Sky are reporting that Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy are both on the verge of joining Manchester City. Arsenal stand to make some serious money out of these two deals, especially as both players have only one year left on their contracts. It is reported that Clichy will go for around £7m (not the £15m Sky initially quoted) and Nasri for £20m. If Arsenal can make £20m out of a transfer for a player with only one year left then that is good business in my mind. It also sets the market-rate for any Barcelona deal for Cesc Fabregas - if Arsenal can get £20m for Nasri and his one year contract, then I suggest that the bidding for Fabregas should start at £50m plus (Cesc has four years to go).
Sky claim that City are going to pay Nasri £180,000 per week. There is simply no way that Arsenal could (or ever should) try to compete with that sort of money. It leaves me in no doubt that Nasri, and his advisers, have had their end of this deal tied up since Christmas. That is the reason why he has not had any meaningful contract talks with Arsenal. Given the way in which Arsenal got Nasri from Marseilles is should come as no surprise. If you live by the sword then you will probably get cut in half by one in the future. We knew before he came to Arsenal what sort of a person Nasri was so it comes an no shock to me that he will go where there is big money - in many ways you can not blame him.
Nasri had a fantastic first half to last season, and should probably have got the PFA award for player of the year. However, those first four months of the season represent the only consistently good form of his Arsenal career. I would not exactly mourn his departure as he has not produced often enough. Lest we forget the chance he missed at Bolton when faced with the opportunity to keep us in the Title race - rather than a calm slide-rule finish we got a ball smashed straight at the goalkeeper. In such moments do we see the true character of a player, and with Nasri I can take it or leave it. That is not to say, however, that we don't need a quality replacement - we most certainly do, and that does not come cheap. There is talk of players making up part of the deal - we better pray that it's more James Milner and Shay Given than Shaun Wright-Phillips and Roque Santa-Cruz!
Gael Clichy, as I said on here a while back, has never fulfilled his potential. In recent years he has stood still (literally at times, to Arsenal's expensive cost) and has failed to become the replacement for Cashley that we had hoped for. It's a shame but, again, £7m wouldn't be bad business in the circumstances. Much like Kolo Toure, who went to City a couple of years ago, I wish Gael all the best. Whatever his shortcomings at times Clichy always gave his best in an Arsenal shirt and that should not be forgotten. He is the last of the Invincibles still at Arsenal, and his departure would represent the end of the final link with Wenger's greatest team. Again, a replacement is needed. I would like to see Leighton Baines forming part of a new look Arsenal back-four, and he is certainly not out of Arsenal's price-range.
These transfers are going to force Wenger's hand in the transfer market. I have never subscribed to the idea that Arsenal need more English players. However, I am certainly in favour of bringing in players from the Premier League. In the circumstances we find ourselves Arsenal have to hit the ground running in August. We can not afford for any player to need a "settling-in" period. If Arsene goes down his usual route that is exactly what we will get (and if we do sign Gervinho he will be off to the African Cup of Nations just as he's ready for the Premier League) so a change of tack and some recognised Premier League players would not go amiss. With pre-season training starting next week, and players on their way out (though seemingly not the likes of Denilson, Rosicky, Diaby, Bendtner, Eboue or Squillaci...yet) Arsenal must do something big, and do it quickly - the fans are restless, and we expect some return for our season ticket money.