Wenger sells players. He sells players we want him to sell, such as Stepanovs, Wray, and Boa Morte. And then he sells players we are shocked to see go. Vieira, Henry, Petit…
It is always a shock, but six months later, it is always clear why he did it.
Of course the newspapers always react with shock – they see it as player unrest, other clubs having more ambition, the club falling apart. And when the player fails to come anywhere near his previous standard they blame the player, and express surprise.
The fact is, Wenger is the perfect master of judging what will happen next season. All the stories are that Wenger knew nothing about the private deal done between David Dein’s son and Henry, to pay Henry £££millions to stay at Arsenal after the Barca cup final disaster. But he was happy to see Henry stay for one more year as he attempted to bed in his new players.
But then one year on, with Henry distressed by his divorce, by not seeing his daughter, and by his own dramatic drop in consistency, Henry opted to go away. And of course the situation got worse.
Vieira has not performed so badly as Henry having left Arsenal, but his form has never returned to the heights that we saw at Highbury.
In fact no one ever does better away from Arsenal than at Arsenal – and it would be nice if Hleb and Flamini realised that. The last players ever who flourished away from us were Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton. No one since.
This is not a story the papers will ever run – the tales of player discontent are what makes the papers and keeps them going. But whoever Wenger sells, whenever he sells, it is always because the player is on the way down, and Wenger wants as much money for him as possible.
And as long as other clubs are stupid enough to ignore the history of Arsenal sales, we’ll continue to make a profit out of selling worn out players elsewhere.
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