Mhiki-tears-one and Ramsey: Lost in Contract Mess or Staying Put?

After the euphoria of Thursday night’s rout, the comedown was very quick indeed. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has torn one, with his medial ligament damage reportedly keeping him out for a few weeks. To all intents and purposes, if the injury is as bad as feared his season is over with only six weeks remaining in this one.

Arsène said:

“Micki came off and he will be out for Sunday. He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We’ll know more about that soon. For how long he will be out, I don’t know.”

While his signing was underwhelming in the sense of his Old Trafford career, his performances show how badly mismanaged the Armenian was by Mourinho. No-one is surprised by this; the Portuguese has form in this department.

Mkhitaryan is proving a valuable link player from the wing. While rampaging and running riot in the way he did at Dortmund in his final season there, he’s proving a more than useful asset in attack and giving the side much-needed balance. A bit like Gilberto Silva: you miss him when he’s not there.

That leaves Arsène with a headache. My immediate reaction is that Iwobi will take his place. Wenger likes the Nigeria international despite his failings; the foibles of youth are tolerated by Wenger more than most managers.

Wenger’s options aren’t limited as such. He has a number of players who can fulfil different functions in the team. There would be little surprise, for example, if Kolasinac played in Moscow to shore up the left side. With Arsenal, a 4 – 1 lead is the equivalent of 1 – 0 for the top sides. It’s going to be a bit harum-scarum if CSKA score in the first 20 minutes.

It would be nice if we pulled out an altogether sensible performance; we can dream.

Insert ‘Rambo First Blood’ Quip Here

Contracts resurfaced again, this time in the wake of Aaron Ramsey’s flicked volley which was better in every respect, than Ronaldo’s overhead kick in Turin.

The Welshman will be the last member of the British core at the club when Jack Wilshere inevitably leaves this summer. A contrived marketing ploy to give a sense of identity to the club, the British core is consigned to the same bin as Project Youth.

Arsenal have a decision to make over Ramsey if it hasn’t already been taken. He’s a marmite player. There are those of us who see his value, others dislike the Welshman, some very intensely to point of being irrational about him. It’s nowhere near as vile as disgusting as the way Chelsea fans treated Paul Canoville but it’s not going to surprise me if someone thinks we only beat CSKA 2 – 1.

The opinion on his value to the club rests with Wenger and execs. It’s a test for both parties. If Arsène wants Ramsey to stay, those responsible must break the bank, but how much backing does the manager have? Will Huss Fahmy be instructed to keep the player no matter the cost?

For now, Fahmy has mixed results. Mesut Özil leveraged Arsenal over a barrel in a deal that tellingly, no-one else matched. Jack Wilshere has one foot out of the door. In both cases, you can find critics and supporters of the deal.

We couldn’t afford to lose Özil so caved in while we’re prepared to lose Jack and that’s fine, it’s been taken (I hope) on sporting grounds. My criticism is that we ought to have signed a new deal with him to get a decent fee. And he could command £20-25m which is better than nada.

Aim, Point, Fire! Fire! Shoot the Foot Before Its Gets Away!

We didn’t do that and lose out unless Wilshere agrees to terms which were previously unacceptable. My feeling is he’s gone, and the club deserves criticism for mishandling the situation and losing a fee. It’s all very well proclaiming a self-sufficient model but if you handle contracts in an amateurish way, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Ramsey has to sign this summer or be sold. He’s at the peak of his career so there’s no point in getting to an Alexis-type situation. We lost £30m on that deal so all told, Arsenal are set to lose around £50m in fees in one twelve-month period. We can’t compete when the club is making those kinds of errors. And most certainly, we can’t afford to lose the £40m Ramsey might bring in if he won’t sign a new deal.

There are a number of other players we must look at as well. Ospina is out of contract in 2019, Cech too; new goalkeeper this summer, anyone?

With this kind of overhaul – Mertesacker retiring, question marks over Koscielny’s fitness, other contracts – the decision over Wenger’s own future is of paramount importance. We’re at a point where a new manager should come in and point the club in the direction he wants to go. Wenger is unlikely to be here beyond this contract so it needs a brave decision from Enos.

Is he brave enough to take it? Empty seats suggest he might have to be.

’til Tomorrow.

25 thoughts on “Mhiki-tears-one and Ramsey: Lost in Contract Mess or Staying Put?

  1. If the Ox was worth £35-40m then £40m for Ramsey would be an absolute steal. It’s absolutely remarkable that a club that prides itself on financial prudence can fail so often to do the basics like manage player contracts successfully.

