By Tony Attwood
Alisher Usmanov always says that his interest is in making Arsenal a competition winning club. He also says that Thierry Henry has urged him to take over Arsenal – and on this I can’t give an opinion. It would be nice to see a piece by Thierry in which he confirms this. Mr Usmanov said, Thierry Henry is “pushing me to buy all of Arsenal’s shares, but I cannot predict the future.” But as I will show later there is a little reason to doubt this – not of course that I am saying Mr U is not telling it to us straight.
But more to the point, Mr Usmanov interviewed in L’Equipe, reminds us of all the players Arsenal have sold in recent years: Robin van Persie, Cesc Fábregas, Samir Nasri, Alexandre Song, Gaël Clichy, Mathieu Flamini, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry.
Setting himself aside from the AAA, whose leaders have recently said that Mr Wenger should not be allowed to buy any more players at all, Mr Usmanov has said or Mr Wenger,”For me, he’s one of the best coaches in the world, but it’s not easy for him. I think he deserves that players are brought in at Arsenal when they’re needed.”Now let us think for a moment about that list.
For a start most of the players were sold at a huge profit, thus giving money to the club to buy new players, some of whose talents we now enjoy.
Secondly not all of those players we sold were worth the money that was paid for them. To take them in the order Mr Usmanov mentioned them:
Robin van Persie: at the moment we have half a season to evaluate his contribution to Man U. Of course at this stage he is doing very well indeed – but let us not forget that only three years before his actual sale the AAA were urging his sale and calling him “glass ankles”. Of course I don’t know the details of his contract but it is said to be a five year deal. It will be interesting to see how well he does in the second half of that contract. He cost us £2m or thereabouts.
Cesc Fábregas has not always found it easy to get into the team at Barcelona – from whom we bought him for about half a million but he is settling down now. So just a profit and the chance to buy Cazorla
Samir Nasri again sold on at a profit was warned in his first season with Manchester City that he needed to sort himself out and play to his potential if he wanted to be in the team.
Alexandre Song was recently voted as one of the two worst transfers into Spain of last summer. He has played eight times this season, I believe. Since he was claimed by many of the AAA as being not fit to wear the shirt after a performance against Fulham, this presumably hasn’t come as much surprise.
Gaël Clichy was another player who we got for next to nothing. He seems to have settled down well in Manchester.
Mathieu Flamini is a strange player for Mr Usmanov to mention. He went on a free to Milan but failed to get in the team very often. At the end of his contract, with Milan being unable to sell him, he was released for nothing. Eventually with no one wanting him at all Flamini returned to the club on a much lower salary.
Patrick Vieira was a stunning player bought from Milan for £3.5 million. He moved to Juventus and won the championship with them, before it was removed from the club and the club was relegated. He quickly moved on.
Thierry Henry, as we have calculated on this site, cost Barcelona £250,000 a game, if one includes transfer fees and salary. I am not sure many would say that genius and wonderful man that he is, he was worth that.
Now if Mr Usmanov were to be in power, presumably money would not be an issue so we can forget about all the players that made us a profit. But we might reflect that some of them were in fact coming to the end of their careers, or were over achieving at Arsenal, when they were sold.
Of course I would have liked Patrick Vieira, Robin van Persie and Cesc Fábregas to stay, but against that I am not sure that we would have witnessed the fruition of Theo which has been good to watch – and which could keep us on the edge of our seats for some years to come. Thierry, when he left, was not up to his past standard, and Patrick V only had a couple of years left in him at the highest level.
But the strangest thing is for Mr Usmanov to mention Flamini. Not giving in to his crazy wage demands was one of the best bits of business Arsenal ever did – apart from the selling of Hleb to Barcelona for €17 million. He played for them 19 times – thus making him the most expensive flop ever at over €1.5 million per game (including transfer fee and salary). Still to be fair Mr U didn’t mention Hleb, so we can’t.
The fact that Mr U did however mention Flamini suggests that he and his advisers are perhaps not as well up on the world game as he might like to think. Also if he really was discussing these matters with Thierry, surely Thierry would have pointed out that Flamini had one, and only one good season at Arsenal, and it was a long, long, downhill slide thereafter.
But still, its a complex business this football lark.
- Giroud: from flop to not so bad at all
- Arsenal’s greatest ever win at Highbury – on this day
- Liverpool, QPR, Tottenham, Norwich out, Chelsea draw, Arsenal/Blackburn and remembering G Graham at Millwall
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches