On Transfers, Contracts & Geriatrics


You knew it was coming, the infamous Arsenal stalking horse appears in the media and suddenly a new contract arrives. This time it is Mario Mandzukic who has elicited the response he wanted, with Bayern Munich rushing to get the paperwork to his Mr20%. Meanwhile, former Arsenal target Luke Shaw is now a Chelsea target as they seek to exploit Southampton’s disarray. If the Saints could stay that way for another week or so and let it impact on the pitch, it would truly appreciated. All the while, Daniel Levy is plotting to destroy Arsenal’s desire to sign Julian Draxler from the back pages.

The scenario of Draxler’s future hanging on a thread, dangling at Levy’s wind is amusing with the media eager to compare the situation to Mesut Özil’s transfer from Real Madrid. I suppose the way to ram home to the Tottenham chairman just how insignificant his club has become, would be to offer the value of Draxler’s release clause which is reportedly set at £37m. It would be an astonishing level of spending by the club and the prospect of doing whets the appetite. Not for the player himself, personally I have not seen enough of him beyond YouTube compilations to form a detailed opinion on him; the rule of thumb has to be if the manager believes him good enough, that is all you need to know. Arsène is no different from any other manager, as capable of signing a genius as a pup. They all take steps to mitigate the latter, the difference now is that the cost is higher than before.

There is an expectation that the club will sanction spending at such levels every year. Maybe they will, probably they won’t but the control they have been given by the increasing wealth means that decisions are primarily football-based. The worms have died in the tin and turned rancid in the argument of whether Arsenal have been as cash-starved as popular mythology would have us believe. Some believe there wasn’t even a pot to, well you guess the rest of that whilst others believe there was, it was a case of reluctance on the part of the manager to use his financial resources to their fullest extent as it contradicted his philosophy of believing in the players he already had, delivering the success he desired. That ethos changed, not in an instant but over time, beginning in the Summer of Love when the squad was shorn of its leading lights and were replaced by experienced heads.

Fox’s argument is sound in that Arsenal won’t compete with the likes of Chelsea on price. They might be able to take a £16m cash bath on a player they sold for £5m, you can expect the cheque book to be burned if that happens. There was enough criticism when George Graham spent £2m signing a player he didn’t rate seven years earlier. It doesn’t mean that the club cannot compete with their wealthier rivals on the pitch though, just that the methodology of achieving that end is different. It is as naive to believe Arsenal will spend their transfer budget each summer in one deal as to believe that they won’t sign big players every year; the change will be the profits on the sale of players may not be as great as they have been with the balance in the squad changing from youth to experience to allow the former to flourish out of the spotlight. As much as that represents the antithesis of Arsène’s managerial philosophy, the truth is Arsenal are building their own Galactico transfer policy except this one is underpinned by commonsense and not commercial demands.

Equally, the development of a squad means that once the base is right, there are fewer holes to fill. As the season progresses, we know that this month or in the summer, another striker is going to arrive. The necessity of last summer has not diminished as this season progresses. Another centre back is likely for the same reason but there the immediate needs end; after that, it is a case of refreshing the squad with better players or replacing departures. The needs change.

Mesut Özil has identified that practice. According to the German international, Arsenal ought to be one of Europe’s top five sides with their technical gifts of the players. To me that elevated status seems a few seasons away, it is not target achieved in one season, to attain those heights the club needs to be pushing semi-finals and finals on a regular basis. That is a tall order and some clubs such as Real Madrid trade on their commercial status and history and not current footballing success. Arsenal, like Madrid, can reasonably claim in footballing terms to be in the top sixteen and arguably in the top ten such is the consistency in negotiating the group stages. However, coming unstuck at the first hurdle no matter what the opposition does undermine any argument which suggests a top five ranking.

