Arsène Wenger and Roberto Mancini make natural enemies on the pitch as their Arsenal and Manchester City sides chase the same goals, but the friction is also building off it.
Wenger yesterday expressed his anger at his City counterpart talking out of turn about the possibilityof snatching Samir Nasri away from the Emirates by the end of the month. With Barcelona pursuing his other main midfielder Cesc Fabregas, Wenger was hardly likely to be impressed about the prospect of losing Nasri to a Premier League rival, especially if City appear to be taking the signing for granted.
Wenger selected Nasri for the tour match in China yesterday, a 1-1 draw against Hangzhou Greentown, and let rip afterwards about the City manager discussing his player in public. "These comments are not allowed, it is against the basic rules of football and Roberto Mancini should be informed," the Frenchman said.
"I don't spend my time on what other people say. We are focused on playing our football. What we want is respect. We will not comment on any players at other clubs. It is time football in England came back to these basic rules."
Mancini was asked about his interest in Nasri earlier in the day as he prepared his squad – including the recent signing from Arsenal, Gaël Clichy – for pre-season action in California. "I don't know in this moment, I don't know the situation but for Nasri it is difficult," he said. "I hope that we can buy because we need other players, and I hope that this player can arrive before the end of the month."
That is not the kind of talk to endear him to Wenger, who not only wants to protect his squad, but is also sensitive to the suggestion that Arsenal's lack of trophies has changed them from a serious contender for honours into a feeder for the richest clubs, such as City.
Chelsea were the first of the super rich clubs to make their financial power felt and they have not lost their touch. They have signed the 19-year-old goalkeeper Thibault Courtois for £7.9 million on a five-year deal, and upset his club Genk in the process.
The Belgian club said that they were left with no option but to let Courtois go when he did not appear for their friendly against Lyon yesterday. They said Chelsea's offer for a young man who stands 6ft 6in and had already broken into Genk's first team was "by far the largest bid" they had ever received for a player.
Chelsea's new manager Andre Villas-Boas said: "There is an agreement between the two clubs. It is subject to personal agreements and from then we will decide what is best for him." He would not be drawn on Courtois' first-team prospects, saying: "As soon as he is a Chelsea player we will see what kind of future he has."Reuse content