Could Arsenal learn some lessons from Barca's ugly game?

By Graham McNorthbank

My Addict colleague Avenell Dave is furious about the way in which Barcelona go about using the press for their transfer dealings. To be fair to Dave, he's always been unimpressed by Barca's manipulative ways, even before the current tug of war over Cesc Fabregas.

But I have to admit, I admire the way the Catalan giants go about their business. Why? Because it works. Being a fan of their club must be fantastic when it comes to transfers - we want that bloke, bang, we've got him.

Just look at their latest signing, David Villa. The club announced he would be joining and he did. Simple as that. None of the protracted nonsense we see at Arsenal.

For example, we all know - or suspect - that Marouane Chamakh is about to become a Gunner. The player himself says it, his club Bordeaux admit it, but from Arsenal we don't hear a word. And this is a free transfer we're talking about.

When David Dein was still at Arsenal, we used to get signings that genuinely excited us fans - and that were handled expertly by the Arsenal PR machine.

Given the experience that Ivan Gazidis has in signing players, I was hoping we might be in for a return of those days, but I'm yet to see any sign of it and I think I speak for all Gooners when I say that the last three or four transfer windows have been disappointing.

Today's latest is that Arsenal are apparently posturing by demanding up to £80 million for Cesc's services. That's all well and good, but if the player himself wants to go and Barca are willing to have him, I think a fee of less than half than that is more likely.

But we all know from bitter experience that when Barcelona want an Arsenal player, they usually get him - in the Wenger era alone there have been Thierry Henry, Alex Hleb, Mark Overmars, Emmanuel Petit.

So even if we do hang on to Cesc for another season, we all know where he is destined to go.

But back to my initial point. Sure Arsenal and Arsene Wenger can claim the moral high ground when it comes to the way in which we conduct transfers. But quite frankly I couldn't give a monkeys.

The whole point of the club putting itself into a risky debt was so we could compete with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man United, Chelsea and the bigger Italian clubs. You don't need me to tell you that those promises from the board have not been fulfilled.

As it is, when Arsenal do sign players from smaller cubs, you often hear the same kind of complaints that some of us Gooners are levelling against Barca: basically the bigger boy is bullying us.

Well personally I'm fed up of it. If we're going to break the perception that Arsenal is now Barcelona's feeder club, we have to grow some balls, step off the moral high ground and start waking up to the business of football in the 21st century because the Victorian gentlemen's ethics are leaving us trailing behind our rivals in the transfer market.

So let's hear about Chamakh becoming a Gunner and let's sign the other players needed: a goalkeeper, a central defender (or two), a defensive midfielder and - if Cesc departs - a proven classy creative midfielder.

I don't think I can stand another summer where I'm sitting here at the computer, constantly refreshing the deals done pages on the last day of the transfer window.

There are worse things in this world than the way Barcelona do business, so maybe we should emulate them and be bullish about the players we want to see playing in red and white next season - this is the Arsenal after all.

If the board are truly so shocked at the way the Spanish conduct themselves, then turn down the money. I know they won't because it'll be another chunk of the deby written off and that for me is a far bigger crime than anything Barca are doing.