30 April 2013

Oi, Zlatan! Arsene's on his way to PSG!

I don't know how hard to laugh at rumors that have Arsène moving to PSG in the summer. I'm not referring to its implausibility, although it is far-fetched. We at Arsenal have long since learned that, during any given transfer window, anyone is available if the price and timing are right, so to reject any transfer outright is too much of a knee-jerk reaction. However, to hear that Wenger might break his contract to go to nouveau-riche PSG this summer is a bridge too far. It doesn't beggar belief, necessarily. He's French, they're French; he's had a fair amount of ungrateful critics heaping abuse on him (well, they have gone strangely quiet lately), so maybe a change of pace would do him good. However, I'm not really worried too much about all of that.

What amuses me the most about this latest rumor is the Ibrahimovic connection. The last time we had to worry about Ibrahimovic was when we faced AC Milan in the Champions League last season. It was then that the stories came out that Arsène was close to signing him in 2000 and was told, after asking Ibrahimovic to go through a brief training session, that "Zlatan doesn't do trials". Or so the story goes. The way it's been reported makes it seem that Ibrahimovic was so arrogant that he told Arsène off with a witty one-liner. However, I suspect that this is a classic fish story. Sure, I'll accept that Ibrahimovic refused to go through the trial, but I'll only accept on the grounds that he's burnished that story to make it seem like he had one over on the manager. It's far more likely that he was petulant or whiny about it. He was only 16 at the time, and even as sarcastic and brash as teenagers can be, I still don't fully believe the version of the story on offer. I could see him saying that kind of stuff now, but not back then before he had proven his talent. It's only through the passage of time that Ibrahimovic remembers himself saying it like that. Schmuck.

This makes the Wenger-to-PSG rumors that much more delicious to me. How would it go down between them after Ibrahimovic's juvenile quip, whether he actually issued it to Arsène's face back then or in the relative comfort of wherever he was when he shared the story with The fish 'n chips wrapper Sun back in November 2012? Would they kiss and make up? Would Arsène just bench him, or would he give Ibrahimovic one of his "funny Wenger looks" (Ibrahimovic's words, not mine)? Maybe he could just ship Ibrahimovic out on a loan to some back-water club to help the Swede continue his quest of winning championships in as many leagues as possible. I'm sure he'd do well in with Süper Lig's Akhisar Belediye.  He's won with Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, and, soon, PSG. Strange that he's never tried to ply his trade in jolly old England. Or is it? As talented and as breath-taking as his play can be at times, maybe he lacks certain qualities needed to thrive in the Prem. I don't know.

I do know this. PSG has been voraciously snapping up the best talent that money can buy and continue to be linked with players like Rooney, Ronaldo, and others. It's not for nothing that they'd be nosing around to see if Arsène is interested. He's still among the world's best football managers. Say what you will about our dip in fortunes recently. Criticize him all you want about transfers (but be careful until you have actual evidence to prove that players leaving and a lack of signings are Arsène's fault). What he's achieved in his time with Arsenal has been remarkable and glorious, which only makes the dry patch feel all the more inexorable. I see us returning to glory under him sooner than under any other available manager. Stay put, Arsène; the ingrates will come around eventually...