It’s been a funny Summer on the European transfer market. Aside from Daniel Alves’ long-predicted move to Barcelona, none of the bigger fish available have been caught. The likes of Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Drogba, Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Andrei Arshavin could all move this Summer, in one of the biggest shuffles of Europe’s top cards in some time.
The first dominos to fall in this star-struck rally could be two of our own: Emmanuel Adebayor and Aleksandr Hleb. If Barca secure Adebayor, it would seal the fate of Eto’o and Ronaldinho. Furthermore, if they were to take Hleb, it would free up Arshavin to move elsewhere – perhaps even to the Emirates. As Arshavin’s agent explains:
“Arshavin’s future may be dependent on conversations about [Alexander] Hleb, [Emmanuel] Adebayor, Cristiano Ronaldo and others.”
Whilst Arsene is hardly keen to sell those two stars, he trusts himself to replace them with players of equal quality. That is part of our transfer policy for the forseeable future, according to Le Boss himself:
“The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players. We manage at Arsenal to maintain all our football ambitions — national and European —while having to free up – for 17 more years – an annual surplus of £24m to pay for our stadium. The club’s strategy is to favour the policy of youngsters ahead of stars and to count on the collective quality of our game. “
The first sentence of that quote seems alarming, and I wonder if a degree of mistranslation is involved. Were Adebayor and Hleb to join Flamini on the exit list this Summer, it could represent the start of a worrying trend. Although players have been sold before, in most cases it’s been on Arsene’s terms. This time the players are leaving seemingly against his will. A reassertion of authority may be required, and for that reason I suspect one of those players will be forced to stay.
Eventually, someone will make the first move and the merry-go-round will begin. And then, things will get really interesting.