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All Things Footie | Friday, July 15 | Jordan

This is the end...

So Patrick Vieira is finally leaving Arsenal, after much constenation about his future over the last couple of years, it’s no surprise to see the captain leaving, and I don’t think Arsenal fans have anything at all to worry about. I’m not even convinced they need to spend money on a direct replacement.

Let me explain my thinking.

For a start, when has Wenger made a mistake selling/releasing a player? Did we see the best of Marc Overmars or Emmanuel Petit at Barcelona? I made my feelings about important midfielders clear last week, and I maintain that it would have been far worse for Arsenal to lose Gilberto at this stage than Vieira, particularly when Arsenal have a ready made replacement for Vieira in Cesc Fabregas, only he’s younger, more energetic and in this author’s opinion, has far more technical dexterity.

I’m a big believer in sporting pschology, and there’s nothing more useless than an uninterested or unmotivated player, and Vieira’s looked that for more than a season now. The hunger had gone, and he was never the most inspirational player in the first place. He may regain a bit of that hunger at Juve and go on to have more good years, but I somewhat doubt it. There’s no doubting he’s a phenomenal player, along with Roy Keane one of the finest dynamic midfielders of his generation, but like Keane, age and injuries have caught up with Vieira, and he’s not been himself physically as well as mentally over the last few years.

Arsenal are better off now, with a midfield that’s hungry for success and desperate to prove themselves. With characters like Thierry Henry around, Vieira’s presence will not be desperately missed in the dressing room—not to mention the outgoing personalities of many of the younger players like Kolo Touré. Fabergas and Flamini have had a perfect period of time to settle in and get used to first team action (not that the former has ever looked out of his depth) and it’s the right time to start replacing the likes of Vieira.

Yes, the likes of Vieira. More players will leave Arsenal in the next year, ‘big’ players. Sol Campbell, Robert Pires, maybe even Ashley Cole; and Wenger will not struggle to replace any of them. If there’s one thing that separates Wenger from 99% of football managers, it’s his long term view and vision, and he’s been preparing for this moment for the last three or four years. Maybe even longer. When Petit and Overmars left, he had Edu and Pires waiting, when the defence started ageing, he had Lauren, Campbell, et al in line. Even when ill-prepared for change, as he was when Anelka announced his departure, he managed to find Thierry Henry.

The fact is that whether Arsenal go and buy a multi-million pound replacement or not, Wenger has a plan and you can bet that it will only make Arsenal stronger. Francesc Fabregas is a far better player than most people realise, and most people realise he’s pretty prodigious. There’s every chance we could be talking about Fabregas in ten years in the way we talk about Zidane now, and I’m not exaggerating here. It’s not possible to exaggerate the potential of someone as good as Fabregas, and disregarding everything else I’ve said, he alone makes Vieira’s departure a positive move for the club, rather than a step backwards, sideways or in the wrong direction.

(22) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

# Posted by Blogger Wayne at 10:43 PM
Hey Footie, interesting and insightful.
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7:12 PM
Well said and I agree. The Hleb Fabregas combination will be a winner. Add the Beast and we're in business!
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3:00 PM
3 years in a row the captain of your club mulls over leaving, of course you will be better off without him. Thing is after a rather low key season last year don't you wish you got that £25 million from Madrid 12 months ago?

Wenger is certainly no mug, looking back in hindsight he got rid of overmars and petit at the right time. Ferguson did the same at United replacing Ince Kanchelskis with the likes of Scholes and Beckham. Fabregas, i'm sure will have just as big an impact with Arsenal
# Posted by Anonymous andyrupe at 11:15 PM
Its all lovely stuf jord but i think it'll be accademic come the shake up. You'll be feeling blue again come the start of next summer.
# Posted by Anonymous Angus at 2:09 AM
Well said Jordan, I've just written a letter to Peter on Football365 saying the very same, just not as well thought out or presented as yours. A player who obviously went through the motions last year is no good to anyone, especially when they are your captain and other players look to their example.

And for Andy Rupe, well Chelski still have a lot of catching up to do - one title every 50 years and 200 million quid is not exactly that special is it?
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