Gunners track Spartak Moscow teen ace Zhano Ananidze

Gunners track Spartak Moscow teen ace Zhano Ananidze

Another day, another supposed target for the rip-roaring Gunners. Today it’s Spartak Moscow wonderkid Zhano Ananidze who is said to be on Arsene Wenger’s radar.
The News of the World claims the 17-year-old Georgian midfielder is already being talked about as one of Europe’s biggest talents.
He became the youngest player to score in the Russian Premier League when netting against Lokomotiv Moscow last week at the age of 17 years 8 days.
But, claims the paper, AW knew about Ananidze long before he burst on to the scene with that goal as his scouts have trailed him for the past year.
The Gunners face competition from Juventus, AC Milan and Seville for the teenager but fighting off those challengers will be easy compared to persuading Spartak to sell.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Mirror carries an interview with Emmanuel Eboué who reveals the full depth of the devastation he felt after being booed by Arsenal fans last season.
Eboué may be the joker in the Arsenal pack but it was no laughing matter last December, says the paper.
Eboué became the target for the frustration of the fans as Arsenal defended a one-goal lead against Wigan at home and had to be replaced after coming on as a sub.
The Ivory Coast international was so depressed by the experience that he was reluctant to go back into training.
“I was very disappointed,” said Eboué . “Then came the supportive calls from team-mates and friends alike.  My friends at the club helped me a lot and I want to say thank you to them.
“They rang me and gave me the confidence to come back.  That is one of the great things about our team.”
The Telegraph carries a decent interview with Tommy Vermaelen, in which the details of his signing are revealed.
The paper says towards the end of last season Arsenal’s chief scout, Steve Rowley was detailed to go and watch Vermaelen in action for Ajax. He went to watch them away at PSV Eindhoven, a tough test against their big rivals. Ajax lost 6-2.
Despite the defensive disaster Rowley was not deterred and he came back for their next away game, against lowly Sparta Rotterdam. Ajax lost 4-0.
“Ten goals in two games!” Vermaelen said, cringing. “It was terrible, there was just two weeks in between. I don’t know why they kept coming back to watch! I was playing left-back at the time and I wasn’t even playing very well at that moment.”
Rowley was displaying the determination of a T1000, and tracked his man to a Belgium training camp in Dunkirk. “He watched me there, he told me later,” he said. “It was a stupid training camp. It was at the end of the season and we had to go to Japan for this friendly tournament.
“Nobody wanted to go and a lot of players had actually said they didn’t want to go. I remember a lot of players from Anderlecht and Standard Ličge had pulled out. There were six of us there, training on this bad pitch and thinking, why the hell are we here? And he was there.”
The story goes that Rowley was convinced he had found his man when he watched this ramshackle training session. In between some sparring, the players started doing some jumps.
Vermaelen, despite being 6ft flat, sailed above his taller team-mates. Packed into his innocuous frame was the spring of a basketballer.
The next chapter of the story occurs in Mauritius. Before going on holiday Vermaelen’s agent, the former Denmark player Soren Lerby, had told him that Arsenal were interested.
When, lying on the beach, an unknown number flashed up on his phone, Vermaelen suspected foul play. On the line comes someone claiming to be Wenger.
“Some of my friends we call people, joking, pretending to be someone else,” he said. “I thought maybe it was one of the guys. It’s guys from the national team, Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembélé, these guys are phoning everybody so for the first few seconds I was listening really, really carefully but after a few seconds I knew it was really him.”
Good call, AW!

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