by Tony Attwood
When it is time to knock Arsenal in the media (which it is most of the time) then all the standard ploys are used – one of which of course is the fact that all the star players want to leave because they are so fed up with Arsène Wenger.
So we now have the issue with Alexis Sánchez who we are told is “frustrated”. We are told in the press that he “stormed” out of the stadium when he was substituted in the Norwich game.
Of course we don’t know if this is true or not, and even if it is we don’t know whether Alexis was fed up with being substituted because he felt he shouldn’t have been, or because he knew he had not been up to the standard he was delivering earlier in his time at Arsenal.
As you might imagine, the story the press have got hold of is weak in the extreme. Here’s two sentences used: “Privately, the Frenchman [Mr Wenger] is understood to be unimpressed. The atmosphere between them is believed to have been frosty in training this week, although Sánchez is expected to start against Manchester City on Sunday.”
So “privately”, “understood” “believed” “expected”. Hardly the stuff of evidence. But it was ever thus and inevitably leads to stories about fans being “on Wenger’s back” and the pressure Wenger “could well do without”.
The next step is “Bayern Munich have been linked with him” – and “there have been suggestions that Pep Guardiola could try to take him to Manchester City.” “Linked”, “suggestions” and so on.
Emmanuel Adebayor was of course another one who left Arsenal, making the club a £22m profit. He then made a lot of disparaging remarks about Arsenal fans and also stamped on Robin van Persie while he lay on the ground, as well as deliberately running the whole length of the Ethiad to gloat in front of Arsenal fans.
In fact Man City only put up with him for 34 games, and Real Mad for 14 before Tottenham took him on and then regretted it deeply, ultimately continuing to pay his salary without playing him because no one else wanted him at that cost.
As for RVP himself, his case was different from all the others. Sir F Word knew he was going to have one final crack at the League, and knew that RVP had had one magnificent injury free season. No one else would have paid a fortune in transfer fee and salary for a player in that position but Sir F did, and it paid off. Although not for the club who were then left with RVP on a salary that no one else would match, for another three years. But by then Sir F was gone, and the decline was setting in.
Gael Clichy, plucked from total obscurity by Arsenal’s extraordinary French scout Gilles Grimandi, seemed better suited to the Arsenal way when he said, “I really think if you are a player who thinks only about money then you could end up at Manchester City. You have to think if you want to play for a big club and have your image, or if you want to play for a good club and earn big money.”
Two years later he went to Man City.
Bacary Sagna also went to Man City for the money, and having won the FA Cup with Arsenal went on to win the League Cup with Man City. His problem was he forgot to investigate who else was in the team. He gets the money but Pablo Zabaleta get the games.
Samir Nasri gave Arsenal another giant pay out in terms of profit from a man whose mental strength has never quite seemed in tune with that of his manager. His situation within the French team was a warning of just how disruptive an influence he could be, and there are those who would put Man City’s difficulties at time at his door.
One would never do the same with Thomas Vermaelen who went from Arsenal to Barcelona at a time when he was more often injured than not, and despite his enormous talent he has made 11 appearances in two years, although he did provide some fun when filmed parking his car. Thierry Henry also chose Barcelona, and the club ended up paying £250,000 a game for Thierry who, much as we love him, was past his best by the time he went.
Alexander Hleb has famously admitted that leaving Arsenal was the stupidest thing he ever did in his life. But he went to Barcelona in 2008 and after 19 league games in four seasons it was
|2009–2010||VfB Stuttgart (loan)||27||(0)|
|2010–2011||Birmingham City (loan)||19||(1)|
|2011||VfL Wolfsburg (loan)||4||(1)|
|2012||Krylia Sovetov Samara||8||(0)|
But then I am told Gençlerbirliği is very nice at this time of year.
One might wonder when these players will ever learn… and come to that when Barcelona will ever learn, but they certainly didn’t with Alex Song. After an average of between one game in two and one in three with Barcelona over two years he was shipped off to West Ham on loan where the ratio of appearances declined even further.
Maybe if (and it seems unlikely) Alexis is contemplating the door, he might like to reflect on what normally happens to ex-Arsenal men looking to “extend their career”.