Two big rumours refuse to go away.|
Tomas Rosicky's agent claims that he has had talks with Arsenal. Well, actually all I've seen so far is, "I am in touch with Arsenal officials", which means nothing.
The Czech international midfielder is at Borussia Dortmund, but looking to go elsewhere. He is said to have been close to a move to Atletico_Madrid, but after being on-off-on-off for a while they look to have settled on "off". Rosicky himself has expressed a preference for the Premiership, and for Arsenal in particular, but it's not clear to me whether or not this "preference" has emerged following the collapse of the Spain move.
The 25 year old playmaker started his career at Sparta Prague, where he won a Czech championship,
before moving to Dortmund in 2001 and going on to win the Bundesliga and reach the UEFA cup final, both in 2002.
It all sounds like a classic case of an agent trying to whip up interest.
But then there's the big one...
Towards the end of last week there was frenzied speculation about Arsenal and Southampton's teenage striking sensation Theo Walcott. Every big club in the country (and elsewhere) is interested in the youngster, but he has been said to have a preference for Arsenal. The speculation followed a visit to the Arsenal by the Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe and director of football Clive Woodward. Lowe rubbished the speculation, claiming that it was just to look at our training facilities, but Arsene Wenger's admission that he's interested in the player helped fuel the rumour (it's best not to read too much into that. As we know, Wenger has a habit of answering direct questions with honest answers. Given that, how else is he going to reply to "would you like to sign Theo Walcott?").
Some sources even claimed that the deal was as good as done, and due to be concluded today. Well, the news so far today is that
the Saints are "reported to" have rejected a £12m bid from Arsenal. This will presumably alert Chelsea, and a bidding war may ensue. One has to hope for the kid's sake that this doesn't happen. He has awesome potential but he's only 16 and could probably do without the pressure of an astronomical fee.
One also has to hope that he sees sense and decides against Chelsea, where they can afford to pay that sort of money and then not actually use a player.
Saints boss Craig Burley has made it clear that he thinks Walcott would be best advised to stay put for the time being, and to be frank he could well be right. But Arsene Wenger has said that if Southampton insisted on us loaning him back to St Mary's for the rest of the season it would "not be a deal-breaker".
I've also read that, according to FIFA rules, Walcott can't leave Southampton until after his 17th birthday in March. He currently has a pre-contract agreement with them, and when he's 17 he can sign his first professional deal with the club. Having said that, it's certainly also true that money talks, and there will be a way of arranging things if Southampton and Arsenal (or another club) decide it's right.
There's no denying that a fee of over £12m for a 16 year old would be a gamble. But less so for Walcott than probably for any other player of that age. He looks and plays like he could be the next Thierry Henry, the only question is whether he can keep it going. Given Wenger's extraordinary transfer market prowess, and the money he makes with his bargain buys (just think about what Cesc Fabregas represents in terms of capital gain), Arseweb reckons we can afford to gamble a bit of it now and then.