After a sixth season without a trophy, could Arsene Wenger’s long reign with Arsenal finally be under threat
|Gael Clichy will feel right at home at Eastlands alongside former Arsenal teammates [EPA]|
Manchester City signed France left back Gael Clichy from Premier League rivals Arsenal on Monday in a deal British media reported to be worth around $11.2 million.
The French defender will now challenge Aleksandar Kolarov for a regular spot in Roberto Mancini’s starting side.
Clichy spent nearly eight years at Arsenal and his move to big-spending City is bound to be seen as a comment on the status of the two clubs.
Last season City pipped Arsenal to third place in the league and won the FA Cup as the Gunners trophy drought, which stretches back to 2005, continued.
Now Clichy is the latest Arsenal ‘old boy’ at Eastlands where his teammates will include Patrick Vieira, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor.
“I can’t wait to get started and I think anything is possible with this team”
“I’m really happy to be joining such a great club,” Clichy told City’s official website.
“I hope I can add to the quality we already have here because we have a fantastic squad who I believe will continue to get better.”
“I can’t wait to get started and I think anything is possible with this team.”
Clichy added he was delighted to be linking up again with two of his closest friends in football in Toure and Vieira.
“When I first came to England, it was Kolo Toure and Patrick Vieira who took me under their wing and really looked after me,” he said.
“Kolo would pick me up and drop me at home and his wife used to cook meals for me. Patrick was always there to offer me advice so it’s wonderful to be back and at the same club they are at.”
Clichy, 25, made 264 appearances for Arsenal after signing from French club Cannes in August 2003.
He has won 10 caps for France to date, the last in 2010, and he was a member of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ team that won the 2003/04 Premier League without losing a single game.
That meant the then 18-year-old Clichy won a championship medal, making him the youngest recipient in Premier League history.
Clichy initially found himself acting as cover for Ashley Cole at Arsenal before the England man’s move across London to Chelsea saw him become a first-team regular.
Holding on to Al Habsi
In other transfer news, Omani goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi has joined Wigan Athletic on a permanent deal from Premier League rivals Bolton Wanderers following a successful loan spell with the Latics last season.
Al Habsi has signed a four-year deal believed to be worth $6.4 million and the 29-year-old, Wigan’s player of the season last term, was delighted by his move.
|The two Robertos – Mancini and Martinez – have both decided to strengthen their defences this week [GETTY]|
“To come from Bolton on a season loan and get player of the year was great – especially as it was the first time in my life I had played like a professional in terms of every week,” Al Habsi said.
“I want to say thanks to the gaffer (Wigan coach Roberto Martinez) for giving me the confidence to come to his club.”
“At my age this is the time to play week after week and I think I have come to the right club.”
Martinez added: “Ali had a phenomenal season, winning the player of the year award, and to do that as a loan player says a lot about him.”
“We signed him for the long term, someone who is a true ambassador for the club. He is the right age in terms of goalkeepers and I am extremely pleased.”
“I know the fans will be delighted. We had to work really hard to get a player who it was well known had had a terrific season but I know has another level to go to.”