Key to achieving that would be retaining the older players, the more experienced internationals who can assist the growth of younger players. Özil spoke of Rosicky being one the best midfielders in the Premier League at the moment; you will find no qualms from me on that statement. Personally, I think when his career at Arsenal is remembered, Rosicky will be regarded fondly but also there will be a sense of being cheated, that injury robbed us of a fair portion of his prime playing years. I know the player wants to continue representing his country but the point has been reached where retirement from international football is going to further his playing career. He recently observed that the number of injuries he had suffered left his body protected to some degree from the normal wear and tear players endure; that won’t continue and with his influence when he is on the pitch, from a purely selfish perspective Arsenal need to persuade him of the merits of reducing the number of games he plays. Of course, first of all they need to agree a new deal for the player and it is reassuring that Wenger has recognised the value of his senior professionals, steering away from the ludicrous policy of abandoning over-30s to one-year deals. Gilberto Silva, at 37, is a free agent; perhaps Arsène could entice him to train with the squad, to pass on his experience. I am not suggesting that we re-sign him, simply that as with Henry, it is a valuable resource to use and a player who is respected.

Interesting times ahead and many hurdles to overcome but there is a sense that things have changed, even the nuances.

’til Tomorrow.



87 thoughts on “On Transfers, Contracts & Geriatrics

  1. YW – Nice write up.

    Can’t see us spending too much this window after our summer splurge, but who knows eh?

  2. Top of the morning to you YW. As usual, another sensible and profound well written article. Well done. There is no doubt that Draxler has potential, but the way and manner the supposed transfer is being played out in public doesn’t feel right for an Arsenal transfer. Seeing how paying his release clause(if the club is truly after him) would hilariously put Levy’s nose out of joint, the need to put the spuds in their rightful place shouldn’t be a determining factor in pursuing any transfer.
    Another fine point you made was concerning our spending power compared to that of the masters of financial doping with whom we compete. Their bottomless pockets can be countered by our pulling power and “new found wealth”. The Ozil signing would attest to your quip on the new Galactico era at Arsenal.
    A striker and a center back. My current fave tune.Calling Joel Campbell back from that loan spell may be less of a risk than most people think. That is my opinion anyway. A center back is paramount and I believe Djourou would do nicely. We should be in the top 5 ranked clubs but are not. We will get there. Patience required.

  3. I agree. I think we are at least a few years away from being on of the top clubs in Europe. we still need a good to excellent striker, an attacking midfielder and another defender. We still have some holes but with addition of Ozil we have elevated the club to very good. We will find out real fast when we take on Bayern Munich in the next round of the Champions League.

  4. Spending £37 Million on Draxler now….Could be risky! He’s out until March with a ruptured tendon! However if he comes back and storms it for Schalke then Real or Cheslea/City could step in and offer £45 to our £37. One report i saw said it was Podsolski going in the other direction to could sway it our way. I don’t think Pod’s been given his chance to shine, be a shame if that happened! Might upset Mesut as well as he seems to like having Per and Pod around!

  5. Fab post YW

    Statistically we are in the top 8 in Europe if you go by the EUFA co-efficient calculation. Doesn’t quite feel like that really, as impressions of ranking are over a much shorter time scale and lately we’ve kept losing in the round of 16 in the CL. Partly caused by lack of concentration in the group, stupid loss at home to Dortmund a perfect example) and bad draws, and then being not quite good enough in the resulting ties…. I think we might rectify that in one year if current progress is maintained… Getting into the top 4 will probably take another year….

    As to Draxler: I’ve always been impressed when I’ve seen him, converting him to a striker might be another thing. Though we mustn’t forget we sort of converted Thierry too. Also sometimes forgotten is that it took him 2 or 3 years to become the great striker he became. After being here two years he was calling for a “fox in the box”, before he realised it was him! So these things take a while, my impression of Drax is that he’s a bit more robust the TH was when he first joined.

  6. YW – thanks. Yes, particularly agree on Rosicky. I heard from somebody last week who worked at the club, can’t remember who (think via my wife), that they had personally met all the players, and that Rosicky was the nicest guy out of the all them in the squad.

    And yes, what a tragedy his injuries were. Imagine the effect on our fortunes if he had been fit during his peak years.

    Don’t believe the Levy nonsense. If true, then he’s totally deluded. We are not a rival.

  7. @Muppet

    Completely agree and hate to be a cynic, but think that if he had been fit through his peak years, he would no longer be a gunner!

  8. So, are you saying that Arsene would have sold him and given his love children at the club a bigger contract with the money, Muppet?!

