The big news this morning is reported in the Independent that ArsÃ¨ne Wenger, the Arsenal manager, wants Newcastle’s Obafemi Martins â€“ via the release clause they revealed in Oba’s contract last week. The release amount is â‚¤13M so at least if he does move on â€“ Newcastle will have made a profit on him â€“ which is most unusual at the club.
There is no doubt that Wenger thinks highly of Martins and has often expressed his admiration for the player and it would not be surprising to us if this story has some truth to it. Arsenal have identified Martins as their main transfer target this summer to replace Thierry Henry – following Henry’s Â£16M departure to Barcelona this week. If Martins does move to Arsenal, it will break Arsenal’s transfer record, beating the Â£11M paid to Bordeaux for Sylvain Wiltord in 2000.
Certainly there are multiple problems for Sam Allardyce to handle at Newcastle right now â€“ and we have yet to hear from our Â£17M investment â€“ Michael Owen â€“ on what his plans are for the future. There have been multiple rumors over the summer that Michael is unhappy at the club but neither Owen nor his representatives have publicly said anything. We may know more on this when pre-season training starts next week.
On Martins – only last week following the armed gunman attack in Lagos, Nigeria – Oba expressed his happiness at being at Newcastle.
â€œI signed a contract with Newcastle and I am happy here at the club and the way the fans supported me even when I wasnâ€™t scoring was great,â€
â€œIf I am fully fit, there is no way I will back out from playing any game for Newcastle.
But it would not be right for me to wear the shirt and play when I know that I will not be giving my best. That will be like cheating the fans. â€
With these release clauses in both Martins’ and Owen’s contracts the price is set where Newcastle must release the player â€“ but then it is up to the player what he wants to do. Newcastle have even been reported to be willing to renew Oba’s contract – with increased terms – as long as the release clause is removed. This seems a sensible move for Newcastle and if Oba resists – that tells us something about his intentions.
Our feeling on this is simple â€“ if either Martins or Owen want to leave Newcastle â€“ there’s not much Newcastle can do about it â€“ and we are sure Sam would have to move the player out. This also follows the golden rule â€“ particularly true for those who play for Allardyce â€“ that we only want players at Newcastle who want to be here.
If either Martins or Owen want to leave – so be it. Then Sam will need to go after some new strikers – so from a Newcastle viewpoint the sooner we hear from both Oba and Michael about their intentions at Newcastle – the better.