I haven’t had the chance to gauge the general sentiment of the fans about the transfer of Clichy to Man City so I will just share my views. I think this transfer is good for all concerned.
From the player’s point of view, this move will give him a fresh start in a completely different environment where he will get much better defensive support than he did at Arsenal in the last three years. I expect Clichy to thrive at City and perform better than their overhyped acquisitions like Bridge, Lescott, and Kolarov. While the Frenchman might need some time to adapt to the new system, manager, and teammates; I won’t be surprised if he rediscovers the form that got him into the 07-08 PFA team of the year.
For City, it is an excellent signing. They have spent a lot of money on left backs but most have struggled to perform consistently. The Blues from Manchester could have spent three times the reported £7 they paid for Clichy without finding half the quality in the present market. I am disappointed a rival has been strengthened but if Clichy had to go, it is better he went to a club that can afford virtually anyone rather than a club like Liverpool who are also struggling to find the right player for that position.
From Arsenal’s point of view, a change at left back provides a chance to rework the balance of the squad. In my opinion, Clichy had to sacrifice his attacking instincts while playing alongside the likes of Arshavin and Wilshere. Wenger should now pick a more defensive minded player for that role, especially one who can deal with aerial balls a little better than Clichy did.
There are many opinions about the replacement. I am with those who think Vermaelen should be moved to left back. This would make even more sense if Arsene goes out and buys a good central defender.
For all his talents, Clichy didn’t offer enough in the air often ending up on the posts while the team defended set-pieces. If Vermaelen moved to left back and a new central defender of similar quality is purchased, Arsenal will have a much stronger aerial presence in the defensive and attacking third.
Technically, the Belgian is good enough to play the role and has indeed performed admirably in the past for Ajax and for his country.
Gibbs can continue to deputize and can take over if Vermaelen is needed in the centre of defence due to an injury or any other reason.
To be frank, I am saddened by this departure because Clichy was one of those who went about his job without complaining and never made a scene. Others in his position would have found many reasons to whine but the Frenchman was extremely professional and devoted to the club while he was here. I will miss him and will continue to track his career over the next few years. It will be entertaining to see Sagna and Clichy on the same flank on opposite sides rather than the other way around that we have become used to. Hopefully, his best games won’t come against Arsenal.
Goodbye Gael. Wish you all the best.