    Bloody outrageous!!

  9. Yogi good post as ususal.

    I agree 100% about Mozart but I do think that we are seeing the best of him and limiting his matches will surely keep him fit and firing a tad longer. I think a player like him is what we were missing during those years when Cesc and RvP were heading for the exit door, a real match winner Rosicky is.

    Don’t see us splurging at the present moment but I do expect something to happen. Ntep’s agent said that he was in London and did speak to Arsenal about the transfer, but from there everything seems to go he said she said fuck it. I did read this morning and Arseblog as well posted that we are close to a deal for the young but very gifted striker.

  10. Consolsbob,

    Are you seriously implying that our club (Arsene FC Corporation) is a finishing school, whose primary purpose is to take in deprived raw diamonds, to be polished, and sold on for gargantuan profits ? Shame on you.

  11. Consolsbob,

    No you are not. You are stuck at the bottom of a hill near Tavistock, surrounded by chickens !

  12. Here’s one for everybody, how about we go after Schneiderlin or Wanyama from Southampton and take advantage of all the turmoil that is and will continue to take place at that club. Isn’t that something that Arsene enjoys doing

    What the hell has happened to them?

  13. Why do we need defensive midfielders when we’ve got Flamini and Arteta C ?

    Unless you are thinking about the future.

  14. Yogi:

    What a shocker. Another fantastic post. Thanks again

    TR7 has been a model player and I hope we keep him.
    We need someone who is experienced and can come off the bench after waking up on New Year’s Day after not having played for a couple of weeks and still be able to perform at top level. We saw that with Yossi Benayoun a couple of years ago. That sort of player is remarkably valuable on your squad. Someone like TR7 does not need a run of games to stay sharp.

  15. @Muppet

    I am thinking about the future. With both more not going to the World Cup, why not. Arsene seems to enjoy poaching teams in turmoil for there best players. I mean Southampton have just seen their executive chairman Nicola Cortese resigning and have put Mauricio Pochettino’s future in uncertain territory. Cortese’s replacement Katharina Liebherr may look to sell their stars depending on how they finish their season. Maybe a cheeky bid for 1 of them in the summer might do the trick but that’s only if Gonalons isn’t bought.

  16. @C,

    Well, there is precedent for this kind of opportunistic plundering (thinking of repeat trips to Malaga here). Who knows ? Do you know any more on why the chairman has fallen out with the owner ? Is it over the sanctioning of a player sale ?

  17. Yogi:

    I have never met a transfer rumor that I didn’t love and I really enjoy talking about spending Arsene’s money in very large increments. However, I am not really thrilled about Draxler. He sounds like a great talent but he is young and not even a striker. Perhaps he can be the next RVP in 3 – 4 years but what this team needs for the rest of this year and next year is the someone like Suarez or Aguero who is a finished article. It took Theo about 6 years and until his almost his mid 20’s to become a consistently effective player. Ox has incredible talent but this is his 3rd season with very little real contribution to date. Even C Ronaldo played a fringe role on some of the ManU teams for a few years before he became a legend. I have not seen him but I doubt that Draxler has more pure talent then Ox. There are exceptions but most players that age take some time to reach their potential. I am completely on board with buying players like Ox around $10M but not spending a huge portion of our transfer kitty to buy potential. Sometimes potential does not pan out. Unless we really are rich enough to buy anyone we want then we need to save our big expenditures for someone like Ozil who is a known article and can help us immediately. You never stop building for the future but at some point we have to win something today.

  18. @Muppet

    I don’t know the story just that it has happened but I will do some digging and let you know what I have found.

    I mean Malaga, Koln, Madrid; it just kind of seems to be Arsene’s thing.

  19. Why thank you Bill (flashes eyelids and blushes).

    I think it depends on how much my director is around ! If he’s out of the office, like this week, then I get some more time to come on here.

  20. @Muppet

    From what I have read after browsing around.

    It seems that after the passing of her father and former owner Marcus Liehberr in 2010, the club was left to his daughter Katharina who had both no interest in owning or wanting Southampton Futbol Club and no interest in futbol as a whole. She wanted to sell the club immediately while Nicola Cortese wanted her to give him a couple of years. Well when Owner who didn’t want the club anyways decides shes had enough and wants out, you get rid of and replace the executive chairman with, who else, yourself as she did on Tuesday.

