Shay Given yesterday told Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, he will not play second fiddle to Joe Hart and wants out of the club. But Irish international Given balked at putting in an official transfer request to avoid losing contractual compensation should City agree to sell him now new the England international Hart is considered the club's No 1 goalkeeper.
The situation has created a potential carousel of keepers moving Premier League clubs over the next week. The key figures in all the machinations are Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, and Fulham's new coach, Mark Hughes. Wenger has wanted to lure Fulham's current No 1 Mark Schwarzer since putting in an £8 million (Dh46m) bid last May. Although according to Fulham Arsenal have messed them around since.
And Given's sudden availability has made Arsenal consider their position even though previously they have backed off signing the Irishman because despite his brilliant record with Newcastle United, City and his country, has been considered too short in stature by Wenger . To complicate matters, even though City will be willing to let Given go - pending signing a suitable No 2 replacement - they will not be keen on selling him to a Premier League top four rival.
It is understood though that Given, having been "let down" by Arsenal in the past, might snub their renewed interest and play under Hughes, who signed him for City, for Fulham on loan for a year. Such a scenario would give Hughes the confidence to allow the Australia international Schwarzer to complete a move to Arsenal. Despite an outstanding display by young goalkeeper David Stockdale in Fulham's opening day 0-0 draw at Bolton Wanderers, Hughes knows he mush have an experienced keeper to ensure Fulham's Premier League's status is not under threat and would welcome Given.
On that front though, Hughes has also made enquires about Aston Villa's Brad Friedel. So it could be that, if Friedel is lured by Fulham, Given could end up finding a home at Villa. Or City's might see Friedel as the perfect reserve for Joe Hart. What is certain, is that Arsenal, if they are to become title contenders, need a new No 1with both Schwarzer and Given fitting the bill. As one of Arsenal's former players, Paul Merson, reflected after the 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Sunday: "If Arsenal are to challenge for the title then they must have a new keeper.
"Manuel Almunia is a very good keeper but to win the title you need a world-class keeper. "Given is in that category and if he is available then Arsenal should buy him. But these deals become very complicated when it comes to one club selling a player to another when they are after the same thing. "It might well suit City to block selling Given to Arsenal." firstname.lastname@example.org