  2. Morning All

    Not Ramsey’s biggest fan, but when he gets it right, it looks good, but he still gives the ball away to easily and often imo, if he were to play for another manager, I’m sure we would see the best of him more often.
    The AW conundrum, I can’t make my mind up as to whether he stays or is eased out. The empty seats on Thursday night on top of previous matches might be the tipping point if it continues until we can “judge” him in May.

  3. Difficult to see Kroenke paying out up to £10 million in compensation to Wenger if Wenger wants to stay (which he does). Wenger might (perhaps, very slim chance) go if a national team management offer came after the World Cup, but it’s unlikely as that will come too soon before the season starts and the Europa League qualifying round occurs (or perhaps if we are in dream land, the CL qualifying round). Overall, unless Arsenal get beaten in Moscow and exit the EL (unlikely), Wenger has already done enough to stay one more year (at least). Groan.

  4. If Arsenal reach and win the final of the Europa, that will have qualified us for next season’s CL.
    If that happens and Arsene Wenger stays for his final year, I hope all this doom and gloom criticism will cease and next season will bring 100% support for him and those who wear the shirt. There has been far too much bitter whining and paranoia about him this season. 😉

  5. Great post yogi.

    I agree with you and Andy. Arsene took over managing contracts at the same time he took over every other aspect of football operations around the time that David Dein left. The board handed Arsene a blank canvas to paint whatever picture he wanted with the club’s football operations and the socialistic wage scale was part of his plan to rebuild the way football clubs were managed. It was terrible idea and the mess that we have seen with ur contract situation in the latter half of this decade has even worse. In truth there is no way be human could have done everything arsene tried to do and done any of those jobs well. Being field manager is a full time job and then you add the job of director of football and contract manager etc etc and Arsene was trying to do 3-4 full time jobs all at the same time and his ability to perform at each time of those jobs was bound to suffer and we can see the results.

  6. Regarding Mkhitraryan, I think we always over rate players who by happenstance come into the side when we start one of our annual false dawns. Le Coq was the classic example and he suddenly morphed from a journeyman into the worlds best defense mid because his first run of games coincided with the clubs really strong run of form in 2015. Same thing happened with Alex Iwobe when Arsene handed him the starting left wide forward job last season. He was going to be the next great thing but the reality was he looked a lot better then he really was because of everyone on the team looked good.

    Having Mkhitaryan has worked out so far but I think we would have gone on this run of form with or without him because we specialize in these annual “false dawns”. The head rush that comes from the brilliant win on Thursday is similar to winning the FA cup last year which raises expectations but realistically I think our 2 most recent games against Man City when we lost by a combined 1-6 is probably a more accurate indication of where we are as team. I don’t think there is any way we can win consistently over the course of a season with the lack of firepower we have when Ozil and Mkhitaryan are 2/3 of our forward line.

  7. Regarding Ramsey he is another conundrum. If he consistently played like he did last Thursday then he would not divide opinions. I think he is perhaps one of the more talented players on the team and in the right system he could be excellent. I think if you put him in the #10 position on a team like Liverpool that consistently plays the game at pace he would suddenly become a true world class center mid. However, in our slower paced system he becomes much less effective. The reality is that most teams in the PL only play 4 attacking players. If we have Ozil Mkhitaryan and Ramsey then that takes up 3 of our attacking positions and its unlikely that any of those 3 are going to be much of threat to score double digit league goals which leaves us with only one position for an actual scorer and that leaves us extremely short of firepower. The math just does not work.

  8. The advantage that Ramsey gives us is he offers a more of goal scoring threat from midfield then anyone else on our squad. He is unlikely to become the next Frank Lampard that we all hoped for but if he could avoid muscular injuries and actually play 35 league games then he would be a threat to score 10 league goals. Having a goal scoring threat in midfield would go some way towards helping to balance our lack of firepower from Ozil and Mkhitaryan in the forward line.

  9. I don’t think there is a likelihood of Wenger leaving . He wants to stay and Stan Kroenke wants him to stay. Unless Josh has very strong views contradicting those of his Dad and has been given licence to oversee Arsenal the relatively poor performance will be spun quite differently. Arsene made a horlicks of the Sanchez decision and got lucky and is getting us into difficulties with Wilshere and Ramsey.
    The Marsh dwellers up the road pay much less than we do and are starting to have problems but manage people out of the club and get renewals done effectively. Their financial management is way better than ours. If Wenger manages to win the Europa League he will be painted as a hero by the board and another two year contract might even be in the offing ( don’t scoff it is that serious!) .
    I’d love us to win in Lyon and get back into the CL but it might ultimately exacerbate the problems we have . It’s a sad form of Hobson’s Choice and will precipitate more turmoil the first time we have a bad result next season.

