Saturday, May 10, 2008
Hlebgate to follow same route as Colegate
By 1970’s Gooner
The writing has been on the cards ever since Alexander Hleb was spotted meeting Inter Milan’s hierarchy, reportedly at an ice cream parlour in Milan, the day before Arsenal’s emphatic win at the San Siro in March of this year.
If a player has made that decision to meet and talk with a club that wants to sign him and in clandestine conditions then it surely means that at the very minimum he is not discarding the idea of moving on. And in all probability he is attracted strongly to making that step over.
So it was no surprise now that the season is ending that Hleb’s agent is making the necessary noises to begin the complicated process of Hleb’s departure from Arsenal.
Hleb’s agent, Nikolai Shpilevski, revealed the Belarus midfielder gave Wenger the news face- to-face.
“Alex is preparing to make one of the most important moves of his life. “He is leaving even though Arsenal want to offer him a new long-term contract.
“Only time will tell if it is the right decision but there’s no way back now. Everything will be settled in the next two weeks” he said.
Wenger’s reaction has been emphatic and predictable.
“Nobody goes. It’s that simple. It’s about what is good for the club.”
It is an emphatic response because he is right to immediately want to stop the rot which is now creeping in with the departure of first team stalwart Flamini but also of Lehmann and possibly Gilberto.
But it is also worryingly predictable because Wenger has reacted in the same way as when Ashley Cole was caught meeting with Mourinho in a London Hotel while on contract with Arsenal.
He has threatened to report Inter and take them to court; just as he did with Chelsea and Ashley Cole.
Responding to Hleb’s intention to buy out his contract for £3million he said: “You can’t come in the next day and buy it out.
“You may have to go to court and can be banned if it’s not done right. It takes months.”
This is a statement of intent by Wenger letting the player and his agent know (and a few other Arsenal players too) that Arsenal will stand firm and if pushed will deliberately drag out the court process.
This will mean that Hleb’s transfer to Inter may be delayed (if their appeal is eventually successful that is) even later than the transfer window closes thus wrecking his chances for making the move.
But is this really the way to go? For it is highly reminiscent of the Ashley Cole case, where eventually Arsenal had to acquiesce and let the player go to Chelsea (albeit with Gallas coming the other way).
Does Arsene really believe that if this whole process ends up pissing Hleb off even further that the player will be in any state and frame of mind to play for Arsenal again?
Are these Arsenal’s top five players of the season?
Wenger’s three experiments that went bust and two that didn’t
Wenger: "Thanks Nastya for Hleb's resurgence"