Wenger On Alexis, Flawed Economics & Straw Man Arguments

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…?

’til Tomorrow.



129 thoughts on “Wenger On Alexis, Flawed Economics & Straw Man Arguments

  1. At least the writer of the piece admits that his thinking is ‘rudimentary’.
    Thank goodness the Club is run by people whose thinking is very much more sophisticated.
    What I would question is whether or not the same decisions would be arrived at if the amount of money on the table for Sanchez was, say, £80m or if there wasn’t £200m in the bank to pay off the rest of the stadium debt.
    Don’t also forget that Sanchez will only ‘walk away’ to a club who are willing to pay him the (reportedly) £400k a week that he wants. They may save a transfer fee payable to us but any agent worth his salt will take that into account and will demand a big signing on fee and, quite probably, an even bigger salary which will have knock on effects on the rest of the squad that he joins. That can be a recipe for problems.
    Can potential purchasers now actually afford to wait another year or will vacancies be shut down – particularly for a player who in a years time will be knocking on the door of 30 and still demanding a four year contract? RVP after all was a little bit older and only actually fulfilled about a third of his contract before going out on loan and never playing for Manure again.
    RVP was a different case not just because of his age but also his injury record which, in the end made his time at Manure short and very expensive.
    Rudimentary thinking is rarely good long term thinking and fans in general are rarely capable of thinking past the next game.

  2. C,

    Salut C and Henri trust you are both well.

    Yes C there are a number of candidates out there as you have cited.

    This particular issue has to be looked at and some form of action taken.

    I agree El Neny is decent enough player. Is he a starter? No, not in my humble opinion. As you noted C we seriously need to buy somebody.

  3. Insideright,

    Au contraire mon ami. RvP won a United side that were individually inferior to the Arsenal squad of the same season the PL title. For the paltry sum of £25m + wages I would argue that was a bargain.

  4. Youth player….I wonder if Arsene does these bargain buys so that he can say he met his stated target of bringing in ‘x’ number of players .

    Man I’m grouchy and cynical today. …And we haven’t even dropped our home opener yet.

  5. Yawn.

    The stadium is mortgaged and paid monthly. Arsenal apparently investigated paying it off early hut he penaltues were such that the benefit of doing so was lost. So the £200m in the bank has got guck all to four with stadium debt being paid down.

    Insideright, does the name Sol Campbell mean anything to you. Alexis us leaving us for the same reasons Sol left Spurs. He wants to win trophies and we aren’t delivering. And Sol was very well remunerated to the point where his earnings and signing on bonuses had the same cost effect as a transfer at market value. To clubs, there is little net difference in these scenarios as a general rule. If Alexis walks, his wage demands / sign in fee will rocket.

    How’s that got rudimentary thinking.

    PS, RVP was 163 days older than Alexis. Stop listening to AW so much and check facts. He needs to.

  6. Insideright,

    Worrying about salary knock on effects on the rest of the squad that he joins usually isn’t a bother to the teams that could afford those wages. Manure paid ridiculous mounts for Ibra, signed Rooney at his prime to an astronomical wage. Manure, Real, PSG don’t seem to be bothered by potential knock on effects – they spend whatever they can. Different business model from the 99% of the other teams. They probably look at their high salaries as an incentive for other players to perform better – they don’t live in the same world of financial constraints.

  7. Arsene on Szczesny:

    “We wish him well,” the manager told Arsenal Player. “I think he is an Arsenal boy, an Arsenal man but we have so many top-class goalkeepers that we gave him a chance to remain in Italy.

    “Juventus bought him tonight at only one year of contract to go. I think that it’s very good for his future because he will certainly take over from Buffon and I believe as well that he will always be thankful to Arsenal because Arsenal was a big step in his career.

    “If you look at the keepers we have educated, they are all doing well. We had of course Wojciech and now Emi Martinez coming out of our ranks. We have Matt Macey behind and all are doing very, very well.”

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/wenger-reason-szczesnys-departure#H3JhUDg7xIfdMSEH.99

  8. £60m for Morata. Less than Utd paid for Lukaku. Blimey. Can’t see Mourinshi being happy about that.

  9. C,

    I don’t know anything about Zirkzee, but if he is a promising young talent why isn’t DeBoer in for him?

  10. Steve,

    Looks to be a bargain given that he’s already proved he can do the job in Italy and Spain. He also has CL experience. Strange that United initially seemed to have a clear run at Morata and Chelsea had a clear run at Lukaku. In the end they have swapped targets, but I think Chelsea has got the better player. Jose will be spitting nails privately.

  11. Wavey,

    I know very little about him but from what I have read about he is a promising talent. DeBoer seems to be focused on the senior side and I wonder if he will start to address the academy after watching them for himself.

  12. Steve:
    £60m for Morata. Less than Utd paid for Lukaku. Blimey. Can’t see Mourinshi being happy about that.

    How much did Lacazette cost?

  13. C,

    I noted a short while ago throughout this entire episode (bears repeating no one bothered to keep in any sort of contact) Szczęsny has never had anything but good words for Arsenal – his parting notes regarding the club really touching.

    Elneny. I thought at first that report seemed a little off but now several parties have stated the same.

