Xabi Alonso’s link with a move to Arsenal was resurrected by some of the papers yesterday.
I’m willing to believe that Alonso might leave us by the start of the season but a move to Arsenal does not convince. Leaving aside questions about the wisdom of selling to one of our so called our top four rivals, I wonder just how serious Arsenal are about Alonso or for that matter Gareth Barry who they have also been linked with?
If he was serious surely Arsene Wenger would have moved for Alonso when the Juventus sale fell through or why hasn’t he “gazumped” us over Barry? Both deals were ripe for a high jacking? My guess he is “just looking” rather than going out with a serious intention of splashing the cash. No doubt as an alternative he will have done his usual enviable trick of unearthing some young gem from Burundi that no one has heard of but certainly will have in two to three years time!
More importantly the price for both players is prohibitive. It was for Juventus over Alonso and I don’t see Arsenal, or anyone else, having a different attitude. Perhaps if it is lowered someone might bite but, Rafa’s words suggest that that there is little or no ground for maneuver.
“I don’t think it will be easy for him to leave. The value of Alonso in the market will be really high. We are really pleased with him and we don’t want him to go unless we get a very good price.”
The last sentence certainly flies in the face of Rafa’s actions so far, “good price” presumably being an amount big enough to buy Gareth Barry? However, it’s been suggested that we now have the money for Barry regardless of what happens with Alonso. Will we be able to buy Barry and keep Alonso? Surely it will be a midfielder too much and presumably the owners will want us to sell someone to offset the extra Barry money they have guaranteed?
Perhaps it will suit Rafa to keep Alonso while Mascherano is away at the Olympics and then sell in January? Who knows? Presumably all will be revealed in three weeks time but we might get a small inkling of Rafa’s intentions if Alonso is omitted from the Champions League games against Standard Liege and beyond if we qualify?
Meanwhile it seems we will have to do without the services of Sebastian Leto who has been denied a work permit for this country. I don’t profess to be up with the rules that govern this and Leto has my sympathies however, surely no one would see him as a regular fixture the first team this season? The resulting loan abroad might at least give more first team experience than he would have probably got with us?
The likes of Leto, could find themselves under threat this season from the crop of younger players Rafa has played recently, Darby, Pacheco, Ngog, Nemeth et all. One hopes that Rafa continues to give them the first team exposure they deserve. It would be a shame if having had a taste, albeit during pre season, that they weren’t able to build on this experience. Cleary they won’t start many games but surely there is an argument for Rafa fielding his strongest team from the start, something he’s not always done, and then introducing them towards the end if the game is “safe”. Hopefully competitions such as the Carling Cup will also provide opportunities and we’ll start to see the benefits of the less publicised, but just as important, deals Rafa’s quietly been doing to build up this area of the club?
It was especially encouraging to see them playing with confidence on Saturday against Rangers. Some of the papers overplayed the 4-0 win saying we “crushed” Rangers or “ran riot” however, the movement on the ball was fluid and we kept possession for long periods which is always a good sign, enabling new faces to gain confidence and integrate quicker. Andrea Dossena in particular showed increased confidence from his debut game in Switzerland putting in an assured performance capped off by amazing last ditch clearance off the line, from Nacho Novo, that I doubt he’ll ever repeat!
Finally it appears that David Martin has followed Jack Hobbs to Leicester on loan which will at least please my neighbour!