Monday 21 December 2009

The Green Green Grass of Money

As thoughts turn to the January transfer window, and countless blogs and press stories begin to link us with transfer targets, and link other clubs with our players, I thought I would take a look at 5 recent high profile exits from the club and ask the question whether the grass was, in fact, greener away from the Emirates. And on this basis, its a wonder that anyone thinks spending lots of money on a player is a good idea.

(1) Kolo Toure / Emanuel Adebayor.
A joint entry for Man Citeh's double signings, which saw around £40m being paid to Arsenal in return for their services. Its early days for these two, and perhaps slightly unfair to lump them together like this, since Kolo was a loyal servant who played 225 games for Arsenal, whereas Adebayor was neither loyal nor did he give any air of gratitude towards the Club that put him in the big time. However, in the money rich world of Man Citeh, these two will largely be lumped together, along with the rest of the over-priced dross that Hughes signed. Adebayor had a bright start to the season but has faded fast, and is now relegated to the bench (although who knows what Mancini will think of him), and Kolo is doing his best alongside Lescott, as usual, but the Citeh fans are used to strong defenders who can head the ball, like Richard Dunne. Likewise, after only a few months of watching Tommy V, most Arsenal fans think we look better at center back this year without Kolo. Its been a bit of a struggle for both of them, and as things stand, Arsenal are laughing all the way to the bank with this deal.

(2) Mathieu Flamini
Probably one of the most controversial moves in recent years, the 30 Premiership appearances that Flamini made for Arsenal in the 2007/08 season saw him catapulted into the limelight. Whilst many were shocked at his decision to leave, the money on offer at Milan was apparently two good to refuse. The Flamster's involvement at Milan has been patchy. Whilst 29 appearances in Serie A games last season sounds pretty good, the majority was at sub, or right back. This season is not much better, and his recent outings for Milan are as a late sub in midfield. Similarly, he seems no closer to being a regular player for the France international side. If he had stayed at Arsenal, I would have expected him to make their World Cup side, whereas he must now be an outsider. Arsenal missed the Flamster last year, but Alex Song now looks a more than capable replacement. So if he was still at Arsenal, I am not sure he would be a regular first XI player.

(3) Alex Hleb
This one is much easier. Alex's dribbly no-score routine did not go down that well in Barcelona, and found it difficult to displace some over rated ugly kid from Buenos Aires on the right wing. He made 39 appearances for Barcelona, mostly in the cups, and was an unused sub for the Champions League semi and final, whereas he played both equivalent games in Arsenal's 2006 campaign. The return to Stuttgart in the Summer of 2009 was inevitable to a player who seemed unable to settle elsewhere, although it is technically a loan of the player who Stuttgart sold to Arsenal and can no-longer afford. Would Hleb still be a regular in Arsenal's XI? Almost certainly in my book. Despite being an infurariating dribbly bastard, he was damn good at it. Leaving Arsenal was a bad move for Alex, no doubt about it.

(4) Jose Antionio Reyes
A disaster. Jose left Arsenal for Real Madrid in 2006 ( I can't believe it was that recent) in a doomed for everyone swap deal with Julio Baptista. Never has it been clearer that playing Football Manager was no way to tell Arsene Wenger what to do. Baptista was crap, Reyes did nothing at Real - although he scored some critical goals in their successful 07/08 league campaign, and ended up being signed across town at Atletico Madrid in the Summer of 2007. Jose's first season at Atletico was a disaster and he was sent to Benfica for the 08/09 season, where he also failed to impress. He is now back at Atletico and on the fringes of the team. Jose was a big star at Arsenal and a regular first choice for Spain at the time under Aragones. However, after leaving Arsenal, he did not even get into their Euro 2008 squad and is highly unlikely to be in their World Cup 2010 squad.

(5) Thierry Henry
There can be no doubt that this move went well for TT. I was one of many people who thought that the £17m we took from Barcelona in the Summer of 2007 was too good to be true for a player who had lost his form in a big way since the Champions League Final in Paris in 2006, at which time Henry was one of the best in the world and the subject to several bids reportedly at the £50m mark. However, he proved every one wrong, won his place in the side at Barca ahead of Ronaldinho (who then left in 2008 for Milan) and was a major force in the treble winning Barca side of 2009. Unless Fifa make a mockery of him, he is a shoe-in for the France 2010 side. Handball scandals aside, TT is one of the few examples of a player who has left Arsenal and gone onto bigger and better things. And well done to him.


Anonymous said...

thats all well and good, but wenger has done quite well in januaru in recent years - what about arshavin?

Anonymous said...

wouldn't it be funny if Diaby went to S Africa next summer and Flamini didn't !!

K man said...

Interesting blog and I generally agree with you. I actually think we could still do with Flamini and I suspect he would play more often than that but I accept that Song might not be the excellent player he now is without Flamini having left.

I agree Thierry has done well since leaving but I also think his time had come at Arsenal - we kept playing the ball to him no matter what position he was in.

I expect very little Arsene Jan transfer window action. They will be relatively low key signings, if at all.

Anonymous said...

what a great bit of business with Ade and Toure (respect to Kolo. but he did want to leave).

the Arsenal have had their bad times, but I am thankful there are cool heads running the team. Citeh is a joke.

Also, compare our year last year when he started off like crap v. Liverpool this year.

huh what.


Obsinho said...

I think Arsene is a great seller of players, mainly as he is more focused on the genuine football ability of a player rather than brand or reputation. He knows when a player is not performing as well.

However, he is not so consistent in his buying abilities. Which is where there is greater risk, and why he very sensibly does not spend huge amounts of money.

I think we do need signings in January, mainly some fresh legs and as we have seen what a good January signing can do. I think it could be a signing in any position really not as we are weak everywhere but ad we are probably a player or two short in the squad due to injuries.

Ted said...

We have the debate about signings every transfer window. Fans love talking about signings, papers love writing about signings, but Arsene Wenger hates making signings unless he has to.

He is NOT going to sign someone as temporary cover for Song in January.

However, he might think that the situation at left back, or up front, justifies bringing someone in.

Davor Suker is the exception that proves the rule that Wenger goes for unknown and inexperienced players. However, a Suker type player is exactly what we need at the moment.

Anonymous said...

It's the ''curse of leaving Arsenal''syndrome for 99% of players but i disagree with flamini.Part of his departure might have been about money but i think part was to do with when flamini played left-back in the C/L ,and done a bloody good job,until the final when he was dropped for cashley cole,who i thought didn't have a good game!!.

I also believe he's better than song as he's more mobile,can pass,reads a game better and closes down quicker and can make late runs into the box.The only thing song is better at is heading,so i wish wenger gave flamini that extra and he stayed,as wenger is quite happy to raise the wages of the average we got now!!

marcus said...

I don't expect AW to buy in January. Apart from his own attitude toward buying in January (or in any window, frankly), he has a point when he says there aren't a lot of good, available players that would be appropriate for our needs in January - and that don't cost a bazillion pounds.

On another subject, as we head into the holiday season and the new year, I thought this WONDERFUL article by John Cross about our brilliant, priceless manager should be read by all gooners (hell, all football fans) everywhere: