Whether the tragedy is Shakespearian is debatable. Jamie Vardy yesterday committed to a four-year deal with Leicester City and rejected Arsenal in the process.
The injection of cash into the game from the new broadcasting deal is no doubt a factor in the Foxes being able to offer Vardy £100k per week but a Thai billionaire owner could bankroll that if he so desired. I think, irrespective of the tv deal, that is what he wanted to do.
From the player’s perspective, we need to make some assumptions before second guessing his rationale for the decision. As I write this, Vardy hasn’t spoken to the media about signing a new deal and may be doing so overnight. It would seem on the face of it, he has opted for the longer deal. Reportedly, Arsenal offered £120k over three years; he’s taken £100k over four. The maths didn’t work in our favour.
Football deals are rarely so convenient but it’s interesting that in this case, he has chosen to stay put. It raises many questions. Jeremy Wilson in the Telegraph accused Arsenal of naivety but it’s not a charge I’d readily accept on this occasion, certainly not without evidence.
There’s no doubt Arsenal have been led down the garden path in the past but that’s not unique to us; United, City and Chelsea can all point to the same. This time, I’m minded to believe that the club were used as a bargaining tool. It’s interesting that even when the bid was made, doubts were raised about the length of the contract Arsenal offered.
The three-year deal was information quickly deposited into the public domain, as was the player’s desire for a four-year deal. Lo and behold, he now has one.
It suits the media in their pursuit of sales to push Arsenal’s incompetence. If there is any lingering question over Arsenal, it’s whether or not the club is really that attractive for players to join. It’s not the black and white question nor simple to answer.
Let’s not forget, Vardy has just won a Premier League medal; one more than Arsenal in the last decade and in all honesty, closer than we’ve got since The Invincibles. We’ve travelled the path of just about every argument and reason for that before and in all honesty, I’m not re-treading that ground again. I simply ask this question: if you’ve just won the league, are Arsenal an attractive option?
Like any transfer, it isn’t a question you can answer in isolation; there simply are too many factors to consider in a move to be that simplistic. In any case, the signings of Özil, Xhaka, Cech and Sanchez, all indicate we are a good club to join. I’ll take it as read that you agree with me that we are a good club to join.
But these are overseas players, sold on Wenger’s reputation and the club’s habitual appearance in the Champions League. They aren’t necessarily so persuasive for domestic players.
The reality is less prosaic. Smaller clubs have more money and paying players more than you think they are worth is going to become common place unless you, as a club, walk away from the deal. Vardy has a young daughter through his recent marriage and as a parent, the prospect of earning a bit more whilst staying where you are, offering the family some stability is a very attractive option.
I think Arsenal have to an extent been played but that’s the nature of football. You get moments like this and move on to the next target.
Except this is Arsenal. At £20m, Vardy, I think, represented good value for money. Two or three years out of him would have been a good deal. Not necessarily always a starter – another factor I am sure in his decision – but worth the investment.
The reality is that Arsenal would be looking to replace him in 2018; Leicester probably won’t. Safety in what you know, etc.
So we move on. Am I disappointed? Yes, in that Vardy genuinely offered variety with what we already have. Alvaro Morata, in my view, doesn’t and will be hideously over-priced by Real Madrid if they are selling. As with Vardy, there are very few players I would genuinely want Arsenal to sign or get hugely upset if we missed out on.
The big names – Lewandowski, Higuain – yes, go hell for leather if given a moments encouragement. But go wholeheartedly; don’t sit and procrastinate over £1 bids. If you’re in at that level sign. Take a step down in quality? Those players aren’t ten-a-penny but Batshuayi or Lacazette or anyone with similar qualities, can do a job for us.
What we genuinely need is not to blow things out of proportion. Vardy didn’t sign and to some his less delightful character traits make that a welcome decision. I hope you apply that consistently because I have a feeling that those of us with more pliable morals in a footballing sense, have a bit more flexibility on the signings we make. Remember, we don’t have to like the players as people. They aren’t our mates.
Everyone has a line in the sand where a player will be unacceptable but it moves depending on the circumstance. Vardy, for some, was a step too far. Noticeably, some of his critics were happy to welcome Suarez.
The reality is we need a striker. Giroud is a good Plan B but we can’t, with genuine title aspirations, go into the season with Yaya Sanogo as an alternative to a player capable of going 15 games without scoring. Arsène, it’s over to you.