Posts Tagged ‘Hleb


Official news

Alex Hleb is officially a Barcelona player. The club is being very professional about this departure and even treating it like it’s a sad day by giving him the normal farewell with one of those “looks back at his career” articles; that said, when you read the thing it’s almost a backhanded compliment. In three years he scored 11 goals and got voted Belorusian player of the year twice. 11 goals in three years. In the last three years, William Gallas has more goals than Hleb. Because when he gets a chance, HE SHOOTS.

I’m not trying to get down on the kid, but damnit, watching him play for the two years prior to this was insanely frustrating. I only need to say that he averaged 25 shots… a year… in all competitions for the Arsenal fans to shake their head and mutter “shoot. SHOOT!”

So, he took his passing boots to Barcelona, away from the hustle and bustle of his home in Hampstead Heath, and it could be said that Hleb was a Wenger failure. Well, not a complete failure but a sort of half-assed failure. Wenger was never able to work his magic on Hleb and transform him from a central player to a wing player, he never could get Hleb to take chances when he got them, and in the end Arsenal couldn’t even really cash in on his transfer.

Afterward the boss had this to say

Yes, it is true that some of the things he said painted him to be a completely coddled, rich, knob. And yes while he was at Arsenal only the Holy Spirit took less shots on goal but Everyone at Arsenal wishes Alex the best of luck for the future.

I may have misheard parts of that quote but I’m pretty sure that’s what Wenger said.

And that’s the whole of the news. There are rumors that Gilberto will sign for Panathinaikos today but nothing concrete just yet. Honestly? Losing Gilberto will be a much bigger story for me than losing Hleb, but I’ll write about that when (if) it happens.

All news has gone dead over the Adebayor transfer saga. Yesterday, Galliani was quoted saying that AC Milan was done buying after landing Ronadinho and today Barca signed Hleb, so where Ade would go at this point is only left up to the wild imaginations of the football press corps. Maybe they’ll link him to Chelsea. Oh I know, Adebayor is going to Man U! You heard it here first! Tell everyone. I have the inside scoop: my brother’s cousin’s sister’s fiance saw Adebayor pass out at the Manchester Baskin Robins, it’s very serious.

What happens to Adebayor when he doesn’t get a transfer? After all that’s been said and done I have to wonder how he scampers back to the club with his tail between his legs? An understanding manager might take a look at this whole situation and see that here was a young man, who grew up very poor, fresh off a great season, who had his agent telling him things, other agents telling him things, clubs promising him things, and basically everyone in his inner circle convincing him of a bunch of stuff that was completely false. They did all that in order to unsettle the player so that they could get him for a bargain. AC Milan paid a mere £16m for Ronaldinho. Now, I know he’s fat, but this is a guy that Chelsea reportedly offered eleventy billion pounds for just last year — no, they were bargain hunting and they figured if they unsettled Adebayor enough, Arsenal might let him go for a similar amount. Meanwhile Barcelona smelled the blood in the water and let it be known that they too would buy Adebayor, if the price is going to be stupidly low, like £16m.

An understanding manager might put a crazy valuation on the player (say £35m) in order to let everyone know that he’s not only not interested in selling but also that he understands that you all are up to your old tricks and that it’s not going to work this time. Because once you put a huge value on the player, there’s no way that you can sell him for half the price and still save face.

That same understanding manager would probably have a clear-the-air meeting with the player before the begining of the season, to make sure the guy was still on board and to let him know that he understands. And then he’d re-introduce the player to the team as if he was a new signing. Which is what he’ll be because there’s no way that you can go through something like this without it being a transformative event.

Anyway, that’s what I imagine will happen. And when Adebayor steps out onto the pitch in an Arsenal shirt, we should all give him a warm, understanding, welcome back.

Just don’t do it again, Ade.

My Obsession With Robbie Savage

It looks like it’s time to hang up my Robbie Savage kicking boots because there’s no kick I could deliver that would bite nearly as much as the fact that he was dropped by Derby County. I expect Tottenham to sign him for £16m any moment now.

And Finally…

In at number 2 of the Gunner’s all time greats is Denis Bergkamp. I couldn’t possibly write a more fitting tribute to the man so, please go read it. The only thing I would add is “grit:” Bergkamp had it whenever Arsenal needed it, and the club could use a man like that right now.

