Alexis & Mesut Staying, Early Stoke News & Gabi-gone – Why?

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.

’til Tomorrow.

54 thoughts on “Alexis & Mesut Staying, Early Stoke News & Gabi-gone – Why?

  1. Perfect summing up of the reduce headcount policy the club is currently enduring.

    Bielik may be the future but he’s a long way behind Gabriel now & football is all about now these days.

    Still, £10M is about to roll in & will surely go towards imminent investment.

  2. No idea who Phil Oakey Cokey is but if the transfer window was finished before the start of the season, it might make Arsenal a bit quicker off the mark in making deals to dispose of unwanted players.

    We seem to have picked up some OK-ish players over the year, but they now look like what they are – in football terms – bargain basement buys, and now it is a bargain basement sale Arsenal are forced into.

    It is always the case in life, as most people know, that you buy the best quality within your price range. If you have to sell, you will find the quality object can appreciates sale price or at least hold it’s original value on disposal.

    Buy Cheap – the usage is variable – and the resale is crap. Not that Arsenal seem to worry about that until the shock of seeing the low bids coming in for ‘treasured’ players.
    That’s where the disposal bottle neck originates.

  3. HenryB,

    Phil Oakey famously sung “Don’t you want me?” which may be a tune that Gabriel is singing to Wenger right now, although I doubt that either has ever worked as a waitress in a cocktail bar prior to joining Arsenal.

  4. From F365:

    Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has reiterated his intention to one day buy Arsenal.

    Dangote, Africa’s richest man with a fortune of around $13billion, outlined his wish to purchase the Gunners, who he supports, back in September.

    He now thinks he can tempt current owner Stan Kroenke into doing business, despite the American insisting he is not looking to sell.

    Kroenke owns 67% of the Gunners currently, with Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov claiming a 30% stake.

    But Dangote says he is intent on purchasing a majority share in the near future, after the construction of an $11billion oil refinery in Lagos is completed

    “The first thing I would change is the coach,” Dangote told Bloomberg. “He has done a good job, but someone else should also try his luck.

    “If they get the right offer, I’m sure they would walk away. Someone will give them an offer that will make them seriously consider walking away.

    “And when we finish the refinery, I think we will be in a position to do that.”

  5. Good morning Yogi and others. Nothing much of immediate interest in the way of Arsenal related news so it’s back to Crime and Punishment for me. it’s surprising how well Dostoevsky can hold the interest in these dog days of late summer.

    The first ever day/night test match to be held in England starts this PM, in my opinion one of the sillier “innovations” introduced to breathe some life into the senior game.

    Playing with pink balls, how very 21st century.

  6. Orson Kaert,

    I heard one cricket pundit on the radio this morning, explaining that that pink balls will not help the bowlers as they only swing for a short time due to the dye. So no swinging under the lights this evening!

    Which is very unlike certain parts of Edgbaston….according to a friend of mine – Police, vice, say no more.

  7. Wasn’t Gabriel purchased on the back of the stats machine that Gazidis bought? Possibly Wenger grabbing more power back from Flaccid Ivan. The ZX Spectrum has been disconnected and thrown in the cupboard.

    Wenger’s had enough of the Electric Dreams.

  8. andy1886,

    He’s merely moved the tippy tappy from the midfield to the defence, it’s why Holding got in such a mess against Leicester. If you’re a defender under pressure close to your own goal hoof the ball as far up-field as possible and into touch thus making time to regroup.

  9. Orson Kaert,

    Yeah, I heard that he wanted Holding to be the CB that plays the ball out of defence. Nuts really, the lad is still learning so let him concentrate on being the best defender he can be first before giving him an additional role to perform.

  10. andy1886,

    Certainly seemed like that during the game as the other players were passing to him to play out. Wenger likes to see one CB as the ball distributor, but not sure why he wants Holding to play it out when he should be passing it. Per was always the guy to make the pass out of defence when he was a regular starter, with Kos often passing to Per who would then play it forward. Per would bring it forward a little way, but didn’t usually risk being caught in possession.

  11. Wenger has done a great job of shifting the blame onto others in advance. If Sanchez, or Ox goes this summer it won’t be Wenger’s fault. The guy who has influence over every single aspect of the running of the club will not have a say? It doesn’t seem very likely.

  12. andy1886:
    HenryB,
    Phil Oakey famously sung “Don’t you want me?” which may be a tune that Gabriel is singing to Wenger right now, although I doubt that either has ever worked as a waitress in a cocktail bar prior to joining Arsenal.

