Archive for May 6th, 2008

Milan are a much bigger club than Arsenal

1 comment May 6th, 2008

The iconic red and black stripes are known throughout the world. The San Siro holds 82,955, and in Kaka they have arguably the world’s greatest player. Above and beyond all that, AC Milan are one of the most winningest clubs in the world, with 17 Serie A titles, 7 European Cups, and a World Club Cup to boot.

Flamini with future team-mate KakeSo why are people surprised that Mathieu Flamini has left us to join them?

Whilst Arsene Wenger has worked wonders in transforming the reputation of Arsenal, and has undoubtedly cemented it’s position amongst Europe’s elite, we cannot claim to sit atop the same pedestal as the likes of Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and (much as I hate to say it) Manchester United.

A French kid of Italian parentage, growing up on the Mediterranean coast, was always more likely to dream of growing up to represent the Rossonieri than the Gunners. Throw in the fact that he’ll be earning several times what he currently does at Arsenal, and Flamini’s decision is easy to understand.

It’s about money, and it’s about security. Flamini probably hasn’t forgotten that just a year ago Arsenal would’ve been happy to see him sign for Birmingham. In the space of twelve months, his reputation has shot up to see him recognised as one of the best midfielders in Europe. Acutely aware of the fickle nature of football, Flamini has capitalised on this to secure his dream lifestyle whilst the iron is piping hot. Who can honestly say they wouldn’t have done the same?

Mathieu Flamini’s close pal, Alex Hleb, has reportedly told team-mates he intends to follow Flamini to Milan by joing Inter in the Summer. Under new regulations, he is able to buy out his contract, rendering us essentially powerless to stop him. Allow a friend to who actually understands the rules to explain how it works:

“He serves notice on Arsenal of his intention to leave. He (and any club he then signs for) are held jointly and severally liable to pay Arsenal for buying out his contract. So once Hleb has served notice on Arsenal of his intention to quit, Inter can quite legitimately say to Hleb “We’ll pick up the tab on this one old chap”, and write Arsenal the (very small) cheque.”

It really is the death knell for the transfer system as we know it, and is forcing clubs to offer players contract extensions with worrying regularity – witness Bacary Sagna being offered an admittedly deserved new deal within twelve months of joining the club.

Amazing to think that after a season in which the self-professed ‘Spice Boys’ – Rosicky, Fabregas, Hleb and Flamini – emerged as our first choice midfield, half of them could be off before next season has begun.

Then again, a glance at our fixture list reveals that the awesome foursome only started three games together this term – a shocking record.  If there was ever a time to reshape our midfield, perhaps this is it (though Calderon can back right off).

Losing Hleb and Flamini would only be a tremendous blow if they were not suitably replaced.  If Flamini is replaced with someone with more craft, and Hleb with a player who is capable of the occasional shot, then we might even (God forbid) improve.

It’s all down to Arsene.  Big Summer for Le Boss.  We seem to say that every year…

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