Until tomorrow


Gilberto has officially left for Panathinaikos.  Far more so than Hleb, Gilberto will be missed.  His leadership (he was club captain 2 years ago) on and off the pitch, his skill as a midfield stopper, and his knack for scoring a goal at just the right moment all made him an important player for Arsenal during his 6 years with the club.

But possibly the most important quality that Arsenal need to replace, especially now when the likes of Adebayor threaten to throw the club into turmoil, was his quiet professionalism.  The way he went about playing, practicing, and coming on when asked (in whatever position the boss asked him to) after he had been stripped of his starting position and his captaincy at the start of the season speaks volumes about the class and character of the man.  It is fitting that the first we all heard that Gilberto wanted to move on was just the other day, when the deal was nearly done.  Not a peep to the press about it.  No agent angling for a better deal.  No complaints about “mistreatment” or “slavery” by his former employers.  Just a “hey thanks I had fun, I’m going to finish my career in Greece if you don’t mind.”

Arsenal need more men like that, especially now.

Good luck, Gio, your class will be nearly impossible to replace.


Ready? Set!

Xabi Alonso waves good bye

It’s a morning of players “set” to do stuff.

Hleb is set to get a medical today and be revealed as a Barcelona player tomorrow.

Gilberto is set to get a medical today and be revealed as a Panathinaikos player tomorrow.

Arsenal are set to make a bid for Xabi Alonso [record scratch] wait, whut?  Hey! Back in May I made a joke about Xabi coming to Arsenal in order to point out the silliness of speculating and now it looks like that joke has come full circle.  Don’t get me wrong: Xabi Alonso is a very good player and would be the perfect replacement for Flamini — he’s one of the best passers in the EPL, he’s got a great engine, and he’s won the Champions League.  BUT! As much as I would love to see Xabi in an Arsenal shirt this story is thinner than Nichole Ritchie.  First, the death of the Alonso to Juve deal is being touted as the reason why Liverpool can’t sign Keane/Barry.  Second, Arsenal have been linked to Barry.  Third, why would Arsenal give Liverpool the money they need to sign a player that Arsenal also want?  Fourth, does Arsenal really want to give Liverpool the money to sign Keane?  And finally, would that really be a good deal for the Arsenal?


The smart move is to go for Barry because that gives Villa the money to go for Bentley, which upsets Tottenham’s attempts to land the player, and it pips Liverpool to a player, and it gives Arsenal an Englishman that they can use to festoon all their advertisements and make Sepp Blatter/Michel Platini/Xenophobic Nationalists happy.

But that’s all blogger speculation, right?  What does the club actually say about all this?  Peter Hill-Wood wades in to the debate.

Maybe people need to wake up to the realities of the world and that the days of easy money have come to a pretty sudden end. There is an awful lot of talk about big transfers and major demands of players, but you will find throughout the UK and Europe that money is not quite as easy to obtain as it used to be. So I feel a lot of these stories emanating from agents may not actually come to fruition. There is a lot of talk but no action. It disappoints me because a lot of people don’t seem to realise that, in the long run, you must run a football club on a sensible commercial basis.

A solid reminder that Arsenal aren’t buying anyone this summer and to look closely at the stories and see who’s saying what.  In the case of the Alonso story it’s a “his agent said” so I’m putting that at 0.00% chance of being true.  The Barry story is closer to true but the only thing we know for sure is that Arsenal want to be kept “in the loop.” This could mean that they are anywhere from actively looking at the guy to waiting around in case there’s a chance to get a great deal, with the latter the most likely scenario.

It’s that last part of the PHW quote that makes me so confident that Arsenal aren’t buying any more players even if they do get £30m for Adebayor.  Add up the transfers: Arsenal are pretty much even in the transfer market.  Assuming that the Hleb story is true and Arsenal are getting £15m for him, now subtract Nasri’s £11m and Ramsey’s £5m: pretty much break even.

Now look at PHW and Wenger’s comments, they keep using words like “stability” and describing last season as “unfortunate” and we keep hearing how the Boss would much rather take young players and turn them into big stars.  These aren’t hints, folks, they are straight up telling us that unless there’s some kind of incredibly great deal this is the team we will see on the pitch next season. Any other money generated from player sales will be saved in case of an emergency and players need to be bought during the January transfer window.  That’s my word.

