Arsenal's Battle To Dispense and Retain
Aside from shenanigans over wantaway captains and the expected intake of summer recruits, one of the club`s biggest jobs this summer will be to shift some of the unwanted squad players. Andrey Arshavin`s typically laconic (and probably quite reasonable) statement to Russia fans following their ignominious exit from Euro 2012 has made him a pariah in his own country and killed the chance of striking a permanent deal with Zenit St. Petersburg. (Their president didn`t mince his words, telling the press Arshavin "should be deported" for his comments).
But Arsenal are struggling to shift other players too. Even though he still has a year to run on his deal, the club seem willing to grant Sebastien Squillaci a free transfer to help move him on. His £50,000 a week wages are a stumbling block nobody has seen fit to hurdle. A deal looked to be close with Bastia, but even the prospect of a free hasn`t been able to bridge that gap.
Their president Pierre-Marie Geronimi told French radio station RMC, "Sebastien Squillaci is an extraordinary player who plays for Arsenal where he has one year contract. I can not even give you his salary. He is one of the players who are out of reach for us and for many clubs in France.
"Times are tough for everyone," he added. "It will be increasingly difficult for the French players playing abroad to return to France. There is too much difference today between a wage in France and the English salaries, and the tax incentives in France will not be made for the benefit of these type of players."
Some (rather ropey looking, it has to be said) quotes appeared in the press yesterday, purportedly from Arsene Wenger, suggesting Italian outfit Fiorentina had made an offer for surplus striker Marouane Chamakh. But the Serie A club have today refuted the suggestion, with Viola President Daniele Pradi telling SportItalia, "'Have we made an offer for Chamakh? We have not made one because he earns three million euros (per season).' The fact that Pradi appears au fait with Chamakh`s salary suggests there might have been some interest, reading between the lines.
Meanwhile, French paper L`Equipe is reporting that Arsenal have offered improved terms to Laurent Koscielny, whose deal runs out in 2014. The Gunners are reportedly looking to sign the French international defender until 2017. Koscielny, like Alex Song, Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs, has two years to run on his current deal, which makes this a very busy summer for the staff at Arsenal indeed. Keep a spare blackberry charger Ivan. LD.