Posts Tagged ‘Real Madrid’

Yesterday there was a report from the journalist Paco González of Cadena COPE/Mediaset Sport that our very own Arsène Wenger had “phoned” Karim Benzema in an attempt to convince him to move to Arsenal. As it is summer time and the typical crazy transfer season mentality takes over conventional, rational thinking, not many people bothered to see what else the journalist had to say about the situation.

Let’s just begin with what was actually said and the proper translation of it.

Paco

Paco Gonzaléz has assured that Arsenal have called Karim Benzema this summer to convince him to leave Real Madrid but that the forward has rejected any proposal.

“Benzema has rejected Arsenal. There has not been a formal offer to Real Madrid, but this summer Wenger has called for the second straight year.” said the reporter on Cadena COPE where he explained that “the rumour that was going around (implied) was for Dzeko, but in the club they have it clear that it’s neither Dzeko nor anyone else.”

Now. You can plainly see that even though a call was supposedly made, there was an outright rejection, and for the second summer running. I won’t get into the implied tapping up that occurred here, so let’s move on. I find it interesting, as I have told several people, that Madrid had several objectives for the summer and when they saw those objectives weren’t going to be possible, they moved to plan B which was to concentrate on role players and shoring up certain areas of the pitch, which they have done and likely will continue to do. The last bit about Dzeko was a rumour that was floating around about Real Madrid looking at a certain striker and Paco saying that it was dismissed. He went on to clarify that Madrid are not interested in Dzeko or anyone else but still remain intrigued by Castilla prospect Borja Mayoral if they do have a need for a striker. If you are to believe the above report from Paco, you have to believe the entirety of it. You can’t pick and choose what to believe.

Some will say “But remember Özil said he wasn’t going to leave in a press conference!” Yes, that was outwardly in a public setting & while speaking to the press where, despite what is going on behind the scenes, Madrid like to keep everything looking all proper and tidy. Despite him saying this, behind the scenes for the better part of a week, the negotiations where already being finalized for his move. In this instance nothing is being played out publicly so Benzema telling Wenger/Arsenal no over the phone isn’t for theatre. There is no audience to pander to.

Furthermore, the recently extended Benzema is very happy in the Spanish capital and is ready to fight for his place (which Paco alluded to by saying he would indeed have to win his place) and for his squad, Perez still believes in him, and an internal memo conducted by Benitez and staff came to the conclusion that overuse of star players caused timely injuries that led to the trophy-less season. Can things change? Of course they can, but not likely to.

So once again we have a certain part of the media and a certain part of social media that take only the parts of the reports they like and disregard the others. When one starts to edit out parts of reports to suit their wants, I guess you can see how they’ll believe anything.

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I don’t even know where to start. Various outlets that shall not be named come out to say he’s been lacklustre. Some supporters have stated that he’s not been worth the fee paid.  It seems there is some widespread disappointment of Mesut’s opening months of the season. Where did it all go wrong? Well that’s easy to pinpoint, people at every level not understanding what the player brings and what’s been missing from the team to optimize his performances.

Özil’s “pros” run deeper than X goals, X assists, X chances created, X passing percentage,  although those are not too shabby. According to Squawka those numbers currently sit at 4 goals, 7 (others list 8) assists, 51 chances created(the most in Europe) and 88% passing percentage in 17 league appearances. Add to this tally 6 pre-assists or second assists, like the one he had versus Villa when he sent Monreal in who squared the ball for Jack’s goal.

I had the privilege of watching the player live on a number of occasions whilst I lived in Madrid and was always taken aback by how easy he made everything look. I want to delve deeper into what he brings to the Arsenal squad that just isn’t clicking at the moment which has opened the door for these silly complaints from supporters and pundits alike.

Clinical Forwards – Midfield Shooters – Runners 

Özil is lacking three types of players that would benefit from his superb passing and eye for space. The first type is a clinical striker. Giroud, for all his work-rate, combination and hold-up play, is not a clinical striker. He currently sits second from bottom in conversion rate of the top EPL clubs strikers, with a staggeringly low 12.5%, only Soldado is worse; here. Let that sink in. If you go back and watch past matches you will see a multitude of Özil’s passes that have made their way to Giroud in scoring positions only for him to squander those opportunities or not read the play properly and not receive the ball at all. Theo Walcott was a bit better at 15.2%. Bendtner was the best in his limited appearances with a percentage of 25%. The signing of a premier finisher would help Özil and by default, the club.

The second type of player that Arsenal lack at times are midfielders who actually shoot the ball. For all the creativity in the team, the Gunners still want to walk the ball into goal at times. It was refreshing to see earlier in the season Ramsey and in recent weeks Jack then Santi make this less of an issue, but overall it is a problem more often than not. How many times have you sat and watched a match and yelled – “SHOOT!!!”?  Özil himself is guilty of this at times, but coupled with others that do the same, it can lead to long periods of frustration as we have witnessed. A bit more aggressive approach could make all the difference.