Finally, Tony Adams is #3 on the all time greats list, which means that Bergkamp and Henry have to be #2 and #1 respectively.  As for Adams, I don’t think Arsenal will ever see another player like him, check out the story on the dot com (linked above).


No Yaya

Barcelona have reportedly tabled an official £8m offer for Alex Hleb. It’s also being reported that Hleb has already agreed to an £80k/wk contract with Barcelona which explains the throwaway bid: Barcelona, having tapped up the player, have to feel that they are in the driver’s seat. Barca feel so confident of signing Hleb that they are making ridiculously small offers and taking away negotiation pieces such as Yaya Toure.

£8m is just barely more than Arsenal would make if Hleb bought out the remainder of his contract. That’s a pretty insulting bid, but don’t be surprised if we see a figure like £9.6m at the end of the day. That’s the reality that the Webster ruling brings to clubs. Let’s just hope that Arsenal keep all players under 4+ year contacts, so they can get fair value for them when they do leave.

On the ‘player’s coming in’ front, Wenger has uncharacteristically responded to rumors and publicly ruled out Vincent Kompany. More shocking than his ruling out of the infamously injured defender is the statement that went with it:

I know him to be very, very good but I have decided that defenders are no longer necessarily needed for next season.

There are many ways to read that. You could see it as a boss who feels confident in a back 4 chosen from Gallas, Toure, Sagna, Clichy, Song, Senderos, Hoyte, and Eboue. You could see it as a manager who already has a signing lined up and it’s not Kompany, let’s just say, to keep the boo birds happy, that Wenger is in negotiations with Micah Richards. Or you could see it as Wenger losing his grip on reality. Judging by the responses from fans I’m going with a 10%, 2%, 88% split of the three. No one hates Arsenal as much as an Arsenal supporter; love and hate are, after all, two sides of the same emotion.

I fall in the ‘let’s think about this before we react’ category. First, it’s just one statement and it’s a statement that contradicts his earlier proclamation about needing a burly defender. So, he either thinks he’s found that defender within the squad or he’s got someone lined up. Second, he leaves wiggle room in that statement by saying “no longer necessarily needed.” He could always change his mind, he is the boss! Which brings me to third, Wenger is known for his close negotiations and press diversions: it’s a smart way to keep a player’s valuation down to earth. So, there is a possibility that he IS in fact buying a defender and that all of this is just a lie to throw the press off the scent. And finally, why do we think we know better than Arsene Wenger?

My feeling is that it’s not going to be Kompany no matter who it won’t be. And that’s my word.

Meanwhile, the Adebayor/Roque Santa Cruz story just won’t die. The story stays alive because Milan and the Italian press keep stirring it up. Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani told their version of Arsenal TV that they sent a letter to Arsenal inquiring about Ade but they haven’t heard anything back. Big surprise there. Wenger has put a £30m price tag on Adebayor so unless the letter said something like “Dear Arsenal, please consider our bid of £78m for Emmanuel Adebayor, kthnksbyelove Milan” I don’t see Wenger coming in off his vacation to write them back. “Dear Milan, Stuff your hole with gelatto. Best wishes, Arsene Wenger.”

And Finally…

Sir David Richards’ job is in jeopardy after his insane comments about foreigners and England’s failed Euro 2008 campaign. When the head of the world’s most successful, multicultural business starts to make xenophobic (and some say, racist) remarks about foreigners — he has to go. As some parting advice to Sir David, and all those people who want to build a fence around England and keep the unwashed masses out, why not take a look at what’s happening to some of Britain’s youth? Up in the frozen wastelands of the SPL, Palermo has made a bid for promising Scottish youngster James McCarthy. I saw a few other stories this morning about English youth going to Spain and Italy as well, but the links were 404 dead dead dead so I can’t link them here. But the point is that English youth leaving the Islands to get an education abroad is what will make the England National Team better and that’s starting to happen. I’m not suggesting that Palermo’s academy is the best in the world, just that the more cultural exchange and competition that all players (the world over) experience, the better football will be.

Mr. Richards… tear down that wall.


2 down 1 to go

Arsenal have revealed that they now have not one, but TWO! summer signings to report.