  21. @C,

    Ok. Thanks. I thought it might have been an argument over selling Luke Shaw, but it doesn’t sound like that.

  22. @Muppet

    Actually if you think about it, Luke Shaw and the club as a whole. Some are reporting(BBC in particular) that some of the players have clauses in their contract that are directly linked to the former Chairman and the current Manager so this could get ugly.

  23. @C

    Interesting. Have you seen the Ntep story ? It has just broken on Twitter that Auxerre are saying we have agreed a fee for the player.

  24. @Muppet

    The moaning is due to the fact that he is a typical Arsene signing. He is relatively unknown, yet has been touted as a real gem. He typically plays as a LW/LAM, has pace and has some great technique. He was slated to join Real last year but it did not happen and the word from some media outlets has interest from United, City, Real, Spuds, Arsenal and Roma for the player. He will be a project, though again his pace and physical attributes actually may lend themselves to the EPL quite well. If you do watch some of the video on him, you may notice a certain similarity to a previous Arsenal player that wore the number 14.

  25. I imagine that people would have been far happier to see Costa, or his expensive like over another project. It misses the point that some of Arsene’s projects have been both productive and lucrative. I never thought for a moment that Arsene was going to spend another 40M in the January window, this type of move if it happens would be much more characteristic of our manager.

  26. @Muppet

    I was just reading about it that’s why I am just responding. Quite a signing if you ask me. Somebody that is completely different from Giroud and his pace as a main striker is absolutely terrifying for defenders to deal with from what I have seen.

  27. Miami.

    I doubt that anyone would be unhappy with Ntep as long as whatever we spend does not inhibit bringing at least one proven goal scorer who can help us win this year or next.

    The more “projects” we have the more likely a couple of them might actually end up being true impact players.

  28. @Bill

    I don’t see it as an issue with regard to getting more established players in the future at all. We need to remember that it is the start of the next season which will also see our commercial coffers grow by an additional 45-47M per annum over and above now.

    I would see this Ntep deal if struck as a stop gap either, the lad is talented and though he’ll need time to bed in he is a bright prospect. Again, the desirable trait the lad possesses is pure pace and you cannot teach someone that.

  29. Looks like the Ntep story is BS. Auxerre have issued a denial:

    Cotret: “There is no agreement with Arsenal, There is nothing. We have not even received an offer from the club.” #afc #aja

  30. Ntep……………; watched the video, thanks MA

    Looks to have the pace we need, but seems to play down the left flank, good with both feet and scores goals just as MA observes………. like a previous No 14 at Arsenal. What’s the asking price and is there a guarantee he won’t end up like another Gervinho?

  31. @Muppet & MA

    I think the thing about Ntep is that physically he seems to be able to come into the side and play against the mid to lower table clubs presently from the LW position.

    Reports are that not just this past summer where the likes of Madrid, Roma, PSG and others in for him but even this winter with PSG, Monaco and Dortmund said to have been in contact over him with PSG or Monaco have said to have made a bid.

  32. @Muppet

    It could all be complete BS, then again the club as is usual with an Arsenal agreement could be under a confidentially agreement. At the end of the day were it to happen, it’d be an interesting get. If not, then so be it.

  33. @MA

    No doubt he is a Wenger signing, not to mention Arsene seems to like calling and buying players from there i.e. Diaby, Sagna, Yaya.

  34. Miami.

    If buying Ntep won’t prevent us from getting an established goal scorer this window or next summer then let’s go get him.

  35. @MA

    Did you see that Crowley picked up yet another ankle injury. That lad really does have some glass ankles it seems.

  36. I´m thinking maybe Nik Bs done enough to force himself into wengers plans and given lack of options in the january wíndow there won´t be any strikers coming in.

    This might not be the worst thing ever as Nik B knows the setup and for many reasons may have his head in place. There´s a half decent fotballer in there somewhere and this might be his way out of last chance saloon.

