According to this extraordinary report from Dutch football magazine Voetbal International*, which is known to be fairly-reliable, Wilfried Bony's much talked about potential move to West Ham from Vitesse Arnhem may be the result of meddling from Chelsea, and Roman Abramovich particularly. I can't really make heads or tails of this, given that Chelsea were so recently linked to the Ivorian striker themselves. It seems ludicrous, then, that the club would play an active role in sending him elsewhere.
*Sent our way with a translation by reader Maikel Berends.
Well, there are some things going for the story. Firstly, Chelsea and Vitesse are pretty-closely linked, with some even claiming the club is essentially a Chelsea puppet state. It wouldn't be inconceivable, then, that the club may have some say in the transfer dealings of the Dutch club. Normally, though, such influence would only go so far as a first-refusal option on their players, not the ability to dictate transfer business. I'm not even sure that would be legal, now I think of it.
Even if it were on the level, the motivation for Chelsea to send Bony to fellow Londoners West Ham is a little hard to deduce. Until you read this quote from the article, as prepared by our good, old friend Google Translate, anyway:
Ook Liverpool, Newcastle United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Stoke City en Everton zijn zeer geïnteresseerd in de 24-jarige Ivoriaan, die bij Vitesse nog een contract heeft tot 2015. Bony liet vandaag weten graag te willen verhuizen naar Engeland.
Also, Liverpool, Newcastle United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Stoke City are very interested in the 24-year-old Ivorian, who at Vitesse still has a contract until 2015. Bony announced today eager to move to England.
As long as you ignore the part about Chelsea being interested, that is. If Chelsea are truly interested, it makes zero sense. They should just buy him, and not mess around with stashing him across town. If they aren't that interested, or think he's one for the future, there's kind of a logic to it. If he were to join a [fairly-]close Premier League rival like Arsenal, Liverpool, or Everton, he'd effectively be gone forever. A rival club is unlikely to ever sell or sell at a good price, so keeping him away from them would be a good thing.
According to the article, and relative team strength, Chelsea don't see West Ham as a major threat, which is probably a fair assessment. Stashing him at West Ham for a season or two would probably be a better strategy than simply not using him at Chelsea. It's tough to get the true sense of the report through the translation, but it seems as though Chelsea have some interest, but would prefer to lose him to a "safe" club now than a "dangerous" one while waiting to decide whether they want to buy him.
Who knows on this one, though? It seems plausible, but not necessarily probable. As I said earlier, it's something Roman would definitely do if allowed, but that's the thing. I'm still not sure it would be legal. It seems like something which would be very, very covert, and possibly even unspoken. I doubt anybody with ever know the truth on this, but the fact that a reasonably-reliable Dutch source is running a piece claiming it makes me think there may be some influence of Roman's giant, invisible hand in this potential move. It's like a real-life version of the Abramovich Code...or maybe just some insane rumours on a slow news day. Yay!
Thanks are due to Maikel Berend for the heads up. : )