Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Arsenal board must decide how to respond to Barcelona president's claims

Tomorrow night could be a key evening in the relationship between Arsenal and Barcelona and how business is conducted by the clubs in future.

It follows a reception held in the Diamond Club at the Grove the night before Arsenal's 2-1 over the Catalans last month where Barca president Sandro Rosell speech took Arsenal to task over their transfer policy.

During this speech Rosell was complimentary at first towards Arsenal, their hospitality and thanked them for it but then went on to slate the Gunners for their continued pursuit of players within the Barcelona academy.

Rossel said Barcelona had always paid a fair amount through the years for players like Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Theirry Henry and Alex Hleb. But when Arsenal came calling at La Masia, Barca had always recieved the raw end of the deal.

He said Arsenal had stolen Cesc Fabregas from under their noses for a fee which he considered to be far from the true value for a 16-year-old rated so highly by the Barcelona hierarchy.

And when Arsenal went back to La Masia and offered a professional contract to Fran Merida, someone they considered to be in the same bracket as Fabregas, Rosell said Arsenal again had no right to the player who the Catalans developed only to lose him to the English club for a fee which they had to fight to get through court.

In his speech, Rosell said every time Barcelona had come to Arsenal for one of their players, the Gunners always were paid handsomely for the player. Yet Arsenal were showing Barcelona complete disrespect for their Spanish "friends" when they came calling on their youth team players.

Rosell continued his attack on Arsenal's transfer policy concerning Barca youth players when he spoke about the deal to take 16-year-old Jon Miquel Toral Harper from La Masia to the Grove.

He said Arsenal had made a huge offer to Toral Harper's parents for the boy's signature and that Gunners had yet again disrespected Barca in their dealings with players within their academy.

To this Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis responded, saying the Gunners had not acted inappropriately in any way with their dealings over the Toral Harper situation and that it was the right of every 16-year-old to make up their own mind as to who they wished to play for be it Barcelona or Arsenal.

Rosell then responded to what Gazidis had said. He remarked that English clubs now had a reputation for plucking the best young talents from across Europe and sticking them in their academies on huge wages with little paid out in fees or compensation to the club which developed them.

He said far from acting in a gentlemanly way, Arsenal were scraping the gutter with their dealings with youth talent in the transfer market.

Now Arsenal are deciding whether to make a response to the speech tomorrow night when a dinner is planned prior to Tuesday night's game.

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