So that’s it then. The end of an era.
We all knew he’d probably go at some stage, and that time has now come.
I know of no Arsenal fan who doesn’t wish him well – even if some of us wish he hadn’t gone. For nine years, he has driven our team on, given his all and proved himself to be one of the top midfield generals in the world. Aggressive, technically adept, athletic and fearless, he’s the epitome of the perfect holding midfielder, and when Wenger describes him as “one of the greatest [players] in the club’s history”, he’s spot on. You don’t get many Patrick Vieiras to the pound, and we’ll miss him – a lot.
I hope his move is a success – what more can you say?
Obviously, his departure leaves a chunky hole in our squad, and renders us temporarily captainless. Finding an adequate replacement has got to be one of Wenger’s toughest jobs in his nine years here. Flamini and Fabregas are superb young players, but only time will tell whether they are anything like as good as Vieira. Finding a direct replacement with as much experience is, let’s be honest, not going to happen.
So Wenger needs to ship in a reinforcement, but God knows who that could be.
Did we get a fair price for him? I think so. We’ve made a Â£10m profit on him, for starters, and for a player his age, Â£13.75m has got to be good business. Talk of getting Â£20m is just fanciful, if you ask me.
So the Vieira era – three titles, four FA Cups, a UEFA Cup Final – sails off into the sunset, and a new one will begin.
Sad times, but exciting ones.