Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Will Gilberto Leave Arsenal in January?

Gilberto Silva, one of Arsenal's vice-captains, has been strongly linked with a move to Italian giants Juventus. The holding midfielder, who is one of the few Arsenal players left from the club's 'invincible' season, has been kept out of the team for a large part of this season due to the recent form of 23 year-old Frenchman Mathieu Flamini.

The Brazil captain has been linked to both Juventus and Valencia, and was Arsene Wenger recently stated that he would be playing in Wednesday's Carling Cup clash with Sheffield United, further inciting departure rumors.

The competition is generally used by Premiership managers as a training ground for fringe, youth, and squad players, and Gilberto will be disappointed to fit into any of those categories. The Brazilian was Arsenal's interim captain while Thierry Henry was injured, and looked a strong candidate to receive the captains armband this year with the prolific Frenchman's departure to Barcelona.

However, the captaincy was given to William Gallas, and a loss of form after international duty with Brazil at the Copa America saw Gilberto miss the first few games. During those games, Mathieu Flamini asserted himself, registering some impressive performances, and although Gilberto did feature in Arsenal's side after his return, his performances were not of the caliber normally associated with the Brazil captain.

At 31 years of age, the player is far older than most of the players in the Arsenal squad and he must be getting nervous about Arsene Wenger's policy of phasing out older players.

While Gilberto will be looking to pick up one last Premier League medal with Arsenal this season, he may leave in favor of guaranteed playing time if offered a decent deal in January.

Personally, while I know that Gilberto has quality and experience, he is on his way out and I'd hate to see him spend a fruitless season and then sell for less (like Henry did before him). If Flamini can keep up his form, we won't need Gilberto any more, especially considering that we have Neves Denilson and Lassana Diarra, two up-and-coming holding midfielders.

I hate to say it since he has served our club so well, but if we get a good offer I'd like to see Gilberto gone sooner rather than later.