TIDYING UP ALL THE LOOSE STORIES IN FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
SAGNA REJECTED ARSENAL VICE-CAPTAINCY
Given his pedigree and length of service, it was a surprise to many observers that Bacary Sagna was overlooked for Arsenal leadership honours last summer.
But The Sweeper can reveal that the 29-year-old Frenchman was indeed approached by the club to be the vice-captain in the wake of Robin van Persie’s departure but rejected the opportunity.
Thomas Vermaelen was promoted from Van Persie’s No2 to take over as club captain, which opened the door for a new deputy.
Although Johan Djourou, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky are Arsenal’s three longest-serving first-team players, sources have said that Sagna, who joined Arsenal from Auxerre in the summer of 2007, was Arsene Wenger’s first choice to be the vice-captain.
Mysteriously, Sagna opted to remain a rank-and-file player, handing Mikel Arteta the chance to be promoted just 12 months after his £10million move from Everton.
In that time, the Spaniard has established himself as one of the most voluble and extrovert members of a generally quiet dressing room.
MAN UTD PART-FUNDED £4M BERBATOV MOVE
By common consent, Fulham pulled off one of the transfers of the summer when they beat Tottenham and Fiorentina to the signing of Dimitar Berbatov.
The deal might be considered even more of a coup given the numbers involved.
The Sweeper has learned that the Londoners paid Manchester United £4million for the Bulgarian, while, at the same time, negotiating a deal in which England’s highest-earning club pay a portion of the striker’s salary.
So keen were United to get the 31-year-old off their wage bill that they agreed to make up some of the difference between Berbatov’s six-figure Old Trafford agreement, which had a year to run in the summer, and Fulham’s £50,000-a-week salary ceiling.
Berbatov rejected Spurs on deadline day to sign a two-year Fulham deal because he was so keen to re-unite with ex-White Hart Lane boss Martin Jol.
REED THE RIGHT-HAND MAN
Barring a sudden and unexpected upswing in results, it is only a matter of time before Nigel Adkins’ Southampton reign is brought to an end.
While the finger of chairman Nicola Cortese hovers over the trigger, a less public but highly influential role is being played at the club by Les Reed, the low key former FA coach who had a short-lived spell as Charlton manager in 2006.
A director of football in all but name, the Southampton executive director is believed to have been a key figure in the club’s disastrous summer transfer market dealings when they most notably failed to strengthen a defence that many thought was ill equipped for the rise in standard that accompanied promotion to the Premier League.
According to one well-placed source, Reed is a “strong influence” on the volatile Cortese and is “in the ear all the time” of the club supremo.
However, few at St Mary’s expect the powerful Reed to take too much responsibility for Southampton’s miserable start to life back in the top flight.
BEDDING DOWN IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Which 22-year-old Premier League player was sold to a Championship club in the summer after incurring the wrath of his manager with some unorthodox behaviour?
The midfielder was offloaded soon after it emerged that he had had a brief relationship with the PA of a senior club official.