Thursday, 20 March 2008

F-Off Inter - let's get tough...oh and Eboue

This tapping up business has got to stop. Granted, we do not know the ins and outs of the apparent tapping up of Alex Hleb by Inter Milan. That said however, if it is true, I am starting to get fed up. Arsene Wenger must start to get tough on this matter and take Inter to court. We did it over the Ashley Cole affair but have generally let things lie when it has happened since.

It may not be considered "tapping up" but some of the comments that have emerged from the Nou Camp and Santiago Bernabeu over the last few years are surely the exact same thing? The obvious thing that comes to mind when I think about these clubs and their antics is the comments regarding their desire to sign Cesc Fabregas. I encourage you though to cast your minds back further.

You may well remember the days when Patrick Vieira was at the height of his Arsenal career. As the turn of the century arrived he firmly established himself as one of the best midfield players in the World. What did that mean for the fans of Arsenal Football Club? It meant that we had to read constant statements from the Madrid side about their desire to sign Vieira.

For countless summers, the question was "will he stay or will he go?" It even got to a point during one summer break that Arsenal fans had already accepted he had gone. It seemed that everything was signed and Wenger would need to find a replacement. In the end Paddy stayed for one more year and claimed that he had that special bond with the club. Many believed the money was a huge factor as his wages went sky high. It is not for me to speculate here but it does raise another issue on this tentative subject.

It is extremely hard to work out exactly when the rumours of potential interest in a player come from the agents or a true source. We are currently in a world where agents will do anything to raise the amount they receive via their percentage. Agents are only looking out for one thing in this game, number one. They do not care what problems are caused when they talk up interest from other clubs.

There is a clear difference when the club itself comes out with statements like the ones we have heard from Real Madrid. It is ridiculous how these clubs think they can say whatever the hell they like and get away with it. This season alone I have heard Roman Calderon mention Kaka being destined for Madrid, this after two years of constant declarations that he will sign Cesc Fabregas.

We have heard Barcelona declare their interest to bring Cesc back there at some point. I do not blame them for wanting such a player at their club, the only problem is that he is not their player, he is Arsenal’s and they cannot talk up such a move. That is tapping up in my opinion. The problem does however lie with Mr Wenger. He must take a hard line here but he never does.

Look at Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. This is one area where I admire Alex Ferguson. He takes no shit from anyone, especially not Real Madrid or Barcelona. Throughout this season and last they have declared their desire to sign Ronaldo but these outbursts have died away, but why? Alex Ferguson has put them to bed.

When it seemed like Cristiano might leave this summer, Alex Ferguson told him he was going nowhere, told Madrid to go away in no uncertain terms and look how well he’s playing now. I just wish Wenger would release a statement declaring his refusal to sell these players. As soon as a report comes out over a potential move for Fabregas, he should quash immediately to avoid any unnecessary confusion. The silence does nothing but suggest Wenger is not sure over how his player feels.

Even if he believes his player might go, he must get tough and show how ambitious he is to keep his best players. If any club decides they want a player from Arsenal and make it public, it should be considered illegal and a valuable reason for Arsene Wenger to take this club to the Football courts. Whether he would have any chance of winning such a case I do not know; what he would show from it could be what makes it so important. This strong stance would warn any clubs that they should think twice before doing anything similar.

Hopefully Wenger will do this should the Hleb claims be found true. According to one paper Wenger will take Inter Milan to the courts over their tapping up of Hleb. If true, it seems Wenger has finally had enough and has begun to get tough with these clubs. It is about time he protected his squad and prevented these unsettling comments from clubs. It is out of order and I hope it starts to stop now.

If the worst comes to the worst, let’s release statements claiming Iker Casillas and Samuel Eto’o are destined to be at Arsenal for next season!

In other news, Tomas Rosicky seems to be far more unlikely to kick a ball for the first team in the near future. Reports claim he has not even started to join in training with a football. Tomas was expected back before Van Persie but injuries are never straight forward where Ro-"sicky" is concerned. The club thought he was over his injury troubles after he had a special insole inserted into his boot but then this happens. Week by week the fear he will end up as the new Freddie Ljungberg (in his latter years at Arsenal) increases.

Rosicky is definitely important to the side as he offers a directness from midfield. Hleb and Fabregas look for the killer ball and this often causes the game to slow down. That enables teams to close us down more easily than when someone like Rosicky is in the side. He gives us that balance in midfield as he draws players out with his desire to make things happen quickly, invariably they do.

Rumours are circulating that Emmanuel Eboue is up for sale in the summer. When Bakary Sagna came in this summer he was clearly brought in as the new first choice right back. He has not let Wenger down in his first season but Eboue has not settled to his new role on the right side of midfield as he might have wanted.

There have been times when Eboue has shown potential in this position. There have been others when he has looked like a lost soul out there. There are three things to consider this summer:
1. Is Eboue good enough?
As I said, he has shown promise at times but is it worth giving him another season to adapt to the role further?
2. Squad players
Every squad needs players who are prepared to be used more sparingly. A squad cannot survive if everyone wants to play every game. A manager needs players who are prepared to work hard in training and put up with a place on the bench for most of the season. Eboue is not part of our best 11 in my opinion but can be a decent player if called upon.
3. The price
If Wenger can get a decent price for Eboue he might cash in now and lose any risk of him flopping here. While interest is high and clubs are probably more likely to pay more than they might be one season on after no improvement.

I say that if the price is above £10million then I would probably sell. If it was anything less than that I would keep Eboue as a squad player and hope he cuts out the antics and continues to learn his trade as a right winger. It is hard to tell, he might become a very good midfielder given time.

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