The third type of player is a pacey runner that can get behind defences. Arsenal have the poster boy for this type of player, Theo. Unfortunately he’s not been on the field with Özil enough to see that combination thrive as it will in the future. Fortunately with the emergence of Gnabry and the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain, we may yet get to see that type of combination this year. Özil is at his best moving the defence with his quick touches and subtle runs, then unleashing a killer pass for a runner that leaves him clear on goal, there was evidence of that in the match versus Sunderland where he put Theo through several times but the finishing simply wasn’t there. Once this relationship starts to develop, it’ll bring out the best in all parties involved.

Chess –Adapting to a New League – New Teammates 

One of the things I see that brings a smile to my face is how clever the player is. He can move a defence with a deft touch, a slight turn, or a quick pass. The problem is that his new league is not necessarily faster than La Liga, but certainly more physical, and he’s still adjusting to that. He plays chess out on the pitch and his teammates are not quite in tune with him as of yet which leads to misplaced passes, runs that never come, etc. Everything seems to be one step off at the minute, but when it clicks it will be deadly and precise.

In matches where some deem he’s not made a dent, they don’t pay attention to the quick passes that create space for others to make a play. They ignore the runs he makes that pull a couple of defenders with him or the slight turn that makes a defender hesitate and leaves a teammate free to go clear on goal. Those plays don’t show up in the stats and hardly anyone talks about them which is a shame, but if they paid closer attention, one can better appreciate how he can subtly affect the match without having a direct impact.

Mesut also commented the other day on how he was impressed with Rosicky and how he enjoyed playing alongside him. This isn’t a surprise because in many ways, they play very similarly. One thing that strikes me is the tempo at which TR7 plays – always driving forward. This is the same tempo Özil had at Madrid and Germany. I’ve yet to see MÖ go full-out at that speed with Arsenal. I don’t know if that’s due to him wanting to play at the pace of his teammates, if he’s trying to play more within himself or if it’s just a matter of acclimation or system. If Arsenal can play more up-tempo I think you could see the best of Mesut sooner rather than later, and the best of the team as we witnessed in the second half Saturday versus Fulham. Özil and the team as a whole suffer at a lower pace.

Fear

One thing you can’t measure with any stats is the fear he instills in the opposition. The opposition know they must watch him closely, they know of his quality and likely game-plan for it. You only have to look at what Mourinho said about the player prior to the league meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea in December: “I think I know how to try to stop him to be in the game 90 minutes, with 90 minutes of direct influence. But it’s impossible to stop him for 90 minutes, because these kind of players they will have always a moment or a couple of moments where you cannot stop them and they end up showing why they are so good. To stop him completely, I don’t believe we can.”

That kind of respect and necessity for planning can’t be measured and that’s what a talent like Özil brings to the table. The fear factor that can lift a whole squad as it has since his arrival.

Conclusion

At the end of the day there are some things that are clear. The player isn’t playing at 100% yet but that’s due to several factors as I’ve mentioned. Some can be easily tweaked and better results can be had right away. Others will take a signing or two to fix and we’ll see that in the future. But one thing is clear above all else, if you are one of those complaining about Özil or making a statement that he hasn’t been worth the money – You don’t know Özil…and likely you don’t know football as it’s meant to be played.

The best is yet to come from both player and club. It’ll be fun when things click, don’t blink – you might just miss it. Up the Arsenal!

There has been much said in the British media about a possible raid on Real Madrid by our beloved club.

What is reality? What is media garbage? Where are these links coming from? Let’s look at the four players linked and the reality of the situation.

Casillas – This is the most far-fetched rumour. The likelihood that Lopez keeps Casillas out of the GK duties much longer is small. The only way he would move anywhere is if Ancelotti where to tell him, flat-out, he’s #2 and had no chance, unless injury played a part, to regain his spot. Even then, I see it as an unlikely scenario this late in the window. Let’s say it where to happen, that scenario would see one of the top 3 GK’s in the world(if not the best when on form) on the market and would incite a bidding war Arsenal are unlikely to win. He would be valued above 30m€ in any case. RM is under no obligation to sell with his contract running through 2017.

Benzema – This is the second of unlikely scenarios. Despite being booed by supporters at the Bernabeu, one has to understand that under dire circumstances the likes of Ronaldo, Iker, Ozil, and many others have been booed at one time or another by a very fickle audience. So this has no bearing on his situation, as he’s been cheered many more times than booed. That said, he is also the special project of president Perez and now assistant coach Zidane, without even mentioning the fact that Madrid are his boyhood favorites. There is little chance he leaves, with Madrid having sold Higuain to a view of depending on Benzema, Jese and Morata to fill the position until next year when RM look to add a world-class striker; widely rumoured to be Falcao. Add to this the news that youth team product Alvaro Morata is likely to leave for Espanyol on loan and chances that Benzema is leaving have shrunk even more from the minuscule possibility it was before. Under an increasingly long shot scenario that the striker is sold, he would be valued above 40m€. His agent has also come out recently and proclaimed to be working with the club for an extension.

