Gilberto signs for Panathanaikos

The transfer season is finally getting moving. Yesterday we heard that Hleb had left to sign for Barcelona and now Gilberto has signed for Panathanaikos. This is madness compared to the dull days of June!

The transfer fee is around £1 million, which is a nice enough sum for a player of his age. Apparently he has now become the highest paid player in Greece too.

“I’m hungry to win more titles, I came to Greece because I have big ambitions, it’s very important for me to be able to continue to give my best. I couldn’t say no to the offer.

“I’m sure we will qualify through to the group stages of the Champions League. I’m excited about being a Panathinaikos player.”

‘Bert played for us for six seasons after we signed him from Atletico Mineiro of Brazil in 2002. He has been a great servant of the club, and unlike certain induviduals he has acted like a model professional even when left out of the side this season.

During those six seasons he became a regular in the first team and plaed 244 games, with 24 goals scored. He won the Premier League in 2003/04 and the FA Cup twice in 2003 and 2005.

For those who think our midfield looks a bit threadbare after the depature of Flamini, Hleb and Gilberto just remember that we have Vela and Nasri who can play in midfield and Wenger is very likely to sign a player to bolster central midfield seeing as we have lost Flamini and ‘Bert.

So a bit of extra cash and an incentive to but a new player for Mister Wenger, and a new start for good old Gilberto.

Hleb has gone, that pays for Nasri and makes some room

Arsenal and Barcelona have confirmed that Alex Hleb has signed for Barca for a fee around £11.8 million. This covers Nasri’s fee so we are looking good financially this summer. Just need one or two more signings and we should be confident about next season.

Hleb had a medical for Barca at about 7 pm last night and the transfer was then announced.

Wenger was gracious and confident about Alex’s departure:

“We must firstly thank Alex for his contribution towards Arsenal Football Club during his time with us. Alex played a significant role in the three seasons he was with the Club. 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.”

A positive comment, he sounds calm enough about Hleb leaving. I said before that lack of goals from midfield was a major problem for us last season, and although Hleb is good, he isn’t irreplaceable, and he didn’t contribute goals.

We now have Nasri to take his position and we will probably sign another midfielder if Gilberto leaves. The other good thing is that now Barca and Milan (Ronaldinho) have spent their cash we don’t need to worry so much about losing Adebayor, who although unpopular, is a key goalscorer for us.

Gilberto is on the way out, is Barry on the way in?

So reports coming out of Greece say that Gilberto is in Athens for a medical with Panathanaikos. Henk Ten Cate, the new manager wants Bert to bolster his midfield.

Meanwhile Martin O’Neill has been quoted in The Sun confirming Arsenal’s interest in Gareth Barry.

“Myself and Steve Walford both know Arsene Wenger’s assistant Pat Rice. He phoned Steve to ask how the Liverpool thing had gone and said that they might show an interest. At the end of the conversation Arsenal said ‘that’s fine’ and that they’ll let us know. That is exactly what happened.”

So there;s nothing concrete, but it would seem that we are interested. This does make sense, especially as Gilberto may leave.

We looked stretched at times last season and although I have said before that we could cope with our problems by bringing through players like Diaby, it would ease the strain on the squad if we signed a new defensive midfielder

Last season one of our failing points was the lack of depth in the squad and this needs to be addressed if we are to mount another strong challenge for the title and improve on last seasons performance!

What do you think?

Gilberto leaving, Diaby in pole position, or a new signing?

Gilberto may be leaving Arsenal for Panathanikos this summer. There has been a lot of speculation over Bert, mainly due to the fact that the whole season he was sidelined in favour of Mathieu Flamini.

Gilberto decided to stay and didn’t kick up a fuss, but acted professionally. He may be offered a new deal by Wenger, but it seems likely that he is going to leave for a fresh start.
Gilberto is reported to have said:

“I am very happy to come to Greece…Panathinaikos is a big club and if an agreement is reached with Arsenal I will be very happy to join you”

I think Gilberto has been a fantastic player for Arsenal, he’s had some ups and downs, but he has been very consistent, and professional in his conduct.

I respect him and if he does leave then good luck to him.

The question is who will fill the hole. The main candidates already at the club are Diaby and Song. Diaby has more experience and is more versatile, although Wenger has already hinted that Song will be used as a centre back next season.

There is always the option of bringing a player in, names such as Yaya Toure of Barcelona have been bartered around, but it seems more likely to me that Wenger will bring one of the younger players up. His transfer dealings may have peaked with the capture of Nasri.

That won’t be popular, but it might pay off.

Who will partner Fabregas next season – Gilberto, Diaby, Ramsey?

