7 years and 326 appearances. Yesterday, Kolo Toure finally left for sunny Manchester in a reported £16 Million pound deal, leaving opinions amongst Gooners divided.
On the one hand, some gooners believe this to be another in a long list of first team players sold on at the expense of our squad’s strength in depth. On the other, there are those who believe £16 Million for a player with his best years arguably behind him is a fantastic piece of business. So what can we make of it?
First and foremost, Toure has undoubtedly been a fantastic servant to the club over the years and has enjoyed the privilege of becoming a firm fan’s favourite at Highbury and Ashburton alike. Perhaps this feeds the argument that we are losing a valued member of the first team and to make matters worse, to a rival which many are touting as potential heir’s to our recently apparent 4th place throne.
However, Wenger is not one to make rash and uncalculated decisions. I find it difficult to believe that there are gooners out there who are of the opinion that £16 Million was waved in front of our noses, Toure pushed for a move and Wenger was forced to sell in a matter of 48 hours. The fact is, this transfer – along with Adebayor’s – had been a while in the making. Things first turned sour in January when Toure handed in a transfer request apparently rejected by the board. Couple this with the fact that Toure was by some accounts aligned with Adebayor in a clique which often caused friction in the dressing room and perhaps it serves as no coincidence that both players have moved on. Further still, taking into account the almost immeasurable inconvenience which the ACON causes an honours challenging squad and perhaps it serves as no surprise that Eboue may soon be following suit.
The bottom line is, this transfer was no over night revelation.
In my opinion (and of course there will many who disagree) this transfer suits all parties involved. From an Arsenal perspective, we have received £16 Million pounds for a player who even the loyalist of Toure fans will have to concede has often looked a shadow of his former self. To heighten the value of this deal to the club, the £16 Million has been received in the middle of an apparent global economic crisis. Whether Wenger chooses to spend this money or not remains to be seen but either way, the deal can be seen as advantageous – either we use the money to reinforce, or much like Utd, we choose to sit on the money until true market value returns and we can go back to buying players like Hangeland for £5 million or the likes of Santa Cruz for less than £10 million.
From a Man City perspective, they have purchased themselves a hard working, dedicated and honest professional. I don’t care what disgruntled gooners say, Toure deserves respect for being a true sporting gentleman. Paint him as the money seeking villain if it helps to remedy your pain, but deep down I don’t think many will begrudge Toure upon his return. He has given us 7 years of blood, sweat and tears mixed with the occasional exhilarating last ditch tackle after recovering from a near impossible situation as well as the odd scintillating 30 yard hammer strike. He is a thoroughly likeable character and City have cleverly added another marketable name to their ever expanding brand.
For Toure himself, he has escaped a dressing room within which he has personal problems, namely with Gallas and more importantly, he has joined an exciting (if perhaps slightly crude and vulgar) revolution at City. We can’t pretend they won’t be challenging for honours, because the fact of the matter is, they will. OK, so he will miss out on champions league football, perhaps even for a couple of seasons, but he is still part of an ambitious and exciting set up.
But finally and perhaps most importantly, let us consider the sheer footballing facts. Was Toure ever a natural defender in the true positional sense? We all know he joined as an attacking midfielder and was transformed commendably into an effective centre back – but will he really be missed for footballing reasons? Perhaps the key to Toure’s success was always his pace and physical ability to recover from sticky situations that his lack of positional awareness would inevitably land him in. Need I point out the obvious? Since his run in with malaria, Toure’s pace and physicality has been going one way only and his increasing age will certainly play no part in turning this around. Vermaelan has joined this summer as is a natural defender – a player who provided he acclimatises to the premier league successfully, will not get ‘caught out’ as much as Toure. I personally lost count of the amount of times Toure misjudged the flight of a ball, left a ball to bounce or waved his hand frantically at the linesman last season in a desperate attempt to rescue himself from a borderline awful defensive position. Which leads me to my next point; for those who stay awake late at night worrying about City’s charge for our fourth spot…let us not forget that in Toure, Richards and (more than likely) Lescott, City have 3 defenders who are arguably championed more for their attacking prowess from a defensive position than their true defensive qualities. Toure and Lescott as a partnership will at times get caught out, make no doubt about it. Neither is a Campbell/Terry/Vidic calibre of defender and both arguably require a player in the ilk of one of the former alongside them to truly succeed.
So let’s see the transfer for how it really is. Yes we have lost a loveable character who has applied himself to our cause in a truly commendable and professional sense, winning 2 FA cups and a League medal along the way. But when we retract the emotional ties and look at it in a truly objective sense, we have just had £16 Million wired into the bank of Arsenal for a player whose effectiveness has long been dwindling and who quite simply has looked erratic at best during the season just passed. £16 Million…I’ll let those numbers sink in! So let’s pass on our many thanks, wish him all the best in his personal life and show him the respect he deserves. Yes, the invincible’s have now all moved on, but in reality that feat was never destined to be recaptured – now is the time for us to move on as well.
By goonerdane From the goonersworld forum