Ozil – Whilst I also find this move unlikely to occur, it is definitely more possible than the first two. Ozil is very finicky and likes to play in the hole, behind the striker and is unhappy on the wings or being substituted as evidenced last night. Yesterday Ozil was subbed, he shook Ancelotti’s hand, went to the changing room to shower, changed and sat with teammates until the final whistle. Instead of going to the changing room once more, he elected to go straight to the team bus foregoing the mix-zone and speaking with the media. He later tweeted, “6 points in two matches, That is what’s most important.” Earlier it was rumoured that Ozil’s agent, being in the process of working with RM over an extension created rumours of false interest from United and this supposedly angered Madrid. This is what is said to have made the Spanish giants open to a sale. His value would be above 45m€. Madrid have a wealth of midfield depth, so unless a huge offer came in, they’re likely to move a lesser valued member of the squad on.

di Maria – Out of the four players, this is the only name that has been mentioned since the beginning of the summer as a departing player as well as the only player whose initial story was reported from Spain, not Britain. I believe this to be the only clear-cut option of the four. di Maria is a good player, but with the pending arrival of Bale, is seen as surplus as there are many players in Madrid that can play a variety of positions. He has started both matches thus far, but his latest match last night is widely reported to be his last for the club. There has been reported interest from PSG, Galatasaray and other clubs. Most seem to think Arsenal has put in a bid widely reported as “favorable” to Madrid. Only time will tell. His value is at a little over 30m€.

Transfer windows are full of wild speculation and misinformation but most of all, agendas. Why would the British press continuously link Arsenal to names that have very small chances of moving? Ask yourself why AFC losing to Villa is seen as a club in crisis, but City losing to Cardiff is seen as a top effort by a small club? The agenda is clear and has been for some time, so take everything you read with a grain of salt.

To recap, I believe the only name that is possible is di Maria. Ozil may be a possibility but Arsenal would have to nearly triple their transfer record fee to secure that signature. Casillas and Benzema I see as nonsense at this time.

Whoever it is, I expect AFC to sign some players after securing CL group stage football tonight! UTA, COYG!

I wrote this and it was first published on arsenalvision.co.uk a while back. I went into it with some information given to me at the time and added my two cents. I meant for this piece to be opinionated but certainly not positive or negative. Somehow along the way, which is the norm these days, people took it as a negative. Why? I don’t know. Somehow I was also accused of having a “Madrid agenda” lol laughable.

Anyway, clear your head of bias, have a read and let me know what you think!!

Arsene Wenger has been at the middle of everything Arsenal since 1996. He reshaped the team, the club, the culture. He took a great thing and made it greater. Most love him, some hate him (now), but all must admit he has brought much to North London and has literally helped reshape the skyline.

Ultimately though, as fickle as supporters are these days, legacy means nothing to them, it is primarily a “what have you done for me lately” attitude and the truth is Arsene hasn’t done much but hang on. Maybe hanging on to past glories has cost the club trophies that should now be in the trophy cabinet. Maybe the board giving its accountant, ermmm, excuse me, its manager so much leeway has led to these “down” times. I put down in quotation marks because success is relative. If Arsenal were a lesser club no trophies in 8 years would be okay as long as that CL paycheck kept coming in. But in the end, Arsenal are Arsenal and 8 years without a trophy after going to the highest levels of every competition is simply not enough. Not for the 5th richest football club in the world and for one of the most successful football clubs on the continent.

All that said, people have differing views on the subject. Some say Wenger must be given a chance to turn it around. Others say Wenger must change. A growing minority say Wenger must go! And they may yet get their wish.

I have a source that works for RMFC, I have mentioned him before and his tidbits of information have always been very informative. Now this source claims that Mourinho is set to go from Real this summer. The divide between players and coach is too great for Florentino Perez to salvage.  Incidents with Ramos, Casillas and many others internally have left the team in disarray and many inside the organization, quietly, blame that rift for the current league standing of the historic club. As of today they are in 3rd place, 16 points off leaders FC Barcelona.

What does this have to do with AFC? What does this have to do with Wenger? Well, it is very interesting indeed.