  10. nicky,

    We all want to win the EL, but it is really time to move on. Wenger has been consistent in only one thing: a slow decline in our club standard. Once upon a time, we were compared with Barcelona. No more. We have slipped below Spuds and that decline is not going to be halted with Wenger staying. The stresses and pressure of management at the top tier is now beyond Wenger – he wants to handle every aspect of the club and that is no longer possible, specialism is the name of the game now. If we did qualify for the CL through a win in the EL, fantastic, but Wenger should then leave on a high. He won’t, and for what its worth, the fatigue of supporters isn’t going to change. The vast majority want change, and simply won’t get behind Wenger ever again. I’m one of them.

  11. Good stuff.

    For me, it depends on which Ramsey are we getting: the keep it simple, consistent, CM who does the defensive side or are we getting the one that gives the ball away all to often and is more worried about pushing forward and neglects his defensive duties. Either way, I don’t see both Jack and Ramsey staying and I think the decision should be based on what the new man should there be one want. Maybe he wants a player like Fabinho of Monaco(its who I want) who is a complete midfield pivot to play alongside Xhaka who sits deep.

    Mkhitaryan, its a shame because you see he was starting to return to the form pre-Mourinho when he was a winger who would get you double digit goals and assists.

  12. C

    In 3 seasons in Germany Mkhitaryan averaged about 8 league goals per season and historically the players who have left Dortmund have almost all seen a decrease in their effectiveness when they move to a bigger team. I know that hope springs eternal but expecting a 29 year old player to reinvent himself as a goal scoring wide forward in the PL and hoping he can get double digits in league goals is probably not realistic.

  13. Mkhitaryan is a good player but we already had 3 other top quality players whose skill set is best suited to play as creative attacking mid fielder who don’t score a lot and don’t do much to help the defense. Having an unbalanced team loaded with players like that can work against Stoke and CSKA or Milan but it’s not going to be consistent over the course of a full season and its not going to work if our goal is to compete with teams like Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and then the other big teams in Europe

  14. Every time I see him play, I think Fernandinho is the player we’ve needed since Silva left us.

  15. I enjoyed the attacking performance Thursday but I felt the fact we could have scored ten has obscured the fact we could have conceded four or five. Which Arsenal will turn up? Both of them. I thought this was encapsulated by Bellerin, who looked like a tidy winger but a fullback beaten all ends up. I’d still be delighted with the Europa but I’m still cautious about what might happen the next time we play a team which does not allow us the space around the box afforded by Milan and Moscow.

  16. Thanks for the post, btw, YW. It captures well the way the club sits at a crossroads, the direction it will take hinted at but unclear to the observer. Time to make that Robert Johnson deal?

  17. Regarding Mikhi: He’s shown well for is so far. Better than his Utd performances promised. I think a lot depends on whether he will maintain his hustle when the team next has a collective head-dropping. He’s more versatile than I expected and I think that might help him more than hinder.

  18. Regarding Ramsey: as a Gooner with strong Welsh roots I want to believe so badly. Also, home grown players are expensive and, by and large, not better than Ramsey. However, he is horribly inconsistent. A poor first touch and lack of discipline haven’t helped. Perhaps being fannied about with positionally hasn’t helped and the technique and drive he displays at his best hint there’s a player in there somewhere. He’s at his best when he puts in the graft and picks his moments (isn’t everyone?). It’s a difficult contract negotiation for everyone because he could still go either way depending on fitness, coaching, confidence, and role.

  19. Invincibles my A$$…………There is only one Invincibles, that is Arsenal.

    We knew how to win the title at Old Trafford, White Hart Lane, and Anfield.

  20. Man City needed to add a couple of players in the transfer window to freshen things up and maintain the momentum they had in the first half of the season. They looked great in those 2 games against our defense but strange as it sounds they need to add another scorer in January. Sane is an excellent player but not a prolific scorer. Sterling is not really that good and he has predictably fallen off in the second half. Gabriel Jesus has not really been doing all that well and without Aguero in the line up they don’t look very strong against the top teams in Europe. They have also struggled with defense the last couple of games and they could have used another player.

  21. Arsene added Jose Reyes in January during the invincible season because Dennis Bergkamp was no longer the same player that he had been and that helped to maintain the momentum.

  22. andy1886,

    Will not be surprised if Ramsay follows Chamberlain to Liverpool where he would be highly suited to their high-octane style of play.

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