According to The Daily Express and others, Arsene Wenger is looking to bring Newcastle midfielder Cheik Tiote to Arsenal for £8 million. This rumor is the latest of many to surface about the Ivorian international, and to be perfectly honest, there's plenty of reason for skepticism here.
For starters, even though Tiote has been linked to Arsenal ever since he scored that infamous goal against them in February 2011, he's not a fit for Wenger's system, which emphasizes flair and playmaking over grit and ball-winning. All of the reports seem to suggest that he's looking for a defensively minded midfielder, but while that term technically applies to Tiote, it's too generic to really mean anything. It's hard to see how he would be anything but a poor match for the Gunners.
As long as we're on the topic of Wenger, let's go ahead and acknowledge that he spent the week leading up to last season pining after Yohan Cabaye. It would make sense that he would want to unsettle a Newcastle player that he has no intention of buying if they were on the upcoming fixtures list, but the two sides don't meet until December. Jog on, Arsene.
If there's something to be worried about here, it's the valuation. Tiote has been linked with several clubs over the summer (he's usually connected to at least one or two), including some Turkish ones just a couple of days ago. The £8 million fee remains a constant, and while that could be a case of publications copying each other, the consistency of it suggests that a single source, whether player agent or club representative, is feeding this information to reporters.
That fee is pretty low, especially when compared to players of similar age, playing style, and class that have moved recently. The 28 year-old had a successful World Cup and is coming off of a relatively injury-free season in which he was named captain 5 times and earned acclaim for his play. Newcastle have no obvious replacement ready to play his role if he leaves and are under no compulsion to sell players in order to comply with Premier League squad restrictions. So if the £8 million figure is accurate, why are they lowballing his price? If they're not careful, they could accidentally-on-purpose sell a vital player and sabotage the entire transfer window.
That wouldn't be unlike Newcastle United, and in fact it's so crazy that it's probably going to happen. I'm not necessarily against moving Tiote, though I've alway been pretty transparent on this blog about his status as my favorite current player. If they do sell him, it's got to be for more - or else they'd better have a replacement in line to immediately take his place at a similar discount. A year ago, I would have scoffed at the suggestion, but with the new Newcastle United, anything is possible.