    With that and Wengers friendly arm around him I would be surprised if we didn´t see a motivated Nik B (It´s easier for Nik B to get Girouds workrate than for Giroud to get Nik Bs fotballing abilities).

  37. @C

    I did, what is more it was the second defeat for the U21’s. The lad doesn’t have an extensively injury history, sometimes these things just happen and it is sad it was when he was making his U21 debut. We created more than enough to win that game but let it slip.

    Did you see that they have asked Zelalem to learn a new position? That want to play as the deep role creative player rather than his preferred more advanced role.

    Oh, and remember in the summer how I was big upping the young lad Willock? will Arsene has/had asked to attend 1st team training sessions 🙂 He is a first year scholar, makes for some wonderful experience for the lad and shows just how much Arsene likes him.

  38. @C

    Maitland-Niles, O’Connor, Crowley and Moore have all been called up to the England U17’s training camps as well.

  39. Miami.

    If we are really getting an extra 45M next year then we should go get someone who can help us right now. Not sure who might be available but transfers are paid out over several years and it sounds like we will have plenty of money available in the next few years to cover any business we do now.

  40. @MA

    I was just typing about Zelalem playing that deeper midfield role. I wouldn’t be adverse to him in that role because of his range of passing and his calm demeanor.

    I know especially with young players that injuries, especially ankles come at quite a rapid clip when you play the way that Crowley plays where he is constantly driving and beating players. Maybe he should watch Santi and Mozart ride challenges, just make sure he doesn’t watch Jack do it ;).

    I heard Willock got called up but couldn’t confirm it so I didn’t want to post. Such a smooth player and seems to be very good with both his left and right foot. Seems to be another one in a line of players that we need to be keeping our eyes on in the youth setup.

  41. @Bill

    You tend to make it sound like the NFL salary cap. The assumption is that we cannot just keep spending money because either we don’t have enough or we’ll create issues with the FFP rules. Hell, I don’t know. What we do know is that Chelsea only just qualified after some dodgy accounting provisions for youth development and infrastructure something a rathers… Now, FFP may be toothless, I don’t know but qualifying by a mere 3M doesn’t leave a whole lot of margin for Chelsea and they have a similar revenue to our own. Anyway, that is all a guess.

  42. Muppet – “It has just broken on Twitter that Auxerre are saying we have agreed a fee for the player”.


  43. @MA

    I know it is good for them and congratulations that they all god called up but not really a big fan of the England National team setup.

  44. @MA

    Strangely enough, if the Chavs have just barely qualified with the FFP by a mere 3M, what is to happen now that they have spent 21M+ on Matic. Though I would assume that De Bruyne is on his way out but I doubt that he will come close to what they spent on Matic. I have thought all along and as you said, FFP is very toothless.

  45. Ntep certainly will block Gnabry and maybe even move Ox down the depth chart. Not a problem for me, but that’s an issue for those of us who are concerned about that sort of thing.

  46. @Bill

    You could will be right, more so if he actually played on the right side of midfield 🙂

  47. Bill – He is a striker so won’t block Ganbry/AOC. More likey he will contest for the back up striker role with Sonogo.

    I am like you though, “blocking” a player is not an issue. The best players will play and if that is at the expense of a player who offers the side less, so be it.

  48. Southampton manager staying at club, gotta say he is a breath of fresh air.
    I like the way he sets up the team and they play decent football. His after match comments are not the usual tripe and don’t lose anything in translation, but lost of executive chairman is a big blow to Southampton s progress

  49. @GA

    “I am like you though, “blocking” a player is not an issue. The best players will play and if that is at the expense of a player who offers the side less, so be it.”

    Could not agree more, of course the subjectivity of whom the best player is to add that something to the squad will remain open to debate.

  50. Andy.

    As long as Ntep and Sonogo will not stop Arsene from buying someone like Aguero. An extra $45M in Arsene’s wallet puts someone like Falcoa on the radar. I heard he is not real happy in France. He might want to play for Arsene. Never know till we try.

    Gooooooooooooooooo Arsene.

