Why it’s not so bad
• His form bolted so long ago that the stable door was sold on eBay.
• He was clearly struggling at Arsenal
• Which you could tell by his workrate – he didn’t want to be here
• Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain are ahead of him on the left, which is the only place Wenger was going to play him.
• He wants to play in the Euros and needs games (bully for him)
• It might lead to a permanent transfer at a time when he’s only got just over a year left on his contract
• And he’s 30 – he won’t be getting better with age
Why it’s a bit odd
• The squad’s a bit, erm, shallow as it is
• The timing – right before the derby – is hardly going to make us jump through hoops and whistle Dixie with glee.
• Even if all he offers these days is an assist off the bench, that’s still an assist when an assist might otherwise not be forthcoming.
Overall though, if my my feelings on the timing of his departure are mixed, as a player they are not – his time was up. I wonder why it had to happen now but clearly, as much as he was desperate to go, the club must have also wanted him gone. Is this a sign of a new, hardened ruthlessness on Wenger’s behalf? I doubt it – not at such an odd time of the season. But it looks like it suits both parties just fine.
That half-season (and maybe more) after he signed, he was a revelation, with those four goals at Anfield the absolute high. The strike against Barcelona almost exactly a year ago wasn’t bad either, in terms of its significance, but the rot had already set in.
When he signed, he was the saviour at a time when we were desperate to make fourth and it looked like we might not [I’ve heard that one before – Ed. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V].
A bit like Reyes? Obviously, not physically. But both were wide men, signed for similar fees. Both looked unstoppable for a while, and both faded badly at Arsenal.
That’s the real shame. His was a real talent that faded – an Arsenal career ultimately unfulfilled.