Date:Saturday August 7 2010
It`s been a noisy summer so far. Even the constant drone of vuvuzelas have sounded less monotonous and irritating than the persistently grating noises coming from Catalunya.
If you want to be heard you have to make a noise I suppose and Presidential elections at Barca and Real have always called upon the nominees to make more noise than the other candidates. Ramon Calderon famously promised the signing of Fabregas and others, back in 2006 when running for Real`s presidency. Quite what noises Cesc had heard before issuing what amounted to a come-and-get-me plea prior to the world cup will be known only to him but he was aware enough to ensure that the sounds he made could echo comfortably when needed. "If I decide to leave Arsenal, it will be to wear the shirt of Barcelona. I don't know when this will happen though. I'm very happy at Arsenal. I'm in no hurry to leave the club" he wisely included no doubt with the noises he had heard from Wenger making it clear Barcelona wouldn`t get him on the cheap. Cesc kept his own noise production to a minimum throughout the summer. Other than his opening invitation and his eventual commitment to Arsenal next to nothing was heard from him though plenty of others spoke on his behalf. For a such a young man Cesc has discovered early that the art of making the right noises relies on the silences in between.
As it transpires Barcelona didn`t even have enough money to pay their players on time in June let alone come up with a fee that was ever likely to secure a player considered one the best in the world in his position, with a good 10 years of a professional career in front of him and already under a strong contract at a financially strong club. Empty vessels make the most noise it seems and Barca`s empty cash box is still making plenty of noise with the statement today that neither offer made exceeded (in other words they offered) €40m seeming to mock their own inability to deliver on their proud presidential boasts. They`ll look to do a deal next season when Cesc will probably be outside his protected period opening up the possibility of buying himself out of his contract. The problem for Barca within that scenario is that under Fifa statutes the club Cesc joins is jointly liable to pay the compensation to Arsenal. Much of Barcelona`s current liabilities are monies owed to other clubs for previous transfers, reportedly this summer still some £10m or so to Arsenal in respect of earlier deals for Hleb and Henry.
The noise that some clubs can make about their spending power is amplified by this practice of allowing clubs to pay on hire purchase. Even supposedly mega-rich Man City apparently owes almost £80m to other clubs a figure destined to leap higher this summer. A requirement for clubs to pay transfer fees in full on registration might have as much effect on financial fair play as anything in the laudable but wordy structure adopted by Uefa this summer. The noise Arsenal should be making next summer should loudly and clearly be heard as no payments by instalment for Cesc. Even €40m might not be easy for Barcelona to find in one go without some reflective silence among those grappling with their cashflow.
But not all football noises are unwelcome as it`s a game that benefits from some noise. More cheers than boos in the stadium always lifts the spirits but at least Robin van Persie seems to have the art of making the right noises as he demonstrated that some players can show more commitment than the current cynicism towards highly paid players would have us believe:
"I have never stopped believing in Arsenal. I love this club, this is my seventh year now. Arsenal gave me a chance to develop into a good player and I want to repay the Club and the fans and everyone with trophies.
"I love the way of thinking at Arsenal, the way of playing really stands out. I know two teams who play similar football; they are us and Barcelona. Some teams are trying but not really coming close. I speak to colleagues in the national team from different big teams which have a different way of thinking. But I prefer our way of thinking, very much. That's why I believe and I don't stop believing when things go against us."
Now, if he can only avoid making that noise of the ball hitting the woodwork quite as often as he seems to have done in the past in exchange for the softer sound of rippling goal nets, he will have us all making plenty of appreciative noise.
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Date:Saturday August 7 2010
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