Happy New Year, my fellow citizens of the Gooner Republic. I hope Santa brought you all you hoped for and that not too many of you received P45s, courtesy of the credit crunch.
The transfer window is now open again. If you believe the papers, Real Madrid is in for both Arsčne Wenger and Cesc Fàbregas. A £25 million five year deal is on the table for Arsčne, plus £30 million for Cesc according to the reports. Where on Earth Real will get the money from I have no idea, having already splashed out £40 million for Lassana Diarra from Pompey and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from Ajax. Clauses in the latter deal could take the total up a further £7 million.
We will of course cop a sizeable chunk of the Diarra deal, around £5 million, which will swell the transfer budget. We took a good profit on selling him on to Pompey too, about £3 million, although from that sum needs to be deducted his salary – about £1.1 million with on-costs I should think for six months. Not bad though for a player who only appeared for us seven times in the first team.
We’re never privy to the exact details of transfer agreements and fees so it’s possible we’ll receive less than £5 million from Pompey. It could be that deal is a quarter of any fee additional to that the Fratton Park club paid us. Who knows? All helpful though.
Let’s not forget we spent around £5 million on Aaron Ramsey and nearly £13 million on Samir Nasri last summer, although we did receive nearly £12 million for Aliaksandr Hleb from Barca. For completeness Mikaël Silvestre cost around £750,000 from Yoonited. Net, I make us about square on the season’s dealings so far.
I do continue to be worried about the effect of Sterling’s plunge against the Euro and, to a lesser extent, the US Dollar, the two principle currencies in which international transfers are conducted. As I said in a previous blog on the fall of Sterling, I can see this having a big effect on our ability to compete on transfer fees and wages. I’m also worried that we might have problems already if some of our players receive their salaries wholly or partly in Euros. Our already VERY large payroll of £100 million plus could be already heading north very rapidly if this is the case.
Kolo Touré has also had a transfer request turned down we read. It actually pleases me that a player isn’t happy when he’s not in the first team. I’d rather they keep their unhappiness in-house however. I love Kolo’s attitude to the game. He and Sol Campbell were rocks when they played alongside each other I thought. He’s never returned to his previous level post the African Cup of Nations in Ghana early last year.  His bout of malaria picked up whilst at home in the Ivory Coast last summer didn’t help either. You’d like to think that this wasn’t due to any negligence on his and/or the club’s part in taking preventative anti-malaria tablets. Whatever the reason, Kolo simply hasn’t been the player he was post his return from the African Cup of Nations, where he was inured playing for the Ivory Coast against Benin. We certainly can’t afford to lose him now however, unless we can find a suitable replacement. Especially so if the rumours about Milan being in for Big Bad Bill Gallas are true.
I for one would cheerfully see the back of Gallas. There was a time last season when I thought Arsčne had done it again. I thought Gilberto had done more than enough to earn the captain’s armband when he led the side so often in 2006/7 as vice-captain during the frequent injury absences of Thierry Henry. Let’s not forget he was captain of Brazil at the time too, skippering them to the Copa América in Venezuela (although he missed the final itself due to suspension). I thought I’d been proved wrong until one of the more spectacular public exhibitions of dummy-spitting I’ve ever witnessed at St Andrew’s.
Gallas has played quite well recently, but I wouldn’t lose too much sleep if he was shown the door. I’m just waiting for the next barrage of toys out of his pram. I’d even swallow my pride and take Mathieu Flamini back in a swap for Gallas and Philippe Senderos, another rumour doing the rounds. Although why Milan would want to take Senderos off our hands I don’t know. He’s hardly played for i rossinieri and his display at Fratton Park in the UEFA Cup was less than encouraging. I still get the shivers when I think about his errors in the Champions League quarter-final second leg at Anfield last season.
I know many Gooners were critical of the decision to let Lassana Diarra go. I can see their point but he clearly wanted out. In my experience keeping a player against his will is usually counter-productive. He was whining at the time that he wasn’t getting a game. Why didn’t the bloke show some patience? He certainly would have played a good few games with all our injuries last term if he had have stayed. His comments on arriving at Fratton Park were hardly encouraging. He was clearly just passing through on his way to where he really wanted to be. Real have now been told that under UEFA rules only one of him or Huntelaar can be registered for the rest of this season’s Champions League campaign. Real president Ramón Calderón has tried coming the old soldier with his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini but has been told, “Sorry, nothing doing.” Good.
I’d like to see some reinforcements brought in now but ONLY if we can find the right players. No point in spending money for the sake of it. The more worrying trend for me is the general sense of drift and uncertainty at the club. I’d put money on Arsčne respecting his contract. He always has in the past. Much good it did him too at Monaco.
Having turned down Bayern Munich and the French national team as he was under contract in Monte Carlo, he was given the shove following a poor start to the season in 1994/5. So much for loyalty. If the press reports are true, £5 million a year has got to be tempting – who’d turn down a pay rise of around £1 million a year? Arsčne just might. There has to come a point when money is neither here nor there, you’ve got so much of it. Real have had eight managers in the time Le Boss has been at Arsenal. Vicente del Bosque, who also made over three hundred league appearances for Real as a player in an eleven year  playing career there, lasted the longest. Just four seasons. They gave him the bullet after guiding them to two league titles, two Champions League wins and a World Club Cup and European Super Cup. Not good enough apparently. If that’s failure I’d live with it!
I think Arsčne would be barking to take on this job. Does he really need all the grief at 59 years old? I suspect one of the things that’s kept him at Arsenal is the fact that he’s left to get on with the playing side. Nothing could be further from the truth in the circus that surrounds the Bernabéu.
That said, there is a worrying level of uncertainty at the top at the moment. Four directors have been made to walk the plank recently – David Dein, Keith Edelman, Richard Carr and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith. You have to put this down to Danny Fiszman. He’s talked the talk. I now think he has to walk the walk. I’ve come to the conclusion that he wants to sell up. He certainly hasn’t moved to Switzerland for his health. He clearly doesn’t like paying tax. I’ll be honest and say I find this incredibly galling. The bloke is rolling in money already. He can’t possibly spend what he’s already got. What on Earth does he want more for? He appears determined on extracting every last penny out of Arsenal however. All of which would benefit him and not Arsenal of course.
Our new managing director Ivan Gazidis, who joined the board yesterday, certainly has his w ork cut out. Good luck to him and to all of you out there in the Gooner Nation. Despite all the uncertainty and gloom surrounding us all at the moment, I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.
Keep the faith!

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