    One can never be too sure. There’s plenty of dudes working as cocktail waitresses in Copacabana Beach. Lord knows what Gabriel did prior to football.

  13. Great post Yogi

    Its looking more and more like Alexis might stay although I would still not be surprised with a last second sale.

    We talked about this yesterday but its difficult to move players like Gibbs, Wilshere, Debuchy, Joel Campbell, Lucas Perez. The big teams who can comfortably pay the sort of wages they are on don’t want them because they are not good enough. Smaller teams where they might be able to play regularly are understandably reluctant to commit to a long term high dollar contract that would make OK but not difference making players like Debuchy, Gibbs or Perez one of their higher paid players. It will be easier to find a team that is willing to take them on loan for a year if we subsidize wages and that way they don’t have to commit to the long term.

  14. Andy

    Good one. Had not thought about Phil Oakley in a long time. A few of our players are probably telling Arsene they can find a much better place either with or without you.

  15. One of the stranger moves that Arsene has made in recent years was signing Joel Campbell to a new contract which probably made him almost unsellable.

  16. Yogi

    I have to admit tha I am usually not very good about figuring out how the picture fits into the theme of the post but today’s was one the easier ones. Trading Places was a great movie.

  17. Thanks for the post. Welldone.

    Moving Gabriel out is a good thing I believe – he never really reached heights with us and Chambers looks mature now (also HG). Chambers should stay I believe – along with Holding and Per or Bielik forms a 2nd CB for us (Monreal, Kos and Mustafi being Unit 1).

    Arsene making Alexis & Ox stay is great. He’s paid the price for low budget in the past (by allowing the sale of best players), so I think he’s earned the rights of calling the sporting shots now. If the guys signed along the way, good, if not, OK…once they build up on their performances from last season (we’re good).

    I’m sure the club management will have some kind of plan in place to assuage possible exits next summer. We have a number of guys coming through and buying additional players is definitely going to happen. Let’s wait till this season unravels.

    I have reasons for optimism with this team…
    Alexis, Lacazette, Giroud, Walcott – 4 guys with goal records of double figures. Two distinct units of CBs. The midfield is looking good, however Xhaka needs the correct balance alongside.

    Irrespective of issues with the guys on the fringes…. I think I’ll enjoy the football, good or bad results.

    Wenger has some tough gameday decisions to make as regards midfield combination…
    He’s in the driving seat for another two years – don’t get wound up with him cos he’s likely got your number.

  18. If Gabriel does leave AW has to IMHO go out and buy a new defender. Kos has 2 years at most left at this level. Per will retire at the end of the Season. That leaves us with Mustafi and Holding.

    The Spuds buying Sanches from Ajax have yet again stolen a march on us in this particular area. They in my mind will have 3 of the ‘best Central Defenders – Toby Alberderweild – Jan Vertonghen and Sanches.

  19. “Jose Mourinho is reportedly considering Monaco winger Thomas Lemar after failing to land Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo.

    The claim comes from Duncan Castles, who appears to have a direct line to the Manchester United manager.

    He says that United would be able to sign the France international for £54.5m, with the spin that he ‘would be less expensive in terms of salary and command superior potential resale value than the 28-year-old (Ivan) Perisic’.

    Arsenal have long been linked with Lemar but reports on Sunday said that the Gunners had given up on Lemar after the asking price went north of £50m.

    There are obviously no such concerns at United, who were prepared to pay far more for either Bale or Ronaldo.”

  20. Apart from Liverpool and Chelsea last weekend none of our competitors conceded any goals. if my recollections from last season are correct AFC let in more goals than other any of our ” Competitors” last season.

    ” IF” we are to seriously challenge this season the midfield and defence truly has to be given the attention it deserves by AW. Si no there will be aucun change. It will be the same old same old same old. On our day we will be able to beat anybody but we know our day(s) are not always going to happen.

    Speaking of the midfield A Ramsey sadly cannot be relied on for a full season. His ability to stay fit is questionable. He also is not a ” Classic” CDM that we ” need” along side Xhakia. Is AW waiting for Santi like he did with Diaby and Rosicky?

    ” IF” AW seriously want to get back into the Top 4 and mount a serious challenge for the title this year then this is not the year when AW takes “Chances” or” Gambles” with the squad. It is as simple as that.

  21. andy1886,

    You never know, Wenger might blow £100m+ buying Lemar and an established CB, like van Dijk, in the next week or so…..

    *YAWN *STRETCH

    Sorry chaps, I just dropped off and had the most peculiar dream….