As Madrid outwardly deny all rumors of fights, rifts, arguments, etc.; they are internally preparing themselves for the inevitable. The team has assembled a list of possible replacements and targets. The name at the top of that list is none other than AW, Arsenal’s main man. The information given to me is that Real are not so much concerned by FFP, but annoyed by it. If you recall it is Florentino Perez that began speaking out about a possible “Super League”, were the best from each country would breakaway from UEFA’s Champion’s League format and face each other. Perez felt that UEFA had mishandled the CL and wanted to ensure the “best play the best”. Now that plan has been all but forgotten and Real are bracing themselves for some sort of FFP implementation. Perez is after a replacement that will develop the highly touted youth ranks at Madrid and see through footballers that would, by the current culture at RMFC, be sold before they are ever given a chance to shine at the Bernabeu. The imagination of Florentino Perez has been and is currently reported to be intrigued about what Wenger could do with Madrid’s talent, youth system and hefty budget.

Perez has been a longtime admirer of Wenger, and as most remember, has been after the Frenchman for quite some time. With his contract up in 18 months’ time, Real, much like it was reported PSG were ready to do, may in fact table a compensation package to see if they can pry Arsene away from the Emirates to the Spanish capital. There are no figures in place yet for the possible offer, but it is being talked about. Will it ever materialize? Will we ever know? Those are questions for the summer. But the fact that a team like RMFC is after Wenger, as well as others such as PSG – as reported in December, makes you think if the Wenger Out Boys have got it wrong.

I am not defending Arsene. Primarily these past couple of years he has made many questionable tactical decisions, ridiculous substitutions, and does himself no favors when he speaks to the media. That said, I, like many sane Gooners, don’t put ALL the blame on him alone. He may make MANY key decisions, but there are many people in the background agreeing with those decisions that have the power to override or at the very least check and balance them. So in essence, there is MUCH blame to go around and many parties where that blame lies at Arsenal.

This is intriguing news and gives much to think about the next few months. Are we watching the last months of the Wenger Era at Arsenal? Will “Le Prof” turn away the Spanish giants once again? This may shape up to be the most intriguing summer yet for the Gunners, with the possibility that they lose their manager this time around. As he is intricately tied to every single decision down to what toilet paper is used (sarcasm), it may take many years to reorganize the club. Reorganization may work wonders and turn out well, but what if it doesn’t? It’s easy to sit and make a banner, it’s easy to sit at a desk or a couch and type “Wenger Out”. It’s much more difficult to make those decisions with human beings in the line of fire and emotions of years of attachment as well. Reality is a cruel thing and perceptions are often wrong.

You say Wenger Out, I say it may happen. No one knows what happens at AFC afterwards if it does indeed occur. Be careful what you wish for, you may not like the result.

Well, well, well.

As late as Tuesday morning it all looked well for Arsenal. Terms were agreed to verbally, all looked ready to progress nicely, then something happened.

What that something is, we will never know, at least not for a while. I have written before what really happened with Mata last year, not the concocted fiction fed to supporters last year, but the real story, and this is not that. But it feels awfully close.

From the details emerging it seems that money played the biggest part in this, but in essence that wasn’t the main reason, but it certainly played its part.

Liverpool are stumping up 5m£ for the loan fee and paying Sahin his 120£ p/w wage. There are conflicting stories, some reporting that LFC will have a 15m£ buy option, some saying they don’t.

The stumbling block to the deal for AFC was the inclusion of said buy option, so I would highly doubt that it would be included in a deal with LFC.

Sahin has always made it clear, he wanted to stay at Real. In essence he is being pushed out of the Bernabeu, told to get better and try again next year to earn a spot. He was willing to play LB, he was willing to be a sub, he was willing to sit again all year instead of move, this is not a choice he wants to make.

In the end LFC won out doing what LFC is famous for these day; mismanaging funds and putting themselves in a position to fail from the start. They won’t keep him at the end of the year and he will have another go at RMFC, that is the likeliest scenario, given all of his comments. For their part Real Madrid have publicly(and privately) stated that to be their intention too.

So Arsene and Arsenal passed on a deal that would cost in the region of 10m£ for the year, loan fee and wages. Then would develop a player for another club, would end up relying on said player only to ship him back at the end of the year. Basically a one year mercenary to the tune of 10m£.

I for one like the player, but just reading the words in the previous paragraph you ought to know, like I do, that this would have been a horrible deal for Arsenal to match. Obviously so did Wenger, so it’s now time to move on.

I expect to see at least two signings before the window closes, too bad Sahin wasn’t one of them. In the end, Arsenal may have just avoided a bigger headache than some realize. Look at the reaction from many supporters on not taking this bad deal…now imagine those same whiners at the end of the year complaining about how 10m£ was misspent and how stupid Arsene could be not getting a buy option for the player.

It was a no win scenario for Arsenal and Wenger decided to leave his checkbook in his pocket and save the funds for a permanent deal, I can’t say I blame him. So let’s move on from this, if the deal didn’t get done it’s because it wasn’t a good deal for us, I can live with that. So should you.

Now imagine the surprise we all will have if this takes another unlikely twist! Ha.
COYG!

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!!!!

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!