The departure of Flamini to AC Milan eariler this summer was undoubtedly a blow for Arsenal FC. Last season he went from being a squad player, to one of the most influential figures in midfield and forged an excellent partnership with Fabregas.

Now he has left the void has to be filled. Gooners were probably hoping Arsenal would sign a new defensive midfielder to partner Cesc, but that’s not likely now, Wenger seems to be focusing more on the wings, which were a problem area for us last season.

In the centre of we have the option of Gilberto or Diaby, and also Song, Denilson or even Ramsey. The best defensive candidates are Gilberto and Diaby.

Gilberto – already having played the role for a few years prior to Flamini’s emergence has the experience and quality. The problem is he looked poor last season when he did get a few chances to impress, and his passing is always up to scratch. He plays a diffferent game to that of Flamini, tending to hold back, whereas Flamini is always in the oppositions faces.

Gilberto would be a sensible choice to start with as a defensive midfielder, but I don’t think he is good enough anymore to warrant a staring place.

Abou Diaby is my choice. He is a strong and fast player, with a lot of height. We used him on the wing last season, and he got a few goals. The main problem with him is that he is inconsistent – and can be lazy.

Diaby has great qualities for the role though, he is defensive, but very good going forward – his pace, passing and ball control mean that he would be a great partner for Cesc, and he is a long term option.

If he can up his work rate and consistency then he could have a chance, I would love to see Wenger try him out next season.

There are other contenders – Denilson, I think isn’t ready for that sort of role. Ramsey – more suited to the wings, and Song – Wenger thinks that he will better used in defence.

So we start the season with a first team spot up for grabs, we just need to see who takes it.

What do you think – is there anyone I’ve missed – or do you think we should be signing a new central midfielder?

UPDATE 11 JULY 2008: Is Gilberto going? Rumours are he is going to Panathaniakos…

Gilberto warns players about leaving + Song gets a new deal.

Gilberto, ever the model professional last season, has warned the Arsenal players against leaving the club. This is something I have always empasized, why leave when our current team has such great potential, the players are likely to regret it.

He had this to say about players leaving:

“I don’t know what they have in mind but they should stay a little bit longer, maybe they want to try something different, but they could develop themselves and achieve big things at Arsenal.

“The team is young and getting better. It could be really special if the players all stay. What is important is to keep everyone at the club, for them to stay long-term at the club.

“I haven’t spoken to them since the end of the season but in my opinion Arsenal is still a great, great club and fantastic for any player in the world.

It would be a good thing for them to stay at the club because they know each other very well. They have a better situation than last season and could use the feeling of disappointment as an inspiration for next season.

Well said Bert, you know what you are talking about. A lot of people are suprised with how well Gilberto has taken his demotion to the bench during the last season, and now how he speaks about the club with such passion. This is real devotion if you ask me, and I think Gilberto really wants to make something good at Arsenal, thats why he’s saying this.

Gilberto goes on to make a very rational point about contracts, this is so relevant in the current climate, where everyone seems to be demanding that Arsenal pay players whatever they want.

When you win things you achieve more than anybody else. It follows that you get better contracts and more money,”

“Most of the players who leave miss the club for lots of reasons. The lifestyle at Arsenal is fantastic. You get so well looked after.”

Basically he is saying, you don’t know how good you have it, so stay and make something good of your career, you don’t want to end up like Anelka, who says he regrets leaving Arsenal a lot… 

Looking forward to next season Gilberto wants to stay and help win something with us:

“Next season will be very important for the club and the players. They must win something to keep the ambition of everybody and to maintain the hope of every player.

“If we don’t win anything next year it will be difficult to keep everybody happy. If you don’t see any possibility of winning the title they will change their minds.

“I do want to stay. It depends when I come back if Arsene wants me to stay. I still have one year left on my contract. I’m happy to stay at the club. I will wait until I return to London and pre-season training on 21 July and then I will sit down and talk about it.”

In other contract news, Alex Song has signed a new long term deal with Arsenal, which will prompt people to believe he has a chance at becoming our next defensive midfielder, or a long term option at centre back.

End of season. Highlights: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1. Walcott!

So a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light saw us hit 83 points, after a 24th minute goal from Theo, from great pass by Gilberto! Randall came on at the end as did Traore and they did well.

Highlights here.

We had a pretty young team out, and we should see more of these guys next season:

Fabianski

Song Senderos Djourou Clichy

Eboue (Randall 81) Denilson Silva Walcott

Adebayor Bendtner (Traore 81)

Wenger said:

“My message to Alex Ferguson is just congratulations for the achievement and get ready for the fight next year,”

“When I look back on the season I feel disappointment but to earn 83 points with such a young side gives you a lot of hope and that’s a respectable total because I’ve won titles with less. They made a big improvement when you consider last season when we earned 68 points.”

