Long-term economic factors; that’s a good footballing reason, isn’t it? There’s nothing like it to focus the mind. Arsenal, according to a flawed opinion piece in The Guardian, do a lot of such thinking. Perhaps more than most; a legacy of the Emirates build or just a sign of the times?
The club is applying that thinking to Alexis’ situation and the over-riding factor for not selling him is “long-term economic factors”. Mainly getting back the £40m in Champions League revenue but also because we know we can’t buy his replacement for the £50m fee we’d recoup if PSG decided to put in a formal offer.
Hopefully you’re way ahead of me on the sums here. We’re not selling for £50m because we can’t replace Alexis for him for that so we pay, say, £75m, which is a net £25m spend in my rudimentary thinking. Which is £50m better than the £75m we pay next summer with no offset. A summer where we may need to replace other players who are out of contract as well.
Long-term economic thinking, my Arsenal. We’ve been told Thomas Lemar isn’t for sale, or isn’t for sale at a price we want to pay, while Kylian Mbappe is staying put or going to Real Madrid. Or PSG. In short, we can’t replace Alexis this summer at a price we’re willing to pay so he’s another one staying put. If either of those situations change, his will as well.
All of which is a backdrop to Arsène’s comments yesterday in Shanghai. Or today, it’s too early to fathom the nuances of the time zones. He’s staying put – Alexis and Wenger, for that matter – because “the decision has been made and we’ll stick to that.”
Making Your Mind Up
The situation isn’t comparable to Robin van Persie’s apparently. It is because the player is disillusioned for exactly the same reasons: not winning the Premier League or competing for the Champions League. At least van Persie had been part of a decent challenge for both; Alexis is stuck in the same timewarp we inhabit.
It’s beyond Groundhog Day, too nightmarish and surreal to be explainable. Irrespective of our position in the group we meet Bayern or Barcelona and exit stage left. The gallows humour of one of them dropping into the Europa League is too uncomfortable to be funny.
There’s no two ways about it but playing pretty football and winning nothing is as unappealing to the players we have and want to attract, as playing less attractive football and still not winning the title. Whether title challenges would change Alexis’ mind is another matter. I don’t know the answer; I guess it would depend on how close we were coming to being champions and who we lost out to.
Arsène didn’t mention the Europa League next season. Asked about whether being out of the Champions League, he failed to mention next year’s adventures at all. Not once, almost steering a bizarre course to avoid it when answering a question about whether not being in the Champions League improves our Premier League chances.
The Land Of Make Believe
Wenger is adamant we are “open” to strengthening the squad still. That’s Arsène-speak for no-one else is arriving. He said at the tail-end of last season that two or three would arrive. Increasingly, it looks like the former and now the process of balancing the books is under way.
A £6m bid from Sampdoria for Jack Wilshere was rejected but he’s been told he can ‘do one’. Palace on loan is a possibility but the club prefer a sale, which is one of the quickest media u-turns in Arsenal’s history. There’s no desire on their part to extend his deal; recouping the cash is all that’s needed.
Wojo, meanwhile, completes his move to Juventus today. His fall from grace is complete as he joins the Italian champions and last season’s Champions League runners-up. Hell of a fall to move to a bigger club…
All the while, Mesut Özil weaves his patterns on the pitch and his contract situation slips under the radar. Talks will be held in London, he said last week. No definite commitment on the outcome and the way life is, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he left next summer while Alexis stayed put.
Plenty would say that’s a good deal and it’s a head-scratcher if you take think about the straw man argument of one stays and one goes. Both have their flaws and bring something worthy of note to the table. Alexis grabs the goals and assists but with Alexandre Lacazette arriving, are the goals going to be shifting toward the central striker, making creativity a more valuable asset in the supporting cast?
Not that it will happen. It won’t, will it…?