By Avenell Dave
Is there anything more predictable or more boring and frustrating than an Arsenal transfer saga?
And don't think I'm just talking about Spanish seduction of our players such as Overmars, Petit, Anelka, Henry, Vieira (the only tug of war we won) and now Cesc.
Look at how long the deals took to complete for Andrey Arshavin or more recently, Maroune Chamakh.
Even re-signing players is rarely as short and sharp as it could be - when they're important players.
Just ask Dennis Bergkamp who ended up training in Holland during one summer contract impasse.
Or Henry who ended up signing a huge one year extension just so the Emirates stadium wasn't shorn of its icon as it opened its doors for the first season.
Or William Gallas or Mathieu Flamini or Edu whose contracts were allowed to run down either intentionally or not.
What is happening with Cesc is all too predictable.
I remember telling friends who support other clubs that Cesc will be World Player of the Year at some point, but probably not in an Arsenal shirt.
The fact is, he could go to Barcelona at 27 - that's four years from now - and still command a big fee and play at his peak for his hometown club.
But why should he wait so long?
Ivan Gazidis and Wenger will have sat down and decided what they should do and by even speaking about Barcelona's interest in their former prodigy, they would have given Barca's behaviour more credibility than it deserves.
I suspect that Wenger, while realising that selling Cesc will leave a huge hole both in the team and in the club, knows that there is absolutely no sense in selling the player before the World Cup.
Cesc may have a stinker, if he plays - remember he wasn't a regular first teamer in EURO 2008 even though injuries gave him his chances.
But the chances are, injuries apart, he will no doubt be one of the stars of the tournament in a team that, if they don't win it, will come awfully close.
And what is that going to do to his value? It's only going to make him more valuable, right?
It seems clear from Cesc's comments yesterday that he is torn and yet will not agitate for a move.
Wenger, ever the paternal coach, has sought to look after his playmaker and tell him to think about his sporting duties rather than where he will be playing next season.
If ever there was confirmation that nothing will happen before the World Cup, it was Cesc's quote about being told by Wenger to concentrate on Spain.
In the meantime, Cesc will hear very little from Arsenal (PHW apart) about how they value him - he has heard that from Wenger already and knows how us fans feel.
Barca will speak about how much they want him but it will only raise questions for Cesc when he sees how slippery they are in their negotiations, refusing to put in a concrete and substantial offer worthy of a player they claim to value so much.
Notwithstanding their own financial problems, if they can afford $60m+ and Eto'o for Ibrahimovic, they can find the cash for Fabregas and anything under £45m will be an outrage that I just don't see Arsenal accepting.
The more time goes on, the more doubt will come into Cesc's mind, wondering why Barca are not pulling out all the stops to sign him. And if they agitate during the World Cup, it will remind him that 'more than a club' pays no heed or respect to Spain's international chances.
Wenger is playing it perfectly - and he will help himself even more if he starts signing some proper players that reassure Cesc that we'll be stronger next season, not weaker.