Arsenal have formally confirmed that Gilberto Silva has sealed his move to Panathanaikos ending 6 years at the club having joined in August of 2002 as a member of Brazil`s winning World Cup team.
A dignified and quite man with great depth of character he is known as the ‘invisible wall` to his Brazilian colleagues. It`s a phrase that also gives some clue to his often underestimated contribution to the Arsenal team as some fans failed to see what his game was about. Gilberto`s value to the team had as much to do with what he did when he didn`t have the ball as what he did with it. Not that he was a slouch with the ball as his pass completion rate often demonstrated but his calm assurance didn`t catch the eye as often as someone making desperate last ditch tackles might. His 213 starts and 31 substitute appearances yielded 24 goals. At one time including the fastest goal in the champions league at 10.7 seconds until Roy Makaay notched up one a half second faster five years later. But of more note he also has the distinction of being the first ever Arsenal player to score in a top flight competitive match at the Emirates with a late equaliser against Villa in the stadiums opening premier league encounter. How appropriate it is that the mark the quiet man should make in the history books is one as indelible as that!
In his transfer I think Arsenal did right by him, recognising the value of his loyalty and his support. Gilberto apparently becomes Greek footballs highest paid player. The defensive midfielder, less than 3 months short of his 32nd birthday, can complete his career on a secure 3-year agreement. In not holding out for top dollar the club can take some satisfaction in its pragmatic approach to helping Gilberto get the best deal for himself.
Acting managing director Ken Friar had confirmed: “We had other offers but we respected Gilberto’s desire to sign for Panathinaikos.”
In today`s transfer market the transfer fee reported to be £1.25m is little more than a nominal sum but a sum that ensures that what will in all probability be Gilberto`s last major career contract is one on the terms that he wanted. I`d like to think that loyalty has its reward sometimes.
Fare thee well Gilberto – and thanks.
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