Diaby Dilemma And Transfer Tattle
The Gunners got their Far East tour underway with a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Arsene Wenger was in particularly good form, acknowledging the achievement of his Malaysian counterpart for surviving in the job for several years. As much as we criticized the club management for the handling of the Fabregas and Nasri departures last year, they deserve praise for taking early steps to cover Van Persie’s exit this summer. The manager seems more relaxed at this pre-season as a result.
On Van Persie, Le Boss was as candid as he’s going to be, admitting the Dutchman was one of the top strikers in the world and Arsenal wished to keep him. At the same time, he admitted Robin was in demand and the management would do what was right for the club. Which basically means Arsenal will hold out for the highest bidder. If the club has to wait until 23:30 hrs on the 31st August, our preparations and start to the season will not be disrupted this time around with two top quality strikers already recruited.
Tellingly, Arsene stated how he’s supported Robin van Persie throughout his career – something Sir Robin seems to have conveniently erased from memory amidst avaricious agent-speak and hustling for £195k-a-week contracts.
Arsene also identified the pre-season as being crucial for Abou Diaby. If his compatriot comes through the tour unscathed, Diaby would be like a new signing himself. I think its make-or-break year for the French midfielder – if he can’t play 15-20 games this season Arsene may be forced to part with a player he rates very highly as the need for greater squad depth grows urgent every passing day.
Just as Van Persie showed flashes of brilliance throughout his injury troubles, Diaby displays the same class when he gets a run of games together. Unfortunately those instances have become increasingly few and far between. Hopefully 2012-13 is the season Diaby avoids the treatment table. Of course if he does have a good season there’s the danger of discovering higher ambitions. Perhaps Abou might have a better memory than Robin – I won’t be holding my breath though, such is the nature of modern football and the modern footballer.
The manager also poured cold water on Arsenal’s interest in Yann M’Vila pointing to our options in the holding midfield position. While this could be usual Arsene-speak of saying one thing and doing another, I think there is some truth in his assertion. The worry at the moment is definitely in the attacking midfield position. One possible target, Ganso of Santos, seems to have ruled himself out of a move by stating his desire to stay in Brazil.
Elsewhere, we seem to be heavily linked with Santi Cazorla of Malaga. While Wenger claims not to have heard of the Spanish winger, there might be fire behind this smoke after all. Perhaps negotiations to renew Walcott’s contract are not going well. The Englishman is the only Arsenal winger whose immediate future is in doubt. The difficulty with Cazorla is that Malaga bought him from Villareal only last year. The Spaniard carries a £17m price tag and a contract running until 2016. It seems highly unlikely Arsenal will pay that price – unless Liverpool are as generous with us in pursuit of Walcott as they were with Newcastle in chasing Andy Carroll.
Football returns with the first pre-season friendly against Malaysia XI tomorrow. Although there’s disappointment at not being able to watch the new boys in action, it’ll be good to see Arteta and Song back in partnership in midfield. There are plenty of youngsters on show as well, Thomas Eisfeld and Benik Afobe are certainly ones to watch. Even though the result doesn’t matter, a winning start would be most welcome. More importantly, the manager will be hoping key players like Diaby come through the tie without any setbacks.