Friday, 6 July 2012

Vicente: If you love them, let them go

Brighton, it seems, have made it to the Big Time. Well, relatively speaking.

Just as Manchester City had Tevezgate, the Seagulls are ‘enjoying’ their own long-running player dispute which, as we know, is the mark of any true big club.

Vicente - possibly the most talented player seen in an Albion shirt in the last 30 years - has not come back for pre-season training. Instead, the talismanic midfielder is still in Spain. No hills runs and medicine ball tummy pounding for him.

When he arrived last season he signed a one year deal, with the club retaining the option to extend it by an extra 12 months should they so wish. And, having seen a string of impressive displays towards the tail end of the season, they wished.

So, while Vicente was back in Spain for the birth of his second child, the Albion activated the extension. And things began getting a bit complicated.

Gus Poyet, you see, had promised he wouldn’t do that. Speaking earlier this year he said he would only activate the clause if Vicente was happy to stay.

Then other clubs starting sniffing round. You get the impression that, whether the decision was made by Tony Bloom or new chief exec Paul Barber, the club has acted to protect its investment.

Either the fact any potential suitor would now have to pay a fee may have scared some bargain hunters off. And, for those undeterred, well, they would have to stump up some cash to sign the star Spaniard.

One of those sides, Spanish second tier outfit Elche, have shown their hand somewhat. Their chairman has declared an interest in snapping up Vicente by the time they report back for pre-season on Monday.

Vicente and his new agent who is fast becoming the villain in the piece as far as Albion fans are concerned - are still in Spain and apparently angry that the Albion went back on their promise not to force another season on the player.

A two-year deal was offered. It remains unsigned. The situation seems to have reached a stalemate. Poyet says he is in no rush to sort it out while Vicente won’t return to Sussex until it is.

The season is fast approaching and the manager needs to get on with his squad building for an anticipating tilt at the play off positions. The Vicente saga isn’t helping.

But, more importantly, the club’s decision to essentially force Vicente into staying lacks class.

His talent lit up The Amex. His signing raised the profile of the club both home and abroad.

The Albion will also be a far more attractive promotion prospect with him in the side.

But, if his heart is elsewhere then the club should stick to their original stance. Maybe Poyet did not have the authority to say the extension would not be enforced. Whether he did or not though, Vicente is clear he believed that to be the case.

We might be heading for the Big Time, but that does not mean we have to act like a Premier League giant.

We were lucky to have seen a player like him appear in the stripes. I am not sure many of us thought we ever would.

But I for one don’t want to see him held here if his heart is not in it.

As the old saying goes, if you love them - and Brighton fans certainly do love Vicente - let them go.

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