere along the line, the deal took a turn and it seems Arsenal pulled out of the race, not Vertonghen deciding he was not going to play for the Gunners. The sticking point, finally came out the other day when the man player spoke and it was understood that his main concern would be playing time. Something we all know Arsene does not guarantee. So in essence, there was an interested team, an interested player, and a club resigned to losing that player. The transfer fee was manageable and the player of high enough quality. Good all around, until the issue of playing time arose and there is where everything broke down. Now you have the player singing his admiration for Spurs and their history, that’s a laugh. Hazard part deux anyone? For me that is a pass by the club, not a rejection by the player.

It’s all in how you spin it isn’t it?

M’Vila

There are many news agency that came out over the last few days stating that Arsenal were set to sign the talented midfielder. The French press in particular seemed to think the deal was all but done. The news made the rounds and all Gooners, including this one, rejoiced. Then came a single report, from one lone voice saying the deal was a rouse by the player’s agent to facilitate a bid from Italian giants Inter and that Arsenal were indeed not interested in the player, recently put off by his arrest. Now, I have a huge problem with all of this and I will tell you why.

Quick Background

Arsenal have scouted M’Vila for the better part of 18 months. There was a bid rejected last summer as Rennes tried to keep the player on a long-term basis, a plan that failed to materialize. Now realizing that they have a player with eyes elsewhere and will lose him in the future on a free if they don’t sell, they are open to a deal, but there are limited parties willing to pay what he is worth and have a need at that position. Add to this that M’Vila himself has said he considers it a priority to play for a French coach and has on numerous occasions touted Arsenal as one of his desired destinations, although he did also mention Madrid and Inter as two other clubs that interest him. But in essence, the club likes and wants the player, and the player in turn is open to a move.

Recent Issues

M’Vila was arrested last week after slapping a teenager. Some say it was his sister’s boyfriend that had somehow disrespected her, some say it was a trusted friend of M’Vila that had violated his trust. Whatever the story, it certainly is not the greatest of situations for a player on the move. This arrest is also just the latest off the field issue with the player, as he had previously been involved in a sordid story having been robbed by a prostitute. Now I am not going to judge him on either, but these are clearly issues that could well lead to hesitation by ANY club to proceed with this signing. As we all know how Arsene does not like that type of controversy, I could see a situation where this could be a case of slight hesitation by Arsenal.

Reported Deal – Reported Disinterest

The reports out of France came from Julien Laurens, a reporter with ties with many French clubs, agents and players. He stated that the deal was all but done, the exact quote being; “Very busy yesterday working on M’Vila story. 22 million euros [£17.7m], 4 years. Great signing for Arsenal and player is delighted.” The other catch seemed to be that the deal may have been dependant on the Gunners securing a CL spot, but that the player may sign anyway without it. Gunners everywhere toasted as Arsenal apparently had captured a much-needed piece of the puzzle to get back into contention, but then came another story.

A day later, a reporter from the London Evening Standard, James Olley stated that the deal had fallen through on both ends. He claimed that Arsenal were no longer interested in the player due to his recent arrest and that the news of the impending deal came from the players camp to get Inter to pony up an offer. This coming from a reporter that just last year proceeded with a story claiming the Gunners had signed G. Cahill from Bolton when the Gunners where looking to shore up their defense.

Conclusion

We all understand that journalists sometimes get it wrong, they are privy to what their contacts tell them and not to the actual goings on inside the club. We must all read between the lines and see the reality of the situation based on prior situations and the modus operandi of that particular club. So what do I think happened or IS happening?

I believe the club want the player, and in turn that the player wants the move to the Emirates. I also know that Madrid, based on people I have talked to, have little interest in signing M’Vila based on their needs for a right back and trying to shore up their leaky defense, so that leaves Arsenal and Inter. Inter have had a lackluster season and have little to play with financially unless they move some pieces themselves; so that in essence puts Arsenal in the driver’s seat for this deal. You then have to look at M’Vila’s recent arrest and the obvious NEED Rennes have to move the player or otherwise risk keeping him as he is openly seeking a move elsewhere and then possibly losing him on a free later; a situation that is neither good for club or player alike, ie Cesc/Nasri. All of this taken into account I believe that a deal is all but done, that Arsenal are using the arrest and the power they have due to all of the factors mentioned to spend less money to secure the deal. It is Arsene transfer policy 101. I believe the club is trying to complete the deal with lower transfer fee and that eventually the sides will agree. I also believe that the club could well be denying interest and saying they’ll look elsewhere, to help reinforce their already powerful position. Their could also be a situation where the info was leaked by M’Vila’s camp to draw up some attention from Inter, or another suitor, to force Arsenal’s hand. Whatever the case may be, we will never actually know the truth. To me that truth, lies somewhere in the middle of the many reports, the two reports mentioned in particular.

After all the years of reading rumours, seeing how Arsenal deal with transfers and how the eventual transfers happen, I do see M’Vila signing, sometime in August, after another prolonged series of events. Or he could well not sign and we find out that Arsene overplayed his hand and Inter(or another club) come in and pip the deal, and make out like bandits on player and transfer fee alike, one can never discount that outcome.

In the end with both situations, Vertonghen and M’Vila, we will never know what really happened, and we are all at the mercy of the media to tell us THEIR version of events. If we read between the lines though, it is easy to see that the truth is not always as simple as black and white, bias plays a big role when it comes to these journalists reporting “the truth” or as I like to say, their version of reality.

Let’s hope Arsenal land one of these two yeah, (M’Vila, please for the love of God!!!)? Come on you Gunners!