It is refreshing to come across a general football website that does not merely lift what it can from the mainstream press but offers its own comments on the material it finds …
CaughtOffside did so today, reporting Mail and Express stories suggesting Arsenal are preparing to offer up to £20m for Stéphane Sessegnon and £6m for Kieran Richardson before describing such targets as representing a “big step backwards” for the Gunners.
The site’s writer, who uses The Newshound as his canine nom de guerre, dismisses the reported interest as “more befitting a Europa League challenge than a move forwards”. Promising “no disrespect meant to the Black Cats”, which can safely be taken as an admission of disrespect, CaughtOffside’s rottweiler declares that neither player is “better than what is already available to Wenger now”.
He says that while the suggested price tag of £6m for Richardson sounded good value for money, it “would surely not appease Gunners fans who want to see the club bring in top notch talent”. As for Sess, our star “has improved a great deal in his second season at the Stadium of Light but a £20m valuation, as place by the Express is simply ridiculous”.
It is indeed ridiculous, Newshound. Ridiculously short of the heights to which his value has soared during a run of performances that has made him a serious contender for recognition as the best performing player in the Premier just now.
I made that point in a comment that briefly appeared at CaughtOffside before being deleted for what I can only think was the pathetic reason that it included a link to Pete Sixsmith’s assessment that Sess was by far the most accomplished player on the pitch (even though he was deployed out of his most effective position). Here is the link that site to show we’re above such pettiness.
I added that while I considered the writer’s judgement to be completely wrong – Richardson, arguably, was the best back from either side on show in both games against Arsenal – I hoped his Londoncentric view prevailed.
It would be wonderful if we could just tell Arsenal or anyone else, if the stories have any substance, to re-arrange off and bog into a well-known phrase or saying. But the unsettling of players in these stories, whether the result of journalistic imagination, agents’ manipulation or – heaven forbid – germs of truth, is sadly par for the course.
Let us hope that players we need recognise that they are part of a terrific revolution under Martin O’Neill at the Stadium of Light, one that Asamoah Gyan must be kicking himself for having greedily opted out of.
I regard Richardson as an important member of our first-team squad, more much useful because of his varied qualities than some fans have given him credit for.
Maybe just maybe, Sess will also see that there is infinitely more value in playing week after week for a proper club, where his skills and commitment are fully and warmly appreciated, than competing for bench space and occasionally turning out for a brand many of whose supporters cling to a belief that they are entitled to win every game.
And take it from us, Arsène (assuming you are still in charge come the summer): The Newshound is right, Sess is vastly overrated and is under no circumstances worth the £30m+ he’d cost you if Ellis Short is half the businessman I take him to be. Buy Gyan instead.