Samir Nasri, Cesc Fagregas, Gael Clichy. Three players that have been in North London so long you can almost hear a tint of cockney. But for how much longer is the big question today. Manchester United have “apparently” made a bid of £20m for Nasri, Barcelona are doing their usual hounding of Fabregas and Clichy feels it may be time to move on, with Liverpool and Italy likely destinations.
For Wenger his toughest task this summer will be to keep hold of all three of them, no longer can he make promises that the trophies will come, they have heard that every summer over the six years, if you like, Arsenal is a computer on a shelf that not even PC World’s Salesperson of the year will be able to sell to the same punters for a sixth year in a row.
The fact is, the three players know Arsenal inside and out, they know the procedures, they know the training drills, they know the club, they know the fans. Wenger will not be able to persuade them using the words Arsenal, history, and the fan base.
The computer needs new hardware. Nasri, Fabregas and Clichy know it, the fans know it, and to an extent Arsene Wenger knows it. Where over the years the computers that are Chelsea and Manchester United have purchased more megabytes, disk space, and usb slots, Arsenal have looked to just continue defragmenting in the hope it begins to run as it did in 1998.
When we switch hardware to players there are some obvious choices, but the three talents will want to see some big names walking through the door at the Emirates – some very big names. You cannot tell me that Fabregas will be thumping his fist at the news that Gervinho is about to join, or that Wenger has found yet another 13 year old who will be brilliant but at the age of 24 want to return back to Spain.
When you read of the players that United and Chelsea are linked with you get the feeling of anxiety, that wow factor. No longer is that the case for Arsenal who have over the last few years invested far too much in youth and not in retaining the good players they create, nor purchasing experienced talent to help the youngsters progress.
Some of the three may have already made up their minds regardless of who Wenger purchases, at least one of Nasri, Fabregas and Clichy will be on their way out – I hope I am proved wrong. For Wenger the question is this, does he invest £50m on bringing some decent stars to help the three amigos make the decision to stay or does he sell up, invest some and watch the Arsenal shares go up once more?