Here we go again. I’ll wager a pound to a penny that the speculative coverage of Cesc Fabregas’ move, perceived or otherwise, to Barcelona garners more than 25billion column inchs this summer. That’s the distance from Earth to Uranus. Perhaps Uranus Wanderers should consider a bid. We start with a fair few inches this morning in the papers, which dig out Peter Hill-wood for claiming that Barca have promised not to come calling for the Catalan hero once the season comes to a close.
The Sun says Fab and AW have been left incensed by an ‘astonishing gaffe’ from Arsenal chief Hill-Wood. They say the Gunners chairman infuriated his star player and manager by claiming the Arsenal skipper “would not even get in” the Barcelona team.
Hill-Wood said: “If you want my opinion, I’m not sure he would even get in their team. Do they need him? I’m not sure they do.” A ‘source’ close to the club revealed: “Cesc and Arsene were furious Hill-Wood should go so far as to suggest Fabregas isn’t good enough to play for his old club.
“They thought his comments were bang out of order. Anyone who is anybody in football knows Cesc would enhance any team in the world, even Barcelona. So the next meeting between Hill-Wood and his manager is likely to be a frosty one.”
Meanwhile, the Mail claim Barcelona are plotting a raid on us this summer but their top target is Gael Clichy rather than Cesc Fabregas. They say Clichy impressed Nou Camp boss Pep Guardiola with two excellent performances against Barca in the Champions League quarter-final.
And the paper adds that Guardiola has identified the need for a left back as a greater priority than a central midfielder like Fabregas, although the issue is clouded by the club’s presidential elections in the summer. Meetings were held between representatives of the two clubs when they clashed in the Champions League, the paper says.
The Mirror believes AW Wenger is preparing for a rebuilding programme after we crashed out of the title race. And the board will also try to persuade the boss to commit himself to a new long-term contract this summer as the club looks to build for the future.
They say AW will be afforded a £30m-plus budget for transfers and new contracts on the back of encouraging financial figures from the club’s Highbury property development which will be discussed at next week’s board meeting. But the current Arsenal hierarchy – including chief executive Ivan Gazidis and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke – want AW to stay, although there may be pressure to buy new players to keep fans happy.
Writing in the Telegraph, former North Bak idol Alan Smith tells us: ‘If you want to compete for the title, you also need a better goalkeeper than Manuel Almunia. When you compare him with Edwin Van der Sar, Petr Cech, Pepe Reina and Shay Given, he is not at their level. He has made mistakes this season at crucial times and people find it hard to understand why Arsenal didn’t go for Given last year. I also think Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer is a better keeper. It is rare to win a championship without a top goalkeeper; they are crucial and can win you matches.
In midfield, a common theme has been the need to buy a strong and imposing player, but the emergence and improvement of Alexandre Song has negated that. Song will continue to get better and, with Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby, the midfield is not a priority. Up front, it seems that Marouane Chamakh will sign from Bordeaux, and he will bring something different. He is a poacher, a fox in the box, and very good in the air.
Could have done with Smudger back the other night at the shit pit, that’s for sure.