Vieira silence explained at last

By Myles Palmer

Dein and Wenger really did play hardball, as I always hoped they would !

I was told this morning, via a very highly placed source, that when Patrick Vieira reported for training they simply sat him down and told him that Arsenal would hold him to his contract for the next three years.

If he didn’t like it, he could play for the reserves. But he was not going anywhere. Not to Real Madrid, not anywhere.

Because you don’t spend £38 million on five new players and simultaneously sell your linchpin.

This information explains a lot. It explains Vieira’s silence. It explains his refusal to apologise for the behaviour of his agent Marc Roger.It explains why David Dein and Arsene Wenger never commented on the prices being quoted, like the figure of £22 million that Real were ready to bid.

What we heard from Dein was not a negotiating tactic, as it had been in the Anelka saga. The club wanted to keep Anelka, but eventually accepted that he would go.

But Vieira was NEVER going to be Anelka II.

Dein said,”Patrick Vieira is an Arsenal player and he is not for sale at any price.” He meant it.They never mentioned a price, or responded to prices quotes by other people.

Have they doubled his wages to keep him happy?Let’s wait and see on that one.

Will Vieira sulk? No, because he is a good pro.Will he care as much as he did before? Will he play as well as he did before? Nobody knows that at the moment, not even him.

Referees and opponents were looking for Vieira at the start of last season, he got sent off harshly twice, and after that he went 22 games without a yellow card.

That took something off his game, but it was worth it because referees are no longer looking for him. And he has never been a dirty player anyway.I can count on my thumbs the number of times I have seen him deliberately kick an opponent.

We can safely say that two things have not changed. Vieira loves playing football. And he hates not playing football.He hates missing games and he hates watching games.

Last year he learned, after a lot of heartbreak, how to stay on the field, and he also learned how to score more goals.

If he starts getting sent off, and stops scoring goals, half a million Arsenal fans are going to feel betrayed.

Cynics often say that every player has his price, that nobody, however talented,is indispensable, that every footballer is, in the end, for sale.

But not, it seems, Arsenal’s Patrick. Not this summer anyway.

26th July 2001.