  51. @GA & MA

    We should all know that Arsene will let the best player or his best XI play regardless of position 😉

  52. @MA

    Ntep does look as though he has the makings of a CF/central striker. Another thing that I noticed was how bloodie strong he is on the ball, everything that I have seen of him, he rarely gets knocked off the ball and when he does, its because he has been fouled.

  53. @C

    Yes, but he is young and that means he isn’t ready to help the Arsenal. Perhaps if we can find him a loan until he is 24/25 and then bring him back 🙂

    In all seriously, he looks interesting. His pace/speed is not something you can teach and yet is an immensely desirable attribute in a player. I like he is direct, or more direct and that could be a boon in a team where almost everyone prefers to pass. Still, it isn’t done and may not be done at all so I’ll reserve judgment until it is concrete.

  54. @MA

    I know we will see if and when it is all signed up and everything is finalized.

    Not sure if I would send him out on loan, though raw, his pace, direct, and talent might lend him a stay as a LW/striker since clearly Podolski isn’t in the plans(that remains to be seen).

  55. Speaking of, did you see that Ramsey, Arteta, Nacho, Verm could all very much be out for the Fulham match. We would then only have Jenks as a 1st team member defender available with possibly Hayden being called up.

  56. @C

    Ntep may be an interesting prospect, but so is Joel Campbell and we also hold his rights. Both possess speed and technique, both are 21 years old yet the latter is a full international and playing for a CL team in Olympiakos.

    Campbell in plying his trade from the wider position, has scored 6 in 13 starts and an additional 4 sub appearances. You would have to conclude the latter is the more ready based upon the old metric of experience.

  57. @MA

    That could very well be true but then if that is the case then Campbell should be here and Gnabry and for that matter Ox should be on loan and Campbell should be running on our flanks 😉 lol.

  58. @C


    Fabianski/Jenks/Santi/Ox/Park/Hayden and one other… not sure if Zelalem is still on international duty or not.

  59. Miami @ 4:56

    “but he is young and that means he isn’t ready to help the Arsenal. Perhaps if we can find him a loan until he is 24/25 and then bring him back”

    I knew you could be taught. I really like the way you think. 😉

  60. @C

    “That could very well be true but then if that is the case then Campbell should be here and Gnabry and for that matter Ox should be on loan and Campbell should be running on our flanks 😉 lol.”

    The plan in the summer is to spend 150M on three more players and send these on loan until they are old enough to contribute more 🙂 lol

    I think Campbell has or is eligible for his work permit now. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be wanted or sold this summer, but he does only have a year left. I cannot imagine any loan being suitable for either Gnabry or Ox because both can and have contributed for Arsenal this year already.

  61. @MA

    That is actually the lineup I was thinking about for Fulham since it seems everybody is out injured.

    Glad your seeing how Arsene has changed with his budget and his youth. The only reason Gnabry was given a chance was because he is German and Arsene has quite a love affair with Germans at present ;). I’m pretty sure Reus and Khederia are on their way plus whoever else he wants to buy.

    I think Campbell is after his international caps plus his loans in Spain and now Greece. I think should we actually bring somebody in, more than likely we will see Campbell sold. The thing with Ox and Gnabry is that once Theo is back fit, one of them will find it hard to get match time when Theo starts as both won’t make the bench thus Campbell looks set to be the odd man out of the bunch.

  62. C says:
    January 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm
    The only reason Gnabry was given a chance was because he is German and Arsene has quite a love affair with Germans at present 😉
    Nothing to do with him being a more than decent player then?

  63. @Buckagh

    Nope, not at all mate! Strictly because he combines old Arsene with new Arsene loves…..Young(old Arsene) and German(new Arsene)!

  64. Joel Campbell certainly has put in his time on loan and it sounds like he has done well enough that he really deserves a chance unless there is something else about him that we don’t know.

    It would seem the loan spells have done him a lot of good. I doubt he really could have helped the club or even had any significant playing time in the last couple of seasons if he had been able to get a work permit and stay with the club. Logic would argue that his abilities, maturity and his ability to help any team are a lot more advanced now then if he had not been on loan. No?

  65. @peacefrog

    She has certainly brought a renewed spirit to the Arsenal Ladies and fans alike. Fans have taken to her as they did Ozil when we signed him.

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