So Lorik Cana – get the T-shirt from ALS – has brains as well as brawn. Perhaps that is one of the attractions for a certain refined Alcasien, now reported – to the dismay of all Sunderland fans, not just those who fancy Cana (for his mind, doubtless) – to have him back in his sights …
The least surprising news of the week, as far as English football was concerned, was that Arsène Wenger remains interested in Lorik Cana.
It would be wonderful if Lorik were to say: “Desolé, mon brave, mais je préfère rester à Sunderland.” Or even: “You had your chance when I was a kid and messed it up , chum, so buzz off”.
But never underestimate the pull that Arsenal has over players who have grown up in a Francophone environment, as Lorik did after his family’s flight from Kosovo. Long after Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, French people I know still talk of the Gunners as the nearest they have to a Premier side.
So that was the least surprising news in football. The most surprising, for those who assume all players to be thick as plants, was the interview with our captain in the Legion of Light.
My copy has just hit the doormat. Rob Mason, the editor, is to be congratulated on having produced a very strong edition.
The guest interviewer, George Caulkin of The Times, drew some gems from Lorik. Anyone who has turned their eyes to the left a little on visitng Salut! Sunderland in the last day or two will know what I mean. The “female SAFC fan” is drooling over the evidence presented by Mr Caulkin that Lorik has plenty of brainpower to go with the impressive physique and lofty footballing skills.
“I have explored the area a little bit,” Lorik said. ” I have visited some Roman sites and I lived in a hotel in Durham for a month so I was able to look at the fantastic cathedral. When I have more time I want to visit Hadrian’s Wall and everything else. I love history and archaeological history, it’s a passion for me. History is the job I want to do after my career in football ends. Firstly I would have to continue my studies but I already have a decent level of knowledge and I know about the ancient history here. I have been reading about before the Roman invasion, about the Celts.”
As mentioned here before, Lorik is also a polyglot. His English isn’t brilliant, he says, but most who have heard him speak would say it compares favourably with that of certain native speakers. He has fluent French to go with his Albanian and has some ltalian and German too.
There is plenty more to read in the new Legion of Light. Imitation being flattery at its most sincere, Salut! Sunderland should perhaps take reflected pride in the space devoted to an interview with Tasmin Archer. Now where could they have got the idea of doing that celebrity supporter interview?
But back to Lorik and Arsène. Of course Arsenal will have noted and appreciated his talent. It may prove, sooner though we hope much later, impossible to keep him happy in the North East – unless, perhaps, he is the rock upon which we are able, after all the years of under-achievement, to build our own return to Top Club status.
And if we can’t, tell ’em he’ll set them back £25m plus a decent part-transfer replacement.