I have been meaning for quite some time to write about Arsenal. So much to say, so little space. This is not the time to go into it all. In fact I just want to take a recent incident involving every Arsenal fan’s favourite player Samir Nasri.
Here is the situation as I understand it. Arsenal bought the guy in 2008. His contract will run out in 2012. For half of last season the guy was one of the best players in the country, creating, scoring, mesmerising viewers with his abilities. If the rest of the team played half as well they would not be in their current predicament. So with Arsenal flattering to deceive again, and other clubs looking to make progress and crucially Nasri not signing an extension to his contract he is the subject of much speculation.
The two Manchester clubs and even Chelsea have been linked with him with prices starting at 20 million. Quite a lot for a player in his last year. Wenger, understandably presents the front that Nasri remains and will remain an Arsenal player. I find the position brave but somewhat delusional. Maybe that’s in the job description for the modern manager.
Up pops everyone’s favourite manager Bobby Mancini saying blatantly that he hopes City can sign Nasri as they need him to strengthen the side. Lets not get into how Nasri would fit. The issue is that in making such a statement he has aroused the ire of Wenger. (That should surely be the cue for dramatic music and a thunder clap.) Wenger suggests that Mancini has broken the rules in talking about signing a player under contract to another club.
I was not around when the conventions were agreed. I can understand that to respect other clubs transfer proceedings must be done through the proper channels. For all that, I think Wenger is getting himself all in a tizz for absolutely nothing. The power lies with the club who can force Nasri to see out the last year of his contract. The player has a card to play by submitting a transfer request and seeing what the club does after that. It does not stop a club expressing an interest, especially if that club has more to offer in ambition and of course wages. You might not like that but then it’s your job to get something from the player one way or another.
It is naieve to believe players are not aware of their worth and those who desire them. Old timers can mourn the loss of the good old days before the evil agents came and twisted everything. In reality though, the economics of the game inevitably means a player must know his worth, and with a career that can be cut short in a moment, he must maximise his worth. I would love to believe things like loyalty and honouring contracts are values worth upholding. Yet when clubs look at their players as assets to be dismissed when their usefulness is used up, then it’s no surprise that ‘everyone is in it for themselves’. As that’s the case it would be better for Wenger to focus more on his own efforts at getting his squad ready for the next season with players who want to play for him, rather than responding to what others say about those yet to commit to the cause.
For Arsenal, though, this is the tip of the iceberg of challenges they must overcome to maintain their position as title contenders.