Saturday, 23 July 2011

Cesc left out -The reason for Nasri's contract dispute? -Eboue sold?

Morning Gooners.

I hope I find you well on this fine Saturday when we have another installment of Arsenal Pre-Season 2011. The squad travelled to Germany yesterday without a string of players. Cesc Fabregas, as widely predicted, misses the trip with a "muscular injury". To be honest it's not surprising he's not included, even if it's not down to injury. He's only been training with Sol Campbell at London Colney, so he's not going to gain much match fitness from doing that. And I think that Arsene Wenger has excluded the players he doesn't feel will be around next season from the training camp in order to assess what shape his squad is in.

Quite telling in this regard was something the manager said yesterday:
"As long as the situation is not settled, we have to focus on the coming season with the players we have. The players who are uncertain, it is difficult for them to focus on being completely committed."
Wenger said that in regard to the futures of Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby. But you could equally include Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Eboue. All of them have their futures up in the air at the club, with the Ivorian being linked with a move to Galatasaray, which according to reports could be completed sortly.

As for Cesc's future at the club, the manager said there is nothing new happening and we are at a stage where "no comment" is the only thing we can say. Plenty of this morning's newspapers have said the Barcelona delegation has finally arrived in London to discuss their deal with Arsenal - although they could be here to talk with Chelsea over the sale of Oriol Romeu.

Nothing is ever clear in this situation. The Guardian are reporting an increased bid of £33m is likely to be made but that is still well short of our valuation of the player. And if the figure of £40m is when we'll start considering the sale of Cesc, you've got to laugh at the price Tottenham are putting on Luka Modric. Harry says they'll do a deal for no less than £35m. And if that's true, we should stand firm with Barcelona and not sell until our valuation is met.

I personally think Cesc is worth £50m but with Barcelona struggling to come up with £40m, it's hard to see us getting that price - not that we should be worried about what the European champions can afford. We should set the price and until they meet it refuse to sell.

I'm glad to hear the manager hasn't completely closed the door on selling Samir Nasri. As I've said for a long time, I think he'll leave this summer. He's shown no sign of wanting to sign an improved deal and if we can make £25m+ on a player in the final year of his contract, we should jump at the chance. That will give Arsene Wenger significant funds to reinvest in the squad this summer.

Asked if Nasri's future was sorted, Wenger said:
"Not completely but I want him to stay. He knows that. Hopefully we can sort that out in the coming weeks."
Remembering the manager said in Asia that both Nasri and Fabregas would stay, this is a slight change of tact. I'd be surprised if both players were wearing Arsenal shirts come September 1st.

According to a source close to Nasri who spoke with the Daily Express, the dispute with Nasri arose because of the length of time Arsenal took to put a verbal offer put to him down on paper. If this is true it is another example of a lack of management strategy at the club. How long can it take to get back to a player who has agreed to re-sign with a contract? Months isn't good enough. We needed to have striked whilst the iron was hot. I do worry at times that the Arsenal executive team do take their eye of the ball and this is the kind of situation we're left with.

It has been good to hear the manager is keen on signing a new defender. We certainly need to add to our back line and cannot start the season  with the same four central defenders who started the last.  Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Chris Samba are the names often mentioned and if we do finally show willing and part with some cash for Cahill or Jagielka I'll be happy. I think they could add something to our squad.

We saw last season how four central defenders weren't enough. Vermaelen was out for pretty much the whole season leaving us with three players to play in those positions. And two of them were in their debut campaigns in English football. Johan Djourou had been out with a long term injury in the previous season and in the Christmas you'll remember we were left with two fit central defenders: Djourou and Koscielny because Squillaci picked up a hamstring injury.

I'm slightly surprised that Kyle Bartley hasn't travelled to Germany. I would have liked to have seen him given some match time but I image the manager doesn't think he's ready yet. Also, his four first team central defenders are all fit, so it's probably better that Bartley, who is just returning from injury, picks up some game time with the reserves.

So, to today's game. It will be good to finally be able to get a feel for what qualities Gervinho will bring to the team when he is more than certain to get his first run out as an Arsenal player. It will be interesting to see where the manager will play him. He offers a threat across the whole of the attack, but I imagine we'll see him on the right hand side of the front three. Also included in the squad is Benik Afobe who impressed on loan last season. I'm sure he'll also be given a run out. Whether he'll get a chance with the first team squad this season remains to be seen, but I suspect another season on loan wouldn't do him any harm.

Remember the game starts at 2.30pm UK time and is live (hopefully) on Arsenal Player.

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