Friday 24 August 2012

Who's won the Nuri Sahin race? Other options for Arsenal?

It's anyone's guess, The Independent reckon Sahin's bound for Arsenal, as does De Bild. But the Daily Star and The Guardian disagree.

I thought Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho didn't care where Sahin headed, so it's a bit mystifying to hear he's chosen Liverpool, given the player's supposed preference for Arsenal. Islington has some of the best Turkish restaurants in the country, so surely he should have chosen north London!

It sounds like it's a money thing as usual. Arsenal were offering to contribute less to Sahin's £120k per week wages than Liverpool, so clearly Real would be stupid to loan to the lowest bidder! The move was complicated by the 'fact' that Arsenal wanted the chance to make the deal permanent at the end of the season for a fixed fee. Of course, that would involve more risk for Real's point of view, as if Sahin excelled in the Premier League and then had to be sold for, say £14m, they'd end up with egg on their face. This way, they're more likely to be winners as if Sahin rips up trees in English football, his sale price will rocket. And apparently, he'll be virtually guaranteed playing time at Anfield, so that's another plus as far as Real and Sahin are concerned. Of course, we missed out on Kevin Mirallas for same reason, as he opted for Liverpool's local neighbours Everton with the promise of more 'game time' than he would get at Arsenal. Maybe Arsenal's negotiators need to 'sweet talk' players a bit more to get them to sign on the dotted line!

We've not been able to do that and missed out on Everton's Phil Jagielka, apparently. Our first approach was in 2010, so the story goes, but we just can't get him to come 'down south'. Sounds a bit unlikely to me, but perhaps there is some truth in it. He's the kind of player I'd sign, as he's versatile enough to even play in goal, if required. Anyway, I just can't see it happening.

The same goes for Newcastle's Chiek Tiote. I saw a rumour on a Newcastle website and next thing the media were running the story that Arsenal are chasing him. If we were chasing his midfield partner, Yohan Cabaye, I'd find that a lot more believable, as he's a class act and won't get booked every other game like Tiote.

Anyway, it's all a bit worrying, as we expected Sahin not Tiote to fill the 'void' left by Alex Song's departure. We were pinning our hopes on adding to our central midfield ranks, so I'm not sure why some media sources consider winger Jesus Navas as a replacement for Song if the Sahin deal falls through. Navas might be a good use of the money burning a hole in Arsene Wenger's pocket, but he'd only be a like-for-like replacement for 'contract rebel' Theo Walcott. I write that epithet in inverted commas as I think it's a bit premature to call Theo  names given that it's by no means clear whether or not Theo will be walking the Mathieu Flamini walk to another club on a free come the end of the season. I suspect he will stay or be sold. If I had to bet on it, I'd say Theo will stay. But then again, if he feels unappreciated by our fans, who knows what he'll decide to do. If I took the flak he's taken, I'd be tempted to leave on a free. His pace makes him a saleable asset, but once again the club have been remiss in allowing his contract to run down.

Arsenal have to do something to ensure that history doesn't keep repeating itself. It's embarrassing and counter-productive to have our first-team players leaving every summer under a cloud of controversy.

Nevertheless, I don't completely buy into those stories about Song being 'dying to sign a new contract' before his sale to Barcelona. Yes, he probably wanted more than the £55k per week he was on. But his 'dying' wish was probably to feather his own nest. It never seemed to me that he was 'dying' to stay at Arsenal.

I know I've been hyper-critical of the board at times, but I can't imagine anyone feeling the need to 'cover his a***' when it comes to the Song sale. The club did the right thing. Song had 3 years to run on his deal, so why should the club sit down and discuss a new one? Why did Song's representative try to renegotiate six times with Arsenal? I'm not anti-football agents or anything, but this kind of thing smacks of greed. Good riddance, I say!

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