    I am sorry to say another disappointing episode in my book – one which confirms what I said from the moment he signed, Wenger had a really odd attitude to him. Obviously people have sat back watched and realized it also. Then Leicester make a bid (mediocre to say the least) and the club accepts it?

    Perhaps C and I have cracked on more than most but I do not think we have seen even close to what Elneny could provide for the team. He has a skill set that works in midfield but a while ago we posed it would be really interesting to see him used occasionally as a No10 …and now he is being used as a CB on this tour. He is just the sort of accomplished squad player (and tireless) we need.

    I am really happy he rejected the deal – but I am sure if he moved he would be starting for a team, impressing, and then a lot of people would be asking what happened at Arsenal?

  14. Regarding the Morata deal – I have to laugh.

    I am sure part of what drove Mourinho was the idea of besting Chelsea for Lukaku.

    However, there is something truly bullshitty about how that story was played. Were Chelsea interested, yes. However, the fact that Lukaku and Pogba were partying in a rented villa in LA the week before the deal was sensationally announced (and lets not forget the days it took to organize flights, the rental etc before the ‘party’) meant that deal was done and dusted days (if not a few weeks) before it got announced.

    So, I do not believe there was any last minute swoop with an increased offer. Mourinho and United just outbid Chelsea early days (which suited a number of parties) and my guess is Chelsea ultimately thought better of it.

    So now Chelsea have secured Morata. Nice. In part because I think Mourinho has been caught out trying to be too clever, but also as there would be no choice in my book – Morata. Lukaku will be an asset but sort of characterless as a figurehead and that is something United have always preferred to have.

    I think Chelsea got the better of United and its telling Mourinho is now having a moan about the window.

  15. philmar,


    Lacazette was 55m I think, give or take the odd million here and there. Happy with him all the same but until the Sanchez story is resolved it is hard to
    say if we are stronger than last season. or not.

    Chelsea in just over a week now have Rutiger, Bakayoko and now Morata. That is serious level players added.

  16. Henry B

    Sorry I did not get back to you earlier. Wojo got a lot of hype and probably was a more talented player then Almunia but talent does not always equal consistent or effective. Arsene handed Wojo the job as #1 GK in 2010 and the job was his for as long as he played well enough. Unfortunately did not play well enough and lost the job at least twice and eventually Arsene had to find a way to off load him and send him on loan even though we had to subsidize his wages. That does not sound like a GK who was trustworthy or consistent to me.

  17. Hi Bill,

    I doubt you will see this because we are like passing ships in the night, and the new Post will no doubt intervene – but here goes.

    You have made a good case from your viewpoint, and I cannot disprove any of it – neither would I want to – other than to remind you that I was only responding to your comment comparing Chezzer and Almunia and indicating that the latter was as good as, or better better than Chezzer, which you have now clarified by agreeing Wojo was more talented, altho more problematic of the two, and so we are good. 😀

  18. Bill,

    I don’t want to sound like I’m charging to the defence of Wojo, because I’m not. It just seems that you have decided on Wojo based on his history at Arsenal when many goalkeepers don’t really come into their own until later in their careers. Wojo was inconsistent at Arsenal, he went from spells of brilliance to adequacy at best. He also had is disciplinary problems, but Wenger has given other youngsters time to grow out of some of their issues. The key point is that he was young and was pitched into the team at a very early age. From what I can see at Arsenal the youngsters are left to sink or swim by themselves with very little support (we can list a host of promising youngsters who just disappeared at Arsenal). In the past two years he has performed exceptionally well at Roma, to the extent that Juve have decided on him as a successor to Buffon. That’s no mean feat. It is strange that Wenger (and many Arsenal fans) had completely given up on him when he appears to turned his career around. The money we are getting for Wojo isn’t exactly a sum that Arsenal just couldn’t turn down, so why wouldn’t the club have Wojo back alongside Cech in a straight fight for the number one spot? With Lehmann as coach surely Wojo could have developed further. Instead we may have created another potential headache next summer if Cech continues to go down hill in the coming season.

  19. It seems that the reason for Sead Kolasinac’s early substitution yesterday was not due to injury but a stomach upset. The same problem prevented both Mertesacker and Giroud from featuring in the match, while Walcott and Ramsey were also afflicted.

  20. Hi Bill,

    I doubt you will see this because we are like passing ships in the night, and the new Post will no doubt intervene – but here goes.

    You have made a good case from your viewpoint, and I cannot disprove any of it – neither would I want to – other than to remind you that I was only responding to your comment comparing Chezzer and Almunia and indicating that the latter was as good as, or better better than Chezzer, which you have now clarified by agreeing Wojo was more talented, altho more problematic of the two, and so we are good. 😀

    Some guy called HernryB pinched my comment and got stuck in moderation – so yah boo sucks — here is the the real McCoy – or HenryB 😀

  21. I was wondering what the hell those brown lines were running parallel with the white side lines during the Bayern game.

    There were one or two going in ever decreasing circles too — must have been Theo. 🙂

  22. I tend to agree with your 8:52, Wavey – and good morning to you – but from what I have seen of Emi, he is looking very good too, and with Ospina unloadable we would have had too many GKs.

    Pushed to make a choice, I would go for Chezzer, he has also got the experience at a top Italian club to go with his talent.

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