Archive for July 29th, 2006

Fabrice Muamba might play for England, and it’s a fantastic story.

59 comments July 29th, 2006

The second Congo war of 1998-2003 was one of the worst interstate wars in modern African history, implicating more than nine African nations and earning it the nickname of “Africa’s World War“. In 1999, Fabrice and his family fled the Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, to become Asylum Seekers in Walthamstow, London.

Fabrice was just eleven years old. However, five years later he was a star of school football and signing youth terms with Arsenal. In between then and making his full first-team debut in 2005 against Sunderland, he has become a naturalized British citizen and represented England at youth level. Now his remarkable journey has taken him to Birmingham, where he will play for a season on loan. One need only read Steve Bruce’s excited comments to understand Muamba’s potential. A central midfielder in the Patrick Vieira mould, a successful spell at Birmingham could see him in contention for the Arsenal first team.

For some reason, I don’t feel the same is true of Sebastian Larsson, who is also set to spend the season with Brum. Although undoubtedly a player of versatility and class, he is yet to find a niche in the squad. Perhaps a year of first-team football will allow him to find his natural position, though unfortunately I feel he may end up suffering the same fate as Ryan Smith, who has been sold to Derby for an undisclosed fee. Injuries and ill-fortune conspired against the winger, and he never truly recovered the blistering form he showed as a sixteen-year-old. However, this is yet another contribution to the football league by the Arsenal academy, a feature of the club I’ll soon be writing a full article on. The Rams aren’t finished at Arsenal, with suggestions they could still be after Arturo Lupoli.

So that’s three players out, and David Dein has admitted what we all knew: they’ll soon be joined by a fourth, with talks between Arsenal and Chelsea taking place on the transfer of Ashley Cole. As I’ve said before: the sooner it’s done the better.

Whilst we await any arrivals with great anticipation, the transfer market is starting to click into gear as far as Manchester United are concerned, with Ruud van Nistelrooy leaving and Michael Carrick set to join. There’s been a bit of murmuring amongst Arsenal fans that we should’ve nabbed Carrick for around £3m back in 2004.

There are two things to consider in this argument: firstly, that the signing of Carrick was only being considered at that point because it looked sure that Patrick Vieira would leave; and secondly that the signing of Carrick would have halted the progress of one Cesc Fabregas.

As it turned out, the deal didn’t happen, and now he’s apparently worth £18m to Man U. But Cesc is worth far more to us, Real Madrid, and just about anyone else in world football. Carrick is a more than decent footballer, but Cesc is special. Looking back, you have to say this is another decision that Arsene got spot on.

Hopefully his refusal to pay £10m for Curtis Davies will prove to be another wise move: the defender has now pledged his future to West Brom. Well, at least he’s not going to Spurs.

Finally (sorry for the long-winded nature of this article), barring a second-leg miracle we will face Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League qualifiers. A signing or two wouldn’t hurt us get past them (hint hint, Arsene…).

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