Wenger has announced today that Cesc and Samir are staying. Well, cancel the street parties because they won’t be here next season, despite his statement. The press and my fellow bloggers have leapt upon it as though the matter is settled, so why am I so confident they’ll still be sold? Because history tells us that when Wenger is fighting to keep a star player he always says they are staying and they rarely do.
Here’s what I mean. Just 12 days before Henry signed for Barcelona in 2007, Wenger guaranteed – yes, guaranteed – that Henry would stay. The Mail reported it as Wenger: I guarantee Henry will not leave Arsenal this summer and here’s an excerpt from it:
Arsene Wenger has ‘guaranteed’ Arsenal captain Thierry Henry will not be sold this summer. “It is more down to imagination than anything else, Thierry Henry will be here next year.” Asked whether he could guarantee to fans that Henry would remain at the Emirates after the current campaign, Wenger said: “Yes, of course.”
Two years earlier Vieira left us for Juventus. As speculation over Vieira’s future had mounted over previous weeks, Wenger again insisted his captain would not be leaving. The Daily Mail reported the story as Are Henry and Vieira off? Non, says Wenger:
Arsene Wenger has shrugged off reports that Arsenal could lose Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira unless they invest heavily in their playing squad – and the Gunners boss is convinced the French pair remain “totally committed” to the club. The Arsenal manager rejected reports originating in France that key men Henry and Vieira would consider leaving the club. He said in the London Evening Standard: “I don’t accept that and I am not worried.”
Well you should’ve been worried Arsene because three months later Vieira was gone, so just because Wenger says Fabregas and Nasri will stay doesn’t mean that they will.
In fact, today’s statement is more a case of Wenger using the press to reiterate the club’s stance that they are unwilling sellers, thus hoping to get more money out of Barca and Man City/Man Utd/Chelsea when they submit their next bids.
The other massive clue that his statement was just posturing by Wenger is that apparently Nasri will be allowed to run his contract down if he doesn’t sign a new one:
”Will he be at the club next season? I say yes. The second part (of the question) – will he sign a new contract? I hope yes, but I am not the only one to decide.”
Wenger guaranteed this wouldn't happen
As if the tightest manager and club in the Premiership would allow a £23m asset to go for nothing in 12 months time! Wenger is hoping Ferguson and Mancini believe that and up their bids to land him him this summer, but I don’t think he’ll stay if he doesn’t sign. If he does it would be gross mismanagement as effectively we’d be paying £23m (plus his wages) just to have Nasri play for us for one more season. Can you see miser Wenger allowing that?!
I actually think the right course of action is to sell them now anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be very sad to see them go and I blame Wenger for not strengthening the squad enough over previous seasons to keep them happy. However, we don’t want two unhappy players putting in half-hearted displays like Adebayor did in his final season. So let’s move them on, bank the reported £58m and buy some experienced, quality players to replace them who really want to wear the Arsenal shirt.
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