Is that Goodbye then Phil?
As yet unconfirmed officially by Arsenal, Everton claim on their website that 'the formalities of the transfer will be finalised in the next 48 hours' confirming other reports this morning that Swiss defender Philippe Senderos is to join them on loan for the rest of the season. If so it will mean that the two Carling Cup games he played for us this year were the last in an Arsenal shirt as his contract, which is due to expire at the end of the season will not be renewed.
Neither club nor player has made any secret of the need for Senderos to move on and the signing of Sol Campbell until the end of the season made these intentions even more evident. Big Phil is looking to ensure his place in the Swiss team for the upcoming World Cup but has played little football in the last two seasons either for us or Milan on loan last season.
It`s easy to forget that he is still a young player - especially as a central defender. He won`t turn 25 until next month but has been on the club`s books for 7 years making 117 appearances with 105 starts scoring 4 goals in the process. Those appearances, naturally enough, would have been at a particularly young age and the occasional errors and misjudgements inevitable in a young defender were less easy for supporters to accept in a period when the club has struggled to repeat the success of earlier years culminating in the unbeaten title season. Nevertheless there were periods of great personal achievement in an Arsenal shirt winning an FA Cup medal in 2005 together with a notable run to the Champions League final in 2006. There is a good player still to emerge in Senderos and time could still give him enough confidence and self-belief to have a good career at a high level.
With Campbell on a short term contract only to the end of the season while both Silvestre and Gallas`s contracts are due to expire this summer news that contract extension negotiations with Gallas are 'positive` is equally positive for the shape of our central defence next year. Vermaelen has more than cemented his role and is a firm favourite with supporters. Djourou will return possibly before the end of the season but may not feature greatly and Song, who has on occasions even this season played centre back, could still find his long term role is ultimately as a central defender. The Gallas contract could be important for next season`s stability.
Though it seems only a matter of time any way, assuming we have seen the last of Big Phil in an Arsenal shirt then I wish him well knowing that he behaved well towards the club and I believe the club has behaved well towards him. As one of the good guys he can be sure he`ll get a welcome cheer whenever he gets to come back to the Emirates.
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