Arsenal's on again, off again pursuit of Stevan Jovetic is being undermined by the player's agent, Fali Ramadani. The agent seems determined to dispatch his client to Italian Champions Juventus.
There is simply no other way to explain the bizarre recent flip-flop from Fiorentina towards Arsenal's interest. It started with the Florence club's sporting director, Daniele Prade, denying Arsenal are even interested in Jovetic.
Football-Italia.net, citing an interview with Rai Sport, quote Prade saying, "In my view, Arsene Wenger has no interest in Jovetic, as we haven't had any contact with them."
This is despite over two months of reports claiming initial talks and done deals. Of course, not every transfer tip in the press has the virtue of being fact.
However, when certain rumors are reported so frequently and receive such widespread attention, it is reasonable to assume there is no smoke without fire.
Which is why it is surprising to read Fiorentina going out of their way to retreat from links to Arsenal. The interest from Turin giants Juventus could help explain things.
In the same report that Prade stated "the Arsenal option doesn't exist," he took the first steps towards facilitating a Juve switch. He claims, per the same Football-Italia.net report, that he is currently prohibited from speaking to Juventus.
Prade says he will abide by the decision, as long as Fiorentina maintain that stance: "I have not been authorised to speak to Juventus. If the club's owners do not authorise me to do so, then I will continue along this path."
That sounds suspiciously like an attempt to court the one club who could meet La Viola's £30 million asking price. Prade sounds like he does want to talk with Juventus, and is urging them to be patient and not move on to other targets.
That idea has further credence after today's report from Football-Italia.net, citing an interview with Novosti. For the first time, Ramadani states his client wants to stay in Italy: "Stevan would prefer to remain in Serie A, rather than moving to a new country." If you listen very carefully, you can almost hear Juventus being told to take their cue.
Ramadani has not previously been so direct about his client's intentions. These machinations, along with the rumored £30 million price tag, are clear attempts to force Arsenal out of the race and leave the field clear for Juventus.
As tough as this is to take for Arsenal fans, Jovetic moving to Juve does make sense. Geographically, his homeland, Montenegro, is in close proximity to Florence, which sits on the North East side of Italy.
Joining Juve would not only keep Jovetic close to home, it would give him a chance to link up with countryman Mirko Vucinic. The veteran striker is one of Jovetic's idols, according to The Daily Mirror.
There is also another reality Arsenal fans have to accept in the transfer market. The club is not the force it was, despite another top-four finish.
The Gunners are not an attractive destination, when players consider the potential for imminent trophies. Juventus, meanwhile, will be the favorites to retain Serie A again in 2013/14.
The Old Lady will also be consider more of a viable contender in the UEFA Champions League. They may have finished the season in fine form, but Arsenal don't appear primed to lift the game's major prizes any time soon.
That is the harsh fact Gunners chief Arsene Wenger has to try and get potential targets, like Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, to ignore. It is why even a £70 million transfer war chest, might not alter the patterns of players Arsenal are able to recruit. That is a depressing thought ahead of a critical summer.
Certainly starting off his recruitment drive by losing out on his top target, is far from ideal for Wenger. However, if Jovetic and his agent do force a move to Juve, Wenger will have to scramble for alternatives.
Yet they won't be the type of alternatives that represent a shift in spending and recruitment policies, or have Arsenal dominating the headlines. Instead, they will likely be the kind that demand more of the fans' faith in Wenger's reputation for unearthing gems.1155575