First, Carlos Vela was given a work permit and will be getting some first team action. The boss had the following to say about the kid

Vela will be involved with the first-team next season. He has played the whole season at Osasuna on the left wing and he had to work hard there. But for me it is not his position, he is a central striker, an Eduardo type. He is a great young player.

Which I take to mean that he will try to fill Eduardo’s shoes while Dudu is out rehabbing the leg that became broken (how’s that for passive voice?). I’m treating this as one of the “two to three” signings that Arsene promised. Wooo hoo! One down, two to go!

Arsenal’s second signing is none other than Vassiriki Diaby! No, he’s not Diaby’s brother (bet you didn’t know that Diaby’s real first name is Vassiriki) it’s Diaby, the player formerly known as Abou Diaby and Stewart Robson figures he will fill Flamini’s shoes.

Some worry that he takes too much time on the ball and can get caught, but I remember him from last year in that role and I thought he was ideal. He breaks up attacks with his ability to get across the field and get tackles in, but he has also got good ability on the ball. His ball manipulation allows him to change the point of attack

Other people question Diaby’s toughness but I think he’s tough enough; he got a straight red card against some dude with 8 vowels in his name and it was a Vieira type tackle. I know the comparison to Vieira is old hat to some of you and some of you are probably sick to death of hearing it. Even more of you are doubtful he can do the job. My argument goes like this: Diaby has the size and range to do the job that Vieira did roaming the midfield, but he also has the ball skills of Diarra, the speed of Adebayor, and the scoring nose of Pires. What he clearly lacks is that “defensive spidey sense” that a great holding midfielder has, the engine that someone like Gattuso has, and his tackling can be very sloppy at times. And so at times he seems lazy, slow to react and rash in the challenge. Can Wenger teach him those skills? We’ll see.

So, welcome Arsenal’s second signing, Vassiriki Abou Diaby.

In the “Transfer out” section, Hleb’s agent has been talking to every team under the sun. Hleb’s agent has now revealed that he’s had talks with Real Madrid, Milan, and anyone else who will listen. Good for him. When will these teams contact ARSENAL? After all, Arsenal are the ones who hold his contract and the decision as to where the player will play next season is entirely up to them. Pick up the phone Real. Call Arsenal.

Oh wait… Maybe they have been calling but can’t get through. I guess the phones are down. Well, then SEND A COURIER!

Finally, Marco van Basten may bend the rules this summer and play Robin van Persie. I guess they have a rule against playing “injury prone” players but Van Persie is so special that he’s willing to make an exception. Ugh. Robin was able to start just 7 Premier League games and is still struggling with a thigh problem. Please don’t play him. Please?

Oh yeah, if you want a good laugh, check this out. Turns out Terry had to take that penalty because Le Sulk refused to do it. He didn’t feel like he’d been part of the game yet. Of course two shots later, he felt part enough to take the penalty… and it was a poor attempt at that. I doubt Anelka will be at Chelsea next year. Especially now that they’ve discovered his yellow streak and that he’s complaining about his role.

Why can’t footballers just play football? Christ.


Vincenzo Morabito, super agent

“Trevor here has generated a lot of interest from Arsenal.”

Lately it seems like every time I turn around I see the name Vincenzo Morabito. Alex Hleb? His agent is a friend of Vincenzo. Adebayor? Vincenzo is his agent. And just today Arsenal were linked with Alberto Aquilani. His agent? Vincenzo…

Someone please muzzle this guy? He’s running rampant in the British press, linking everyone in and out of Arsenal in some lame attempt to raise their contract prices.

Since then, Morabito told Roma that his client expects an improved contract if they want to retain the player’s services at the Stadio Olimpico. “Aquilani is speaking to Arsenal,” Morabito confirmed. “We will have to see if Roma will be able to match his demands.”

Dude, if you’re going to be so obvious about lying to the press about interest from other clubs you’re only going to hurt your client’s chances. I have to wonder if Vincenzo represents Nasri?

The only good part of his transparent attempt to inflate their contract value is that maybe the Adebayor story will finally die. What am I saying? That will never happen. The press have nothing else to report about Arsenal so EVERY FRIGGIN story says “since Adebayor/Hleb is leaving, Arsene is signing (fill in player’s name here).”

This is really nuts.

