Putin caused Gunners to pay RM80.5m for Arshavin
MANCHESTER CITY’S YAYA Toure’s representatives claim the player had no idea that manager Pep Guardiola was expecting an apology over comments his agent Dimitri Seluk has made – but the depth of acrimony between player and club suggests that he has played his last game for them.
Guardiola went on the attack against Seluk on Monday, accusing him of lacking the courage to speak to him face-to-face when he denigrated him for excluding the Ivorian from City’s Champions League squad. Guardiola said Seluk must apologise or it would be over between Toure and City.
City later indicated that a personal apology from Toure would be required, though after Seluk took to the TV networks to renew his attack on Guardiola, all hope of the player being restored seems gone.
City would now be wise to let the player leave on loan in January – paying a percentage his wages if necessary – simply to remove the unwelcome noise which Seluk has been polluting the club with for the past two years.
Guardiola’s comments on Seluk came after he had revealed that he would play no part in the EFL Cup tie against Swansea yesterday. Asked why, he made no secret of THE INFLUENCE of Russian president Vladimir Putin lay behind Arsenal paying £15m (RM80.5m) – twice what they had originally wanted – for Zenit St Petersburg’s Andrei Arshavin (pix) in one of the most convoluted deals the club has known, a new book which sheds light on the workings of the transfer system has revealed.
Zenit are Putin’s boyhood club and run by the president of the state-owned energy leviathan Gazprom, who answered directly to the president. It was his controlling influence which led to the Russians refusing to compromise on price, despite Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger’s belief that by controlling the negotiations he could secure a breakthrough that would satisfy Putin.
The extraordinary three-month struggle to secure Arshavin’s signature – revealed in ‘The Deal’, the new autobiography by agent Jon Smith – ultimately succeeded when Uzbek-born billionaire and 30 % Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov was asked to use his Russian connections to secure a breakthrough.
But Usmanov had to do so without any of the Arsenal hierarchy knowing, as the club believed that it should be a straight price negotiation with no attempt to pull strings.
Smith’s description of the deal – within the pages of a book which shines a light on a much discussed though little understood aspect of the football business – reveals the way in which Wenger likes to be deeply involved in the course of individual transfer.
“Arsene was involved in every step,” Smith states, in the book he has co-written with London Evening Standard journalist James Olley.
“Every conversation with Arsenal was based around how Arsene was feeling and things he thought they could do to bridge the his fury. Guardiola said: “It was so difficult for me to leave him out of the Champions League. So difficult. I know him and I know he’s a good guy.” It had also been difficult to omit 19-year-old Aleix Garcia, he said. “But the day after his agent spoke and in that moment Yaya is out unless Mr Dimitri Seluk comes back to the press or to his friends in the media – because he hasn’t the courage to call me, he goes to the media – and apologise to Manchester City first of all, then his teammates, and afterwards the trainer,” Guardiola added. “When that happens Yaya will be part of the group and he will have the chance to play. As a coach, I cannot accept that when his player doesn’t play he goes to the media and speaks. “It depends. I know how much Dimitri Seluk loves Yaya Toure. If he loves him, show me by apologising to Manchester City for what he did in the papers.” Guardiola accused Seluk of thinking he is more important than he is and said the situation would not have occurred in his day as a player at Barcelona under Johan Cruyff. “I cannot imagine in my day when a player’s agent would go to the media and speak against Johan Cruyff,” he added. “Maybe it’s the new era but I’m old generation, and an old generation agent has to concentrate on making his players his job and leave the coach to do his job. Today agents believe they are more than they are. If you have a problem, we can talk. But until he speaks, Yaya isn’t going to play.” Toure’s importance to City has allowed Russian Seluk to continually attack City, embarrassing both the club and the player. He bizarrely criticised City for not giving Toure a birthday cake two years ago. But Guardiola has excluded Toure from his side and found there is no detrimental effect. The balance of power has shifted. – The Independent gap.”
Wenger suggested handing Zenit a game at the following summer’s pre-season Emirates Cup competition, which could have been worth half a million pounds to the side in revenue.
“Arsene was totally in control on that environment.”
At the time of the complex negotiations, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis was only a few weeks into his job, having been persuaded not to take the job of chief executive at Manchester City – a job which went to Garry Cook.
Gazidis was “learning the ropes”, Smith writes. So, when Smith had established contact with Arshavin in the most random fashion – Smith’s brother played football with the player’s agent Dennis Lachter – it was he and Arsenal’s traditionalist managing director Ken Friar who began discussing a player Wenger badly wanted.
Friar and Arsenal were unwilling to countenance any back channel contact with the player. When Smith made to reveal to Friar what the striker was thinking, he would say: “I don’t want to know!”
But Smith reveals that his is an often imperative part of the transfer business, much as head-hunters approach targets before hiring them.
“Technically, we might not have been given permission [to speak to Arshavin],” Smith writes.
“But that’s my job for a club and player at any given time. I am the bridge that the club can’t cross. In most cases of employment exchanges in any walk of life, the potential employee and employer have had some sort of prior connection.
“There has to be a person ready to break the conventional ethical boundary of not pinching other people’s staff and actually make contact. So we do sometimes facilitate that in football.” – The Independent