Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Juve done us a favour*

Having been the beneficiaries of arguably the summer's best transfer deal (ie getting Damien Duff for just £5m up front), we can now proudly claim to be the beneficiaries of the most unlikely. Paul may have scoffed at the prospect when it was first mooted (as did I), but today Jean-Alain Boumsong slipped over off to Juventus for £3.3m.

Our deposed and disgraced black and white brethren might have been haemorraghing players fast, but, seriously, who's the genius who thought: "We've just lost Fabio Cannavaro. Who's the man to fill his boots and help get us out of Serie B? I know..." That said, the move is no less mystifying to us Toon fans than Raymond Domenech's recurrent inclusion of Boumsong in his French squads.

Boumsong was one of Graeme Souness's first signings, arriving in January 2005 for the princely sum of £8m. Rangers fans were laughing at us for two principal reasons: for paying that much for a player who'd cost them nothing six months before, and for paying it for someone who'd not exactly pulled up trees north of the border. But, for a player derided as a waste of money who couldn't even excel in a Mickey Mouse league, Boumsong didn't start too badly and turned in some pretty decent performances as we staggered to the end of the season.

Last season was a different story, though. If ever there was a player who could justifiably be labelled "hapless", it was Boumsong. He looked utterly clueless - and yet somehow continued to get picked for France. So far this season he's been behind Titus Bramble, Craig Moore and Steven Taylor in the pecking order, so it was clearly time to move on.

No-one will be sorry to see him go (apart perhaps from those who enjoyed the "Boum Boum Boum, let me hear you say 'Way aye'!" song in his early days), but it's not all rejoicing and street parties round here. After all, for the benefit of the non-mathematicians amongst you it's worth pointing out that we've made a £4.7m loss on him over the space of little more than a year and a half. Chelsea might be able to absorb the damage of letting expensive signings go cheaply (see: Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo, Duff), but we can't. It just ain't sustainable.

Anyway, Boumsong's departure now means that defensive reinforcements are more urgent than ever. But who? Sol Campbell's gone to Portsmouth, and, with William Gallas out of favour and possibly on his way to the Emirates Stadium, Wayne Bridge has started the season as first choice left back for the champions - and started it well. Whoever the targets are, let's just hope Roeder doesn't take his eye off that particular ball while chasing strikers. (And, for the record, I think we should have gone in for Khalid Boulahrouz long before Chelsea snapped him up - just the sort of strong, commanding and versatile player we need at the back.)

* I can't (or at least won't) take credit for this - it was Paul's suggestion.


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