Of course, we know better than to read too much into what we read in the press. But one can't help but react to some quotes from Edu that have been doing the rounds, and react in the opposite way to that which he intended.|
"I know there has been some stuff said about Freddie and that is really sad. We all need him here and we all want him to stay. He played a big part in what we achieved this year and, like all of us, he can play a big part in the future. I think I speak for all the players when I say that no-one wants this team to be broken up. Of course, that decision is really out of my hands. But we all have formed a close bond and it's not nice when someone has to break away from that bond."
The implication is that that really is a decision to be made here. While Freddie didn't have his best season for the club last year, he (like most of the squad) does have a special place in the hearts of Arsenal fans. And one only has to look at the likes of Pires and Bergkamp to know that a player can have a slightly less good season and then follow it with another superb one. So we're with Edu in hoping that Freddie stays, but a little concerned if Edu feels the need to say it.
If Freddie did leave, we'd need someone pretty special to replace him. Pennant may have done a decent job for Leeds last year but is he really ready for that step up? Perhaps the only man on the planet who could improve us in that position (with a work-rate to compare to Freddie's) is Beckham. But not only has he come out ond said that he definitely wants to stay in Madrid for the time being, but he seemes happier now playing in a more central role (having said that, Freddie's preferred role seems to be similar to Beckham's i.e "everywhere").
But my feeling now is that the Ljungberg talk will probably blow over. Wenger has said that he doesn't want to break the team up, and now the official site is carrying an interview with Freddie in which he talks about how pleased he is that Dennis is staying another year. "Dennis is a fantastic player, especially for me because he looks for the runs players make. He plays in between the strikers and the midfield and he's a fantastic passer. We're all really happy that he's going to stay another year. We are a team, we work really well together. The way we play, the way we want the ball to move, we need to know each other. Everyone wants to stay and keep on developing because there's a special way we play."
So the message from all quarters seems to be the same. Everyone wants to stay. And who can blame them?