Reports emerged this week that Arsenal fullback Bacary Sagna had been offered a three-year deal to join Manchester City on a free transfer when his contract with the Gunners expires this summer.
The 30-year-old France international has been in negotiations for months on end with time running out to agree a deal with Arsenal, the club where he has spent the last eight years of his career under Arsene Wenger who claims any offer made by Manchester City is ‘illegal’.
"He has an offer [from Arsenal] but he has not come back to us yet.”
I discussed earlier this week whether the ‘story’ of this offer had been engineered by the players’ representatives to scare Arsenal into offering him an improved offer to stay on – my conclusion was that this three-year deal supposedly on the table from City was interestingly timed to say the least - and sounded a lot like the kind of negotiating tactic an agent would use to get his client a better deal from his club.
Nonetheless, is Wenger right that an offer from City would be illegal? Sagna’s current £50,000 a week contract expires on June 30 this year – he is well into his final six months of the deal. According to the Bosman ruling, Sagna was free to open talks with foreign clubs as of New Year’s Day 2014. However, he cannot talk to English clubs until the contract expires – if he does, that club can be accused of ‘tapping up’ but, just because it’s not legal, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Sagna’s agent will likely put the feelers out to other clubs across the country and the continent to get an idea of what could be on offer elsewhere – not only in order to prepare for the player’s departure but also to give him more weight in the negotiation process with Arsenal. Inter Milan have stated they are interested in Sagna and are considering a potential offer but, technically, he could sign a pre-contract agreement today with the Serie A club if he wanted which is why I still suspect the reports of a City offer are coming from the player’s camp.
Arsene Wenger’s claims of illegality are accurate but I also believe this is more of a message to Sagna’s representatives that reads: ‘I know what you’re up to and it’s not going to work’. However, it may be the player who has the last laugh if this tricky contract saga isn’t resolved soon. On June 30th it won’t be illegal for City or any other Premier League club to offer him a deal and, let’s face it, there are clubs who could and would happily triple his wage packet to sign him on a free transfer.