“There was a conjunction of bad luck and it was the first time this young team had to deal with big pressure so a combination of the two cost us the title,”

“Quality-wise we have been remarkable all season but we lost a 100 metres by a fraction of a second. We were on the same line but someone pushed their chest out in front of ours just at the end but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make a great 100 metres.”

We have made a huge improvement this year and I am sure we will be challenging for the title next season.

I couldn’t watch the game, I saw Wigan – Man Utd, which was boring as hell, and Man Utd ended up lifting the title, after they won 2-0 and Chelsea drew 1-1 with Bolton.

I think we deserved to win the title this year, but if not us then Man U deserve to win it more than Chelsea. But really I hate them both.

Some crazy results yesterday, Middlesbrough 8-1 Man City! Reading and Birmingham both scored 4 goals in their games, but still went down after Fulham won 1-0 at Portsmouth.

Anyway, another Premiership season comes to a close, and we have a big summer coming up. If Wenger gets the right people in and youngsters like Theo Walcott come through and play to their full potential then next season will be fantastic.

If players leave and we don’t replace then we will be in trouble.

Anyway, thanks Arsenal for a great season, we have little to show for it, but we all can remember. It has to be one of the closest seasons in the history of the Premier League, and it was pretty exciting.

It’s All About Hleb

According to the Telegraph he was caught on camera ‘slapping’ Reading’s Graeme Murty in the second half. It seems to be bery little in it, but he could get a 3 match ban. The FA are going to review the video evidence.

If he is banned he will miss the last 3 games, and we will lose a key player who could help us get to second place.

After the ‘ice-cream’ story it turns out he can leave the club under the ‘webster clause’ this summer. When a player is under 28 it allows him to buy out his contract after 3 years, and this applies to Hleb, whose contact was for 5 years, signed in 2005. It is very possible that he could go to Milan!

Wenger is pretty worried about it, and certainly needs to try and keep this squad together if he wants to push for honours. He has warned Alex that moving clubs doesn’t always bring success!

“I believe Alex will stay but you cannot stop the rumours when players are in this type of situation,”

“But I want Hleb to stay like everybody else.”You can go to Real Madrid and Barcelona, but you have no more guarantees to win trophies. And from this season we should get the belief we can win trophies and come back to win the title.”

Ade is linked with AC, and of course Flamini still hasn’t signed. I don’t expect many key players to leave. Realistically I hope only Lehmann and maybe Gilberto will go. Gilberto says he needs to talk to the Boss about his future. Click here.

Gilberto has been a true professional this season, even thoiugh he lost his place he has kept going with little fuss, and the veteran scored on Saturday, a reward for his hard work in the last 2 games. I don’t think he will stay, but he is good cover if he does.

SkySports have picked up on the Theo interview in the Reading Programme. Theo has said that he will miss his target for this season in terms of games and goals:

“At the start of this season I wanted to make 20 to 25 starts and score five goals,”

“At the moment I’m on 17 starts and five goals, so it looks like I will fall short of that.”

On the subject of Theo, the Boss says here that the Reading match was his ‘most complete game’ yet, and his physical side of the game has improved:

“Theo is not a monster, but he has great body power. When he starts on the first five yards, it is like you throw him away. You do not see him, he is gone. That is more important than just more power. But the way we play, we can take advantage of his qualities.

“Before he was always a bit out of the physical contact side of the game, now he looks for it. I told him he had to be more aggressive and determined. He is that now.
“I feel next season began on Saturday for him. I don’t know yet if I will start with him for the rest of the season, but there is a good chance yes.

“It is down to him now, how much he wants it. But I hope he continues to produce this type of performance and on his account are 10 or 15 goals, because that is what you should aim for.”

Gallas has also urged all our players to stay at the club, to challenge for honours next season:

“For next season we want all the players to stay here,”

“It would be good if we can keep this group together because we know each other very well and we know what we can do.

“We came very close to winning something this year, but you get nothing for being close.

“We want to get second place and to finish the season strongly, by winning every game.”

Gallas is spot on here. If players like Flamini and Hleb leave we will struggle to replace their quality. It is so vital that the squad sticks together, because we really are good enough to be a very successful team.

We should try to finish second this year, and aim to start srtongly next season, with more maturity and experience from this campaign!

Manchester United Vs. Arsenal, Line Ups. It’s Make Or Break Time

Morning all,

Looks like we’ve got:

UPDATE:

Lehmann

Toure Gallas Song Clichy

Eboue Fabregas Gilberto Hleb

Adebayor Van Persie

Lehmann has come in for Almunia and Song replaces Senderos. It is his first start for a long time, and I hope he can replicate some of those excellent performances he put in for Cameroon in January. Eboue again sarts ahead of Walcott, why not put Toure and Gallas in the centre and Eboue at right back, it seems to make more sense to me, then we would have our stringest possible lineup in my opinion. Arsene knows? Pretty standard line up, I think this is quite strong, the only problem is Flamini’s injury. Gilberto I hope can nullify the threat from United’s Midfield, especially Ronaldo when he cuts in from the wing.

