First, lets get through a couple of updates for a player which I’ve already done in the last few posts.
The situation with Cesc Fabregas gets worse week by week. The stance at Arsenal seemed to be less staunch than before. If last year, the club put out and official statement to douse the worry, none of that has happened thus far. Barcelona has started their move by offering a paltry £27 million for our captain. That was promptly rejected by Arsenal and rightly so. This lead to them asking Fabregas to go on some sort of a strike to push our hands.
However, being the consummate professional that he is, that is something that Fabregas will not do. The Spanish champions realise this tactic will not work and has come back with a improved bid of £34 million yesterday. Up to this point, there has been no official word from Arsenal on whether they have rejected/accepted the bid. I would think that this is only part 2 out of 5 and that it will be rejected. Unfortunately, the way things are, the next offer that comes from Barcelona will have to be considered by Arsene Wenger and the board.
Moving on swiftly to the last of the Invincibles, Gael Clichy. Although to be fair, he only played bit part in our last championship winning season, picking up 14 starts as he won his first and last league medal. He was of course the backup to a certain Ashley Cole back then before Cole’s acrimonious departure before the 2006/07 season which enabled Clichy to make the step up to first choice. Since then, he’s been the permanent fixture in our back line.
One of the great attributes of Clichy is his speed. That speed ensures that wingers could not beat him for pace. Even if they managed to dribble past him, his recovery is fast enough to ensure that he catches up with them. It is also that speed which provides his greatest statistic, interceptions. Any pass that is played short or too slow, you can be sure that Clichy is on hand to nick it away before going on one of his forward runs into the opposition half.
However, just like life, there’s a downside to everything. Clichy lack the positional awareness required to be a great left back. He tends to do a lot of ball watching on occasions and this allowed the opposition to sneak away from him. There’s also the callous mistakes which always turns out calamitous. The penalty in the last minute of the Birmingham game (the one which Eduardo got his leg broken) is an example than comes to mind. As for the attacking sense, he does glides past players with ease but lack the capability to provide the final ball. If pace is his power, crossing is his weakness.
Clichy has only one more year left in his contract and so far, has not shown any inclination as to whether he will renew his contract with us. That really puts us in a pinch. Just like Samir Nasri, we could risk losing for nothing next season if the situation persists. A good businessman would tell us to sell him soon if he doesn’t sign and recoup some of the money that we’ve invested in him. At 26 years of age and a full French international, we could still possibly get some decent money for him. Liverpool and Roma are rumoured to be on the prowl for him.
That being said, Wenger would really like to keep him. That may stem down to the fact that he and I share the same view that Kieran Gibbs is not good enough yet to be first choice. That is the main worry for the manager. He knows that we will have to mount a serious challenge next season for titles and that cannot be done without a fixed and able defensive four. Unless we somehow manages to find a replacement for him, I can’t see Clichy being allowed to move. Even at the expense of losing him for nothing in 2012.
You do wonder what is it that is taking the contract negotiations so long to be done. Is it a money issue? Or is the manager looking for someone else? Or is the player himself looking for new challenges? Unfortunately for us, those things will remain confidential, at least until Clichy retires or writes an autobiography. All in all, I think we can still expect to see Clichy in an Arsenal shirt for the new season.