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Teasing Sagna Is No Joke

This is my first time writing about my beloved Arsenal in over a year so my writing is likely to be a Gervinho shot from the edge of the box away from my best. Circumstance has dictated that I've had less freedom to pen my thoughts in recent times, so I hope you'll be patient with me as I rummage hesitantly through the cluttered spare room that this part of my mind has become. Though as Arsenal fans I'm sure you're all used to being patient.

The topic that has driven me to write is a, perhaps innocuous, comment from our double-Ramseyed 'wantaway', Bacary Sagna. In case you missed it, here is what he said:

"At Arsenal, in the dressing room they tease me every day telling me I will leave to play at PSG."

As soon as I read this I felt annoyed and uncomfortable, but while I had a vague understanding of why, it took me a fair few minutes to figure out the exact reason. It wasn't because I am desperate for Sagna to stay – I'm open to him staying and also leaving if we replace well – but instead because of what this suggests about the mentality in the dressing room. It seems to me that players have too relaxed an attitude towards a fellow first-teamer leaving the club, and I don't like it.

Of course context is important – as @PensiveGunner mentioned to me on Twitter it "all depends on the interpretation. The jokes, which weren't explained, could be mocking his loyalty." But while this is a somewhat valid point, I would be very surprised to hear such a comment from a first team player at Man U, Barcelona, Real, Bayern or almost any other big club we should be aspiring to truly rival.

Perhaps because Sagna is someone that many are now happy to see leave this issue seems a lot less important, but I argue that if this is happening for Sagna it could happen for Santi or Kosicielny. Or Jack.

Imagine hearing this 2 years ago:

Fabregas: "At Arsenal, in the dressing room they tease me every day telling me I will leave to play at Barcelona"

Would people then have had the same blasé reaction? I think not. The same can be applied to any of our 'big' players who have left, and also to Theo – who luckily decided to stay. I can't imagine the outrage if he had said similar things about his teammates in the run up to January.

It's cool. The lads at Arsenal do this to me everyday.

At the end of the day my view, as a fan, is probably warped to some degree (even if by saying 'at the end of the day' I'm going a long way towards forming an intellectual bond with footballers everywhere). The reality is that I'm sure this type of thing happens all the time. Footballers are professionals and football is a job – as we are constantly reminded – and however much us fans want to imprint our values onto our heroes they will always view the sport from an entirely different perspective.

But I still can't help but think that in a dressing room with someone like Alex Ferguson, jokes of this kind just would not be tolerated. A radish-faced bastard he may have been, but more often than not he knew how to deal with players that were thinking about leaving and it wasn't by slapping them on the back and 'teasing' them about a prospective move to a European rival.

The fact that Sagna says it happens "every day" in the "dressing room" is important. If it was a one-time comment from a player on the training pitch then I still wouldn't like it, but actually in the dressing room? All the time? It's all speculation, of course, but the likelihood here is that senior figures hear it and condone it and that makes it a lot worse in my opinion.

Ultimately there are far more important things for Arsenal to deal with, and issues like this – if indeed it is an issue – seem to fade into irrelevance when faced with our need for better players and greater consistency over a season. But in my eyes it highlights a subtle flaw in the mentality of our club and our players, and in a game where the margins between success and failure are so small we should be doing everything in our power to remove it.

Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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