Wenger knows that the whole season will now be probably defined by the result at Old Trafford today. Click here.

“It will be the greatest achievement of my career to win the Premier League now because we are swimming against the stream at the moment,” said Wenger.

“For us the game on Sunday is the game of the season. If we do not win this game we have no chance.

“We will fight until the last second of the championship.”

Fighting talk from Wenger and it’s all true. Exactly what yopu want to hear at this stage and I hope he can inspire the players today!

He comments here on the refereeing recently:

“In 11 years [at Arsenal] it’s the worst I’ve seen,” he said. “It is in every game. It is difficult to understand. It damages the confidence of the team and then you become more vulnerable, but it is like that.

It is true that the decisions that we have had go against us have hit the team hard, but we can only fight back, we can’t blame refereeing decisions for our loss of form, and I don’t think Wenger is, but they haven’t helped us.

He knew about the risk with his youth policy he tells Sky Sports.

Theo Walcott has garnered a bit of positive attention after his run against Liverpool, attention which is well deserved.

Cesc says a draw today would be as bad as a loss. That is true and I think we are going out for the win as always.

RVP agrees, saying that we aren’t going to change our style of play today.

So make or break time today. I m pretty cautious about the match, but I know we can achieve if we play right on the day.

Arsene’s Anger! Injuries & Transfers

So lets get it started:

Robin Van Persie has returned to full training, and will make the team on Saturday, not sure whether he will start. After 6 weeks out with a ligament injury it will be nice to have him back. Click here for more.

In all probability Flamini is going to miss the Wigan game through injury (not very sure what is going on here though!), ArsenalPies has an article here, Diaby is also injured. This leaves us without Flamini or Fabregas, never fear, we still have Hleb, Gilberto, Diarra, Denilson, and Song.. I’m sure Gilberto and Diarra will be salivating at Flamini’s misfortune, while Diaby curses in front of the telly at his bad luck.

Arsene has had a moan about the Ivory Coast’s “stubbornness” in calling up players for international tournaments. Toure and Eboue will both be called up over the winter for the African Cup of Nations. In 2006 both Toure and Eboue had to be pulled out of the FA Cup tie against Cardiff because they were called up for the maximum period, 15 days before their match! Just to go and sit in a hotel room! Wenger is really hacked off! Read here at the Beeb..

“They are so stubborn that there is no point in even speaking to them.” Arsene Wenger on the Ivory Coast FA..

Transfer rumours..

More sources are backing up the story that we are monitoring the Modric situation, with an eye to sign him, Chelsea are also moving in for a possible £30mill bid according to SkySports. The Telegraph says here he wants to move maybe this winter.

Apprently we are interseted in signing Martin Caceres, according to himself, as well as Juve and Real… The 19-yr old Uruguayan is a promising defender playing for Villareal (on loan at Recreativo). He has been compared to Montero in the Telegraph, click here. Seems a bit of speculation here.

Arsene has said he will not buy anyone unless they are exceptionally good, i.e. no buying for buying’s sake ! But will strengthen one area. Firstly on Caceres this is a rumour and I’m skeptical about it. Caceres would be a good signing for defence which isn’t so well covered especially as Toure and Eboue are both off to the African Cup of Nations this winter.

Luka Modric is seen as a great talent and obviously really wants to come to the Premiership, but we rarely sign players we are linked with in this way and I can see Chelsea snapping him up quite easily, only to assign him to the reserves.

Also on Agbonlahor, he has come out to say that, yes, the rumours about his move to Arsenal were pure speculation.

UPDATE: Seeing as the Mputu post is proving so popular I thought I’d do a bit more coverage on the guy.
Tresor Mputu, 21 years old, Congo striker with 3 goals in 12 caps for his country.

He has played for TP Mazembe since 2004, a prolific goalscorer. See one on YouTube click here check out the goalkeeper’s celebration.

He Scored twice during the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. He started the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations well, scoring a goal against Togo, but he was sent off against Angola and was suspended for the rest of the tournament.<

His manager says he is the best young African striker.

He's currently on a 10 day trial at Arsenal, his agent says the transfer is 70% done.

Walcott on wanting to bring his Under-21 form back to Arsenal here.

Also Jol has rejected an offer from Birmingham City for him..

Plus Win a copy of The Arsenal Miscellany signed by Frank McLintock! on Arsenal-Mania.

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