RvP, New Centre Back & Can Cesc Remain Captain Of Arsenal?
Good to see Robin van Persie make his international return last night. Actually, it was better to see him come through unscathed and scoring, two goals which emphasise how much we missed him whilst he was injured. Now for him just to come through the trials and tribulations of the World Cup and be ready for the coming season.
Elsewhere, transfer gossip abounds with Laurent Koscielny the latest centre back to be linked with a move to Arsenal, £8m the apparent price willing to be paid to Lorient. Given that the club has included him in the ludicrous section of ‘Transfer Linked‘, we can pretty much dismiss this as a Daily Mail journalist looking around Ligue 1 for a centre back who hasn’t been mentioned so far and could be signed for under £10m. Credit should be given for being original. Per Mertsacker meanwhile has been effusive in his praise of Arsenal in recent days without saying he definitely wants to come to The Emirates to ply his trade.
And so to the Cesc saga. The circus continued yesterday with the first public utterances from the player. His stance is clear: he wants to leave. Carefully though, he refused to say that he must leave, preferring to emphasise that the final decision is Arsenal’s. Whether he will be happy if negotiations breakdown is another matter although I suspect any dissatisfaction with that outcome will be uttered via his father, rather than damage his relationship with the club.
His words were not the direct appeal that Barcelona would have desired, certainly not enough to give them the moral high ground that they would like to hold; they remain in the immoral gutter, peeping through the storm drain. With a fee most likely to reach higher than they are publicly willing to pay, the long game will certainly ensue and quite possibly this could turn into a Vieira-esque summer with more to follow.
Should negotiations ever take place and then break down, the player will be expected to return to The Emirates and perform to the peak of his abilities. According to John Cross, this has already happened with the Catalans being told to do one. According to the report, Wenger and the Board are furious with the ‘tapping up’ albeit powerless to act as the player will be punished which is something the club will be keen to avoid lest is exacerbate his dissatisfaction. This serves to back up Robert Pires assertion earlier in the week that Arsenal will not sell Fabregas.
The question then becomes whether he should remain as Captain of Arsenal Football Club. Much will depend on the squad’s reaction to his return. Whilst they will no doubt welcome him, recognising his abilities as a player, would they react so generously to his captaincy. It would be easy for them to look at him and question his motivation. Only his actions would tell them if he is performing to 100%. If he is then there is no reason from their point of view, to doubt his commitment and therefore follow him.
From a supporters perspective, questions will always remain about his commitment to Arsenal. It is apparent he wants to leave and we have seen in recent times that this can diminish an individuals performance. That is no guarantee of this happening with Cesc and much depends on his personal and professional pride.
This assumes that being Captain of Arsenal means anything. Wenger has stated in the past that he wants eleven captains on the pitch yet there is a role for the Captain to fulfil, to galvanise through words or actions, to put right wrongs that are occuring. That individual needs to be seen to be totally committed to the cause, from the stands at least. That aspect sits uncomfortably with a player who openly wants away.