Transfer mayhem! Cedric linked with Turkish move

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Morning all from a very cold Dublin.

It’s currently -2 with a real feel of -7, which is right down there for this part of the world. My daughter, who moved to Canada in September and has experienced temperatures of -40 in the last week would probably laugh if she read this, but a) she won’t, and b) that’s her own fault for moving to Canada. That’s like setting up camp on the sun and complaining it’s too hot.

Remarkably, we have a bit of transfer news for you this morning. It’s not the good kind where someone comes in, but it’s the other good kind where someone leaves. Cedric Soares has been linked with a couple of Turkish clubs, Besiktas and Trabzonspor. Now, ordinarily you would take these stories, which have come first from the Turkish press, with a pinch of salt.

I would have to look this up properly, but I would say that down the years the hit-rate on transfer rumours involving Arsenal players and Turkish clubs, and Turkish players linked with Arsenal, have a hit rate of about 0.00000001%. And that’s being a bit generous. It is often – in football career terms only – the last refuge of the damned, and more often than not the damned never get there in the end. Nevertheless, Sami Mokbel (someone very much on the Arsenal beat) has reported that ‘talks are ongoing‘.

To be fair though, that is a little bit vague. Cedric is into the final 6 months of his contract, and it might be a case that his agent (our old friend Kia Joorbachian) is negotiating with clubs about a free transfer in the summer. Those are talks. The kind of talks we might want to hear about are the two clubs working out a deal for him to leave in January. Besiktas have just appointed former Portugal boss Fernando Santos as their new manager, and Cedric won most of his 34 international caps under him. So, that adds a little weight to the story.

Some might ask ‘Can we afford to let an experienced player go when we are a bit light defensively?’, and it’s a good question, but I would say ‘Yes, yes we can’. Cedric has not started a game in the Premier League since May 2022. He has not made a league appearance this season, and even last season when he went on loan to Fulham, he barely played there. With all due respect to him, at 32 he is a busted flush at this level. It is time to say ‘Thanks for the extraordinarily lucrative contract you got when signing on a free from a Southampton side who were quite happy to see you leave, but it’s time to say goodbye’.

Again, to be fair, it’s not his fault. Which 28 year old wouldn’t take the chance to go from Southampton to Arsenal with the offer of a four year deal – and a Bosman too for all that entails – on the table? For me, the Cedric deal is a relic of a not-too-distant past which saw decisions being made that benefitted others far more than the club. If he goes in January, we take around £100,000 a week off the wage bill. Maybe it means very little in terms of what we can do this month, but it’s still a hefty chunk, and the last vestiges of those frustrating recruitment decisions are gone.

The other thing I’d say is that there has been a lot of recent clamour about young players not getting chances, and while I think about this is more complicated than is often presented, perhaps Cedric leaving might open the door for someone like Reuell Walters. I can’t say if he’s going to be good enough for Arsenal, but if it came down to it, would you prefer to see him get some minutes to help us find out, or a player who we know for sure isn’t good enough for this team?

It is the natural cycle of things, a veteran departs, the pathway for a younger player becomes a little less blocked, and maybe from that opportunity something good will emerge. That’s best case scenario of course, but I’d prefer to see someone get a chance than stick with something we know doesn’t work. It might also mean a potential loan deal for a defender is more likely. I guess we’ll find out.

All this, of course, is incumbent on this rumour not being a lot of complete and utter bollocks, and as I said above, there’s a strong chance it might just be paper-talk at this moment in time. Still, let’s see what happens, there may be some Turkish delight for Cedric.

Till tomorrow.

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