The Premier League’s unilateral closing of the transfer window won’t make much difference, Arsène thinks. If the whole of Europe does the same, it’s a different ballgame. I suspect we will see moves toward that in bigger leagues during the next year.
Were that change in place now, we’d be a bit stuffed. Lumbered even, with a fringe on the squad bigger than Phil Oakey’s in his prime. Which explains the sale of Gabriel to Valencia. The fee vexes some almost as much as the gap it leaves in the squad but points to several issues.
Firstly, he had two years remaining on his contract. An acceptable offer received for a squad player won’t be turned down. £10m seems low but it isn’t particularly when you look at deals below the elite clubs. Domestic fees are always higher; it’s nothing new this season but the new-found wealth of the Premier League collectively sent them through the roof.
Second, if we can’t shift the fringe players, how else do we balance the books? Make no mistake, the proclamations over Alexis and Özil come at a cost but so does not moving on Gibbs, Jenkinson and Debuchy, although the latter is interesting Marseille. Arsenal still need to raise transfer revenue to contribute to the purchases.
Finally, it’s down to Wenger’s belief in giving youth a chance. Rob Holding is in the side on merit and while I’m not sure Arsène is convinced by Calum Chambers, Krystian Bielik is touted as the next to step up. We need space in the squad if that’s the case and you know what Arsène thinks about “killing” careers.
Stoke Team News & Alexis
Injuries made the situation seem worse than it was. Mertesacker is available once more and enjoying a resurgence in his popularity thanks to the cup final, helped along by his ascendency to the coaching staff next summer. Shkodran Mustafi also returns to the squad for this weekend’s match, as does Francis Coquelin. Jack Wilshere, one of those many think will move on, is fit once more. He will continue his rehab in the Under-23s for a few more matches yet.
Alexis won’t be there, he is set to return at Anfield where this season, he hopefully won’t be a substitute as we seek to overturn a first half deficit. The Chilean’s future dominated proceedings. There was no progress on his contract renewal Arsène declared and to be honest, I doubt that there will be until next summer.
January changes the game completely with offers from the continent likely to come in, which will be a bargaining tool with whichever clubs he and his agent want to talk to. Arsenal will be blown out of the water financially. The time to renew, you feel, passed long ago. Arsenal took their eye off the ball on the pitch and in squad strengthening. We’re now harvesting the seeds sown in previous summers.
Arsène, once again, is more astute than the board, positioning himself as a purely football man. If Alexis is sold now, it’s down to the directors, not him. Next summer, when funds aren’t available to replace Sanchez, as well as Özil and Ox, the directors are the problem once again. It’s their job to back the manager financially, making funds available. All the noises from Wenger are that this decision won’t affect next summer; is it too late for the board to protect their credibility?
It’s Getting Chile In Here
That list is around £125m long and that’s on top of the holes left by others leaving due to age – Per – or better offers elsewhere.
Asked whether the financial cost – “sacrifice” – was known, Wenger declared that it is not as big as it seems,
It is a financial sacrifice. It is a sacrifice that you have to calculate how much it costs. If you let the player go and you buy somebody you spend maybe more than you lose. And as well if you extend the contracts it costs you maybe more than you lose when you keep the player. So you have to consider the length of the contract as well that the players want. So all that is in consideration, the financial sacrifice is not as heavy as it looks.
Football maths is easy: the player leaves on a free and zero fees come in. Buying a new player means fees payable but if you extend, there are costs as well so the gap between the two is not necessarily as high as you think. Wages as well; the new signing wants a significant pay rise but so does the retained player; who gets more.
In the end, you can’t calculate the imponderables until after the event. You can estimate and Arsenal will lose out, on the pitch and financially. Will we sign a better players? Not impossible but it’s not something answered definitively without hindsight.
While managers are required to take note of economics these days, it’s less important in most clubs as it’s someone else’s responsibility. I read somewhere yesterday – I think it was a beIN Sport interview – that Wenger thinks the days of the “football specialist” as manager are numbered with “general management specialists” set to take over, surrounding themselves with an army of advisors.
Regrets, I’ve Had A Few (But I’m Not Telling You About Them)
Asked about whether the situation is reminiscent of Robin Van Persie (it is), Wenger pointed to the finances as the main difference. He doesn’t admit to regrets over selling the Dutchman but yes, Arsène, he was the main reason United won the title that season; it’s not “difficult to assess”, we all know that. Not that it’s going to turn out the same way; Wenger’s optimistic that all the contract rebels will stay and why on earth would they want to leave…
A final call this morning for the Peter Hook fest on Dad’s Jukebox. The technically challenging 2004 Times of our Lives post arrives on Friday, along with the blogger formerly known as Darius’ thoughts.