Thursday, July 17, 2008

Goodbye, Alex Hleb

"We are comfortable with our decision to let him go and we are all looking forward to continuing our preparations for the new season ahead. Everyone at Arsenal wishes Alex the best of luck for the future."

- Arsene Wenger, saying it for all of us

Last one out of Emirates, please turn off the lights.

I'm sad that Gilberto's left us, but I can understand him leaving us for more game time. Wenger's got his eyes firmly on the future, and he's very unsentimental with regards to his older players. I wish him well for the future because he seems like a really good guy, a model professional, and one of the best Arsenal captains we've never had.

With regards to Hleb, however, it's a bit anti-climatic. We've known for a while that Hleb would go, and to be honest, no one really cared where he went. All that mattered was to recoup our inital investment and buy a replacement. And, we've got the funds, and we've bought the replacement, in the form of Samir Nasri.

Once you do the permutations, it's starts to get exicting. Vela, Walcott, Rosicky, Nasri on the wings. There's a lot of promise, a lot of skill and a lot of pace in those players. I think Vela will become as our left winger, despite Wenger's protestations. We've probably got enough strikers - on the proviso that we buy a replacement for Adebayor.

With regards to Hleb, however, it's a good deal for him. I think it's double his exisiting contract with Arsenal, over four years instead of just two - so he'll be financially secure during his long retirement. He might even have enough to buy a rural retreat in Belarus and raise cows. It's strange that Barca would want him - Iniesta and Messi are pretty handy players, to my mind - but I'd agree with his statement that signing for Barcelona is "like a dream". I get shivers when I manage Barca on FM08 - I'd probably have to lie down if I signed for them for real.

It's interesting that Hleb was signed only a few days after Ronaldinho was sold, both for fairly similiar prices. I guess the transfer gridlock is starting to unblock. Maybe in the next few days, we'll get that experienced central midfielder we've been craving.

Anyway, Alex Hleb, goodbye, farewell and amen.

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