Life after Adebayor and Toure will start very soon. Yesterday’s debate was very interesting, with a lot of comments and different opinions giving us a lot to talk about throughout the afternoon when the Toure news broke. In one way, my reaction by the title of the last article, “Selling Kolo Toure is a mistake” expressed my initial reaction to the news and although my sentiments haven’t changed all that much, it may have been a little bit of an over-reaction.
From an emotional point of view, I want Kolo Toure at Arsenal – simple as that. He has epitomised what Arsenal is all about in recent times and has been a very loyal player through out his career at Arsenal. He’s played in midfield, left back, right back and central defence after original joining as an attacking player. He played along side Sol Campbell, Philippe Senderos and William Gallas in central defence and has been an outstanding player in my mind for the club.
In January, Kolo Toure handed in a transfer request and here’s what he said about it:
“I have been here a long time, and when I saw some players leaving the Club last year that was difficult for me. “Then when we didn’t start the season well I was scared. You start to think that maybe the Club don’t need you anymore. When it’s like that and you are 28 you have to think about yourself as well. But I came back, I’m playing at the moment and I hope that will carry on. There is still time on my contract and I hope the Club will show me that they need me. When you love somebody it’s important that they love you back. I have loved this club for years, and I always give everything for the team. Since I’ve been here I’ve just tried to do my best but you can’t be at the top all the time. Sometimes your level will drop a bit. That’s when you need to be strong and bounce back and that’s what I tried to do this season. People know I love the Club, nobody can say I don’t. I believe you can only truly love one club in your career, and my club is Arsenal. It doesn’t matter if I ever move onto another team, Arsenal will always be the one in my heart. When my career is finished and I’m older, I will always think of myself as an Arsenal man.”
It was a heart filled statement and it’s clear that Kolo loves being at Arsenal – he’s a fans favourite and a friendly figure around the team. But you have to consider the background behind some of the comments in his statement – firstly he refers to “not being at the top all the time” and secondly he referred to “sometimes your level with drop” and of course, this must be related to his view and the view of the club that his performances last year were not up to the standard of what they were once upon a time. When Gallas and Djourou were fit in Winter, it was them who had their run in the team and it was Kolo who was dropped.
Kolo goes on to say “it doesn’t matter if I ever move onto another team” and maybe this statement offers an insight into the thinking behind the matter – the transfer to Man City first came about in January and I’m sure it would have been discussed between Arsene and Kolo. Of course, from Kolo’s point of view, he wanted first team football and for him, if he wasn’t first choice, then it would be a problem for him.
However, from an economic point of view, the amount of money offered for Kolo was interesting – a fee believed to be £16m – take into consideration that we bought the player for £150k. Kolo, you must remember was in his last year of his contract and could have gone for free next summer. At 29 / 30, a player has retail value and as he wasn’t first choice, and wanted first team football, then maybe this can be considered a good piece of business. Arsene is famous for selling players before they decline and still have retail value – and for all his mutual affection, would you say Kolo was on the decline? I don’t actually want to analyse whether or not that’s true, because Kolo is one of my favourite players. I like players who play for the badge, respect their colours and as a defender, puts themselves in line of fire, and of course, that’s Kolo.
Kolo stat’s from last season were actually terrible – Sky Sports revealing he was 67th in the list of defenders in terms of aerial duel, 28th in terms of tackles, and 35th in clearances. When you look at Terry – being #1 or in the top 4 or 5 for these figures, then put his season into perspective. 67th in the list does not bode well considering there are only 20 clubs in the league.
Looking at the transfer activity so far, it does look like Arshavin was brought in (with time to adapt) to replace Adebayor and Vemaelen brought in to replace Kolo Toure. So in reality, we haven’t yet added to the squad, instead we’ve just replaced players that have left – albeit, with a whopping £40m surplus in cash.
Ray Parlour was in the news today and talked about the Toure transfer:
“It will be interesting to see who Arsène Wenger brings in if Kolo does leave. He’s got service from a quality player over nine years, they’ve paid his wages and they’ve still made money. I think Arsène Wenger has been unbelievable in the transfer market since he first arrived. He bought Nicolas Anelka for half a million pounds and sold him for £23.5million the season after. Nobody can knock him in the transfer market, but Adebayor has left and if Kolo Touré leaves you do need to replace him because the squad is lighter. He needed a couple of players anyway so I’m sure Arsène Wenger has got his scouting network all over the world to try and get the right players for the team.”
Now we’ve got a relatively balanced squad, there is still the matter of whether or not we’re going to sign players – and as I mentioned on Sunday, it does look like our fortunes may lie in what Arsene does with this money. If he doesn’t sign anyone, then yes, we have a squad that can go into the season – and if we have no injuries and the players are on form, then we still do have a very good chance of winning the title. But it’s a risk. Reducing the experience in the squad and reducing the size of the senior squad is definitely a risk. Yes, we’ll see more of Vela, Wilshere and Ramsey – but the question is do we have enough strength in depth and do we have adequate experience in the squad?
We’ll see what Arsene has to say later today and maybe by the time you read this, the Toure transfer may be wrapped up and we may have heard from Le Boss.
Til later mes amigos…