Mikel Arteta appears to be close to signing Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa on a free after the player failed to reach an agreement with his club. Arsenal’s coach is trying to bolster the club’s shaky back-line, create competition and work within financial restraints and he may have the first piece of the giant big puzzle. The player is represented by agent Kia Joorabchian, who also represents a host of players that Arsenal have recently been linked with such as Chelsea’s Willian and £142million Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho.
Kurzawa is available on a free transfer this summer and several clubs including Barcelona being interested in the full-back. Arsenal were close to signing the Frenchman last January before he decided to see out the remainder of the season with Paris Saint-Germain.
In a decidedly tangled and complex web, Joorabchian is not only an Arsenal fan, but he is said to be on agreeable terms with the head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu. Something which has created a storm for the press and any player represented by the Iranian businessman.
He is known as a determined, direct and slick operator but he comes with the baggage, having been the deal maker in the incredibly messy transfer of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez from Corinthians to West Ham in 2006.
The West Ham transfer turned out to be a third-party transaction where the players were technically owned by four investment groups, Media Sports Investments (MSI), Just Sports Incorporated, Global Soccer Agencies (GSA) and Mystere Services Limited, all represented by the magical hand of Kia Joorabchian.
There followed a protracted court case featuring the agent and West Ham, which saw the club guilty of hiding third-party involvement and having to soak up an initial £5.5m fine and which had probably cost £50m since.
This is why many are concerned by his frequent visits to the Emirates and his growing influence at the club where he once considered investing, but settled for a £100,000-a-year corporate box.
Would he invest given the opportunity? Undoubtedly, but it’s unlikely Stan Kroenke will relinquish any shares having arm-wrestled the remaining 30% from Alisher Usmanov for £550m in 2018.
Yet, Kia Joorabchian has somehow managed to become more than your average football agent and has the ear of those at the top of the club and can be relied on during transfer windows for his openness and unlimited assistance when required. How far that practice extends is unclear, but it’s possible that phone calls could be made and gentle inquiries could be issued from outside the Emirates.
As one of the top ten movers, shakers and fixers, the Iranian can be very persuasive and persistent when completing a deal and his association with top players leads to constant speculation in North London.
His recent attempts at fire fighting when asked if Philippe Coutinho of Barcelona was on his way to the Emirates, was met with the inevitable mistrust, but the price tag is more likely to extinguish that particular blaze even though it’s thought that it could now be as low as £50m.
In short, Arsenal would be wise to reduce their involvement and reliance on Kia Joorabchian. I’m not suggesting that he is on the verge of causing similar disruption to the West Ham affair, but he has a lot of fingers in a wide variety of pies, some disclosed, some not, via a collection of companies and individual financial interest in many South American players.