Today’s replacement for Adebayor is Rocky Saint Cross. I dig the Arsenal supporter’s comments on that story, they’re more accurate that the story itself.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for transfer speculation today. Slow day, Vincenzo must have taken the morning off.

Over at the dot com, they are having “season review week” and so far my favorite article is the comparison of this season’s stats with the other title winners. Arsenal supporters should memorize some of those stats so that when we hear our local pub pundit trot out the tired warhorses “Arsenal needed to score more” or “Arsenal need to spend $$$ to win the title” we can reply with:

Really? Because Arsenal earned money in the transfer market and they improved their team a whopping 15 points over last season. And despite the common misconception that Arsenal need to score more, they scored more on the road than last season and garnered 11 more goals in all than the previous seasons. In fact, if you compare this season to the Invincibles they rate very highly: scoring more goals and keeping the home court advantage equally as well.

And finally I will leave you with a little piece about Senderos. He claims the boss loves him and that despite what the haters might say, he’s staying at Arsenal until his contract is up. Suck it, haters.


No real news

Good day to you dear readers! You’ll notice that I have a new link in my blogroll — every time I say “blogroll” it reminds me of “bog roll” which as some of you may know is what Brits call toilet paper. One day I’ll get around to changing that from “blogroll” to something else. Anyway, welcome to our new friends from EPL Talk. He seems like a nice enough guy and his blog has a lot of good stuff on the transfer market.

And on that note: the first bit of transfer news is in and Matt Connolly is off to QPR. He will be dearly missed. Actually, he’ll probably be off to a great career like so many other young men who have come through the Arsenal youth system.  Or maybe he’ll just be a tremendous dick like David Bentley.

Barcelona are blowing hot air about Hleb, or maybe Alonso,but certainly Cesc, but they have their eye on Hleb. Yes, Hleb. At the end of the season they will definitely have their eye on him.

So far, that’s it. If something huge happens you can sleep soundly knowing that I will be on it…

I guess I could talk a minute about “Prawn sandwich gate II.” I guess Sir Whiskey Face got mad at the Old Trafford fans for not being behind their team enough during their 1-0 win. Uhhh. OK. So, naturally, the fans are hitting back and comparing Old Trafford to a police state. Now, I find the fan’s reaction particularly offensive. I mean I LIVE in a police state; illegal wire taps, torture, indefinite internment, spying on our citizens. If anyone has a right to over react and accuse their authorities of fostering a police state it’s America — God Bless it. Old Trafford is more like a weekend at one of those all-inclusive places in Mexico. You know, the places where Americans go so they can simultaneously escape America yet not be confronted with anything un-American like poverty, dirt, or Mexicans. So enjoy your prawn sandwich and quit yer bitchin. You get what you pay for and Glazer paid a lot to have a sunny vacation spot in Manchester and he doesn’t want it ruined by hooligans.

OK, to be serious for a minute. I’ve only been to two EPL matches: one at Highbury and one at Emirates and yes, the crowd noise is different in the new stadium. And yes, it does say plainly on the ticket that people who are caught standing will be ejected. Even given these police state limitations on my right to obstruct the view of some 10 year old, both crowds managed to make quite a bit of noise. Far more than I’ve heard at most American sporting venues. Hell, if you want a funereal atmosphere, go watch the Seattle Supersonics play the New York Knicks. I think that game might legally require one of those “may cause drowsiness/do not operate heavy machinery” warning labels. I’m fairly certain that what’s going on here is pining for the olde days of terraces. But you can’t have both a team that buys every expensive player in the world and a working class team, pal. Sorry.

It could be worse.  You could be forced to attend a Chicago Fire match in which the incessant beating of kettle drums and spine chilling drone of those stupid horns is what amounts to “crowd noise.”  I can’t even stand to listen to those matches on television because the boom boom boom and bruuuuuuuu bruuuuuuu bruuuuuu is grating on my very last nerve.  I guess what I’m saying is, Man U fans should enjoy your prawn sandwiches, inflated ticket prices, and solemn atmosphere.  You made a bargain with the devil and now it’s time to pay the price.

Which is yet another reason the Arsenal is so special.

Ok, that’s about it for today.  I’ll let you know just as soon as Lehmann is moved on to Dortmund or whatever gulag archipelago he is to be confined to for the rest of his natural life.  The nut.

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