So a few things to power through this morning!
Firstly, I thought the whole 'Cesc tape' thing yesterday was very interesting. Arsenal contacted me to tell me the tweet about them signing off the interview was false. They didn't sign off the interview at all.
I asked if the problem was with the process not being adhered to or was it an argument about the content?
The Press Officer said the content of the quotes was being disputed on the basis of tone and understanding. Clearly Arsene Wenger believed that Cesc was telling the truth when he claimed his words were twisted as he said this...
"Not only did the author not respect the agreement, but also he did twist completely the article and we are really upset about it.
"In no way was it an attack on me. I know Cesc well enough and I don't think I need to say much more.”
Now, from a defence like that you'd assume Wenger had been in on the interview. I mean, to say Cesc said the 'total opposite' is pretty categoric. I put up a retraction regarding Arsenal signing off but I also made note that it'd be nice to know what was actually said.
Well, low and behold, Don Balon published the audio file under the headline,
'Don Balon do not twist words Mr Wenger'
According to the Independent, the audio file shows that the paper were true to their quotes. Like I said two days ago, it really is rare for a newspaper to make up entire quotes. This is a highly embarrassing moment for Arsene Wenger. The poster child of project youth has lied to his father in front of the whole world.
Does Wenger have an angry slipper at the ready?
We all know what has traditionally happened to players who speak out against the manager... ask Jens Lehmann, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry.
On a personal note, I thought the article was thoughtful and actually very positive. The captain is just saying what most of us have thought for the past 3 years. He's asking whether the club want to develop players or compete, he's asking whether it's logical that he and 100 PL games Robin should be the elder statesmen of the team and he's inviting Arsene Wenger to change his ways and keep him in the summer.
If Wenger matches Cesc's ambition this summer, he'll stay. I honestly believe that.
... but what happens if the worst happens?
If the worst happens this summer and Barcelona somehow manage to raise the £60million neccessary to take our captain off our hands, how will we cope?
Well, firstly, we've all accepted that there has to be a shake up of the squad. Regardless of what happens in the league, what we've seen in the cups and in many games we should have won is that certain players aren't cutting the mustard.
So, being pretty realistic and fair, I've put together a list of the players I expect to leave along with their salaries.
As you can see, with very little effort at all, we can free up quite a hefty amount of cash. Traore is playing well for Juve breaking into the French first team squad, Bendtner is the great white hope of Danish football, Eboue was once in the Champions League team of the year and Chamakh is tried and tested in Ligue One and has Marseille sniffing around. I think the wages are pretty fair as well and remember, Wenger lumps wages into the transfer budget.
Now, things really start getting interesting if the worst happens and we sell Cesc for the reported fee we're after.
All of a sudden, the picture looks very impressive. We'd be armed with a total transfer surplus budget of £125million and £25million worth of yearly salary to play with.
Lets break that down further. Transfer kitty is the stated transfer surplus we currently have available according to the AST number crunchers.
If Cesc Stays, we could afford to bring in 5 players at £20million each. If he leaves, we could afford to bring in 6 players at £26million each.
All without moving from where we are currently.
Now, I know that's very unlikely to happen. I'm not suggesting we do that. All I'm saying is that by selling the right players we could have a summer that could sustain us for 2 years until our commercial deals are up and we can really start making a splash in the transfer market.
* Did you see that Liverpool are on the verge of signing a £25million a year kit deal?
If we sell Cesc Fabregas, it'll be time to change the way we play football. We've lacked some serious pace in our starting 11 for some years now. My suggestion would be to opt for 2 wingers again, similar to the way the 2002 team played. We could buy in Ashley Young for £12million as he's in the last year of his contract. We could bring back Ryo Miyachi as an understudy and we could certainly afford to entertain the idea of Eden Hazard should the cheaper option of the Englishman not work out.
If we did that, all of a sudden, we'd have pace in the side.
We could then go out and sign up 2 top-notch strikers to compete with Robin Van Persie. Cavani is banging them in for Napoli, he looks a top player... and I'd be surprised if Benzema doesn't find himself on the market this summer. With the sort of money we'll have available, neither are out of our league.
In defence, we could afford the £15-20million PSG or Bolton would be asking for Sakho or Cahill. If we signed either of those two, we'd have 4 very capable centre backs who have it all to prove. Sagna will have Jenkins as his understudy and Kieron Gibbs could continue to work his way into the first team under the guidance of Clichy (gulp!).
In goal, we're set. Fabianski isn't my favourite keeper but he's done more than enough this season to tell me that if called upon, he can do a job for us. I'm not really fussed who the 3rd choice is. I wouldn't even care if it was Jen Lehmann. At least the youngsters would be training with a legend who wouldn't let their standards drop.
In midfield, I think I probably have to accept that Alex Song and Diaby will stay on. Both could benefit from competition and I'd love to see a big name come in and battle it out with them week in week out. If we sold Cesc, I'd really love us to try for Bastian Schweinsteiger again. We could opt to go with two holding midfielders and push Samir Nasri into the hole just ahead. That way, we'd have pace on the wings, pace in the hole and pace up front. Counter attacking would be more free-flowing and we'd have two power houses guarding the back 4.
We could finish the summer with a massive transfer surplus at the same time as bolstering our mentally flat squad. The numbers I've put up aren't fantasy and there are plenty of clubs who could find a use for some of the dross we currently have. Who knows, they might even be able to squeeze more out of them than Wenger!
This summer is about being ruthless, it's about making big decisions and it's about taking some big risks. Get it right and we won't need to worry about low profits for the next two-year. Get it wrong and go with more of the same... well, I fear for our Thursday nights in 2012 because I'll tell you one thing for free... our competition is not going to sit back this summer and hope everyone else allows their level to drop.
This summer is as important as any other but more so as the rumblings of discontent are now coming from superstar players... not just the fans.
Let me know what you think in the comments section!
P.S. Le Grove was asked to write a feature article in the Times today, buy a copy and turn to page 100 to have a read. Alternatively you can find it if you pay a pound through the Times website!
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