  22. I don’t mind Gabriel going and Chambers being pushed up the list following his performances for Boro and England babies. Only that’s not Wenger’s game plan. He’s made noises that he is happy with Holding, Per, Kos, Nacho and Sead as CBs with Chambers also on his way out. So we are going to rely on two LBs plus a player in his final season before retirement and a player with a long term injury being managed daily. We conceded 3 goals against a team who are a shadow of the title winning group of 2 seasons ago and are one injury away from a disaster.

  23. Congratulations to the England Women’s Rugby Union team for reaching the World Cup semi-finals by handing the USA a 47 – 26 thrashing.

    Well done ladies!

  24. Selling Gabriel to me is a bit baffling giving what we have seen and know so far. I think the situation is pretty clear to everybody: Mert retiring, Kos the constant walking wounded and is aging which doesn’t bode well for a CB that relies purely on pace and quickness, Mustafi will come good, Holding looks promising and hopefully will continue to develop and Chambers is well, we don’t know because he should have been in teh squad and playing but didn’t and hopefully he will play against Stoke.

  25. andy1886,
    Wavey,

    Agree that it was strange watching Holding be the passer of the defenders especially with Nacho in the team who is probably one of the best passers in the squad. Mert and Mustafi are clearly tailor made for that position with Chambers being next in line. I think they all understand not only when to push forward a bit then release it but are all ball-playing CB’s by nature.

  26. Interesting to see Draxlers name popping up again, i’d have him in a heartbeat! Be what we’re missing sometimes in that midfield, a bit of a spark and creativity.

  27. Gabriel has landed in Spain as pictures have emerged of him in Spain headed to Valencia to have his medical and finalize the deal.

  28. Hearts and minds are with those in Barcelona right now after the terror attack has left 13 dead and 50 injured verified so far.

  29. Just seen a blatent disregard for the rules in the Everton game. A Split player is ‘injured’ in a tackle and the trainer comes on to administer the magic spray. The player then gets back onto his feet and continues on in the game. The ref should have ordered the player to the sidelines and then waved him back into play once the game had restarted, but he didn’t.

    I believe the rule is:

    if the referee has authorised the doctors and /or stretcher bearers to enter
    the field of play, the player must leave on a stretcher or on foot. A player who
    does not comply, must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour.

    I’m sure Henry will let me know. 😆

  30. C,

    I’m with you in that. A tragedy, but these scum cannot win. Terrible that a simple motor vehicle is being used as a terrorist’s weapon. It looks like bollards and fencing are likely to become the norm in any pedestrianised area.

  31. Wavey,

    Agree with you on that, they can’t win. Its a shame that the pedestrianized areas aren’t safe but we can’t let them stop us from enjoying and going out.

  32. A few years ago I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours wandering along Las Ramblas, such a shame that it has been used as a site to target innocent people by cowardly, homicidal maniacs.

    My thoughts are with the bereaved and injured together with their families and friends .

  33. As soon as we heard about Neymar, I had a feeling the Draxler to Arsenal rumors would resurface. PSG need to clear out some underperforming assets also.

  34. C

    Draxler is a good example of why I think it would be a mistake for Barca to go after Dembele as their Neymar replacement. The Drax was the most highly rated and heavily hyped young prospect in European football for several years. He might still come good but even the worlds best professional talent evaluators can’t predict which players are going to come good and when. No one could have predicted how good Harry Kane would be. Goetze is another example of a player rated as a can’t miss prospect who never really came very close to reaching his predicted potential.

  35. As a paid up member of the Free Perez movement, I couldn’t help noticing this comment by Arsene:

    “There’s a possibility [he could leave this month],” said the boss. “I opened the door for him because I have many strikers. If he finds a good opportunity, I will help him.”

    “a possibility … opened the door …”

    I think this further confirms that Arsene ain’t sure whether he wants to let Perez go and is dicking everybody around, including Perez. Stick or twist, Arsene. It’s your job.

  36. Freddo

    Who knows what to believe but that sounds to me like Arsene is telling Perez and his agent to see if they can find an opportunity that would give him a chance to play and pay him the wages he needs and Arsene would try to work out a transfer or loan.

  37. My guess is that it will be difficult to find a team that would have a situation where Perez would get a lot of high leverage minutes but still pay close to the wages he is probably getting right now.

  38. Morning, Wavey, 🙂

    Your comment @ 8:42 pm

    You are spot on regarding FIFA Law 5 – Injured Players

    I guess referees can suffer occasional memory loss with all the Laws and rules.

  39. Bill, Perez’s agent has already made it clear that Perez will play at Deportivo if the transfer fee can be agreed. That is obvious. Yet Arsene is saying no to 12 million euros.

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