Putin caused Gun­ners to pay RM80.5m for Ar­shavin

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY IAN HER­BERT

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

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