Nelson Departs As Players Hold All The Cards

The week-long gap between games is a breeding ground for fertile imaginations. And stretching the truth. Reiss Nelson’s move to Hoffenheim is a good example. No official word from the club at the time of writing, so supposition takes over.

No sooner had the story run than it was tweaked on social media. The previously unsigned contract was now signed and the move to Hoffenheim is a loan deal. The story followed that curve and now reflects it as a loan deal. Still nothing on dot com nor have Hoffenheim commented.

Nelson’s contract is a different angle on the mismanagement which besieged the club and is still unresolved. If we look at the situation last summer (2017) to now, the problems that existed then, still exist now as far as contracts are concerned. Aaron Ramsey hasn’t struck a new deal nor has Danny Welbeck. Reiss Nelson neither. The goalkeeper problem is partially solved by the signing of Leno but Cech is still leaving next summer, leaving us short of experienced cover.

There are few quick fixes to these problems but fifteen months on, you’d expect one or two to be resolved other than by transfers.

You can’t force a player to sign a deal, of course. Nelson, for example, is in the driving seat. He chooses where he plays his football and as a talented youngster, you’d hope the pursuit of his career over-rides the desire for a healthy bank balance.

A move to Hoffenheim helps his career. Serge Gnabry left Arsenal to return to Germany and is thriving in first-team football. Others of Nelson’s academy alumni went elsewhere – Willock to Portugal, McGuane to Spain – with the route to the Arsenal first team congested. It’s suddenly an option for English youngsters and good luck to those who take it.

The Power and…

Clubs don’t have much power in these situations. They can offer wealth but that comes with no guarantees. A player’s reaction, under those circumstances, tells you a lot about them. Nelson wants first-team football; it’s his motivation although the money helps. But more than the latter, he wants the former. You can’t say that about every player at Arsenal.

There’s no magic wand which guarantees Nelson 40+ appearances and a regular place in the starting line-up. Mesut Özil can’t wheedle that out of Emery, so an academy graduate isn’t going to either. I’m sure Arsenal hoped the taste of first-team football would be enough, whetting his appetite. It did; now he wants more and believes Hoffenheim offers a better opportunity.

Which proves my original point: I’ve morphed this story from the source back to a permanent deal, completely overlooking that it might be a loan move.

Nonetheless, it’s football contracts 101. Of how the power shifted from tyrannical club chairmen treat players as serfs to the players themselves; the footballing meek inherited the earth. Good luck to them if they succeed.

Between the players, agents and owners, there won’t be much left of football’s carcass when the crash comes. And it is coming; football’s existence outside the economic bubble of reality is unsustainable. Who will be left then? As ever, supporters will pick up the pieces.

Back to Nelson. I’m not losing sleep over his decision. Promising youngsters breaking into the first team is an exciting moment in football. A young man is living the dream; we hope it goes well. Make 50 appearances and some affinity may grow but all too often, it falls by the wayside. Even those who ‘make the grade’ bid us farewell at some point.

The Glory

And football is callous and we’re as guilty as everyone else. How much thought is spared for the broken dream by us, the supporters? A fleeting thought at the time? Certainly little or nothing afterwards unless they pop up on social media.

The impact on the first team at Arsenal is negligible in terms of Nelson’s departure. We’re still finding our feet under Unai Emery, with progress slowly emerging. I like the idea that we’re signing Yaya Toure. Not for footballing reasons, just for the idea that he won’t be able to move his Zimmer frame quick enough to leave a gaping hole in midfield.

That’s about it for today other than to congratulate the winners of the signed Alan Smith book who are: Olivier Angot, Dave MacFadyen, Ian McMurdy, and Nicole Smith. A copy of the book and a copy of Jens Lehmann’s book to Neil Rudd, who won the World Cup competition.

’til Tomorrow.

25 thoughts on “Nelson Departs As Players Hold All The Cards

  1. Two points from your interesting post today, YW.
    1. You say that Cech will be leaving next Summer which will make us short.
    But there will be two Transfer Windows before then, during which we should surely be able to sign a suitable replacement.
    2. I too would be pleased to see Toure at the Ems. His advancing years, like Mertesacker before him, would be more than compensated by his excellent reading of a game. 😉

  2. Great post YW,

    Any confirmation Toure is signing for us, its actually a good idea but I am yet to confirm which club in London.

    It does seem there’s an Arsenal squad hole in Hoffenheim thanks to Julian Nagelsmaan. Word is Nelson is going to replace Gnabry who has been recalled to Bayern Munchen.

  3. Good stuff Yogi.

    Nelson leaving on a permanent isn’t a good thing because he brings the pace and being a true winger that we are missing and him developing would certainly be a good thing for us. Him leaving on loan to Hoffenheim would be brilliant for all parties: Nagelsmann ia a brilliant young manager who plays an attacking style and having him replace Gnabry would be brilliant and show his development. Interesting that Gnabry is now in the Bayern plans….

  4. Great post yogi

    Good luck to Nelson. I hope its a loan deal. I think a loan deal would be the best thing that could happen for both the team and the player. However, if it turns out to be a permanent move then good luck to him. We have seen dozens of players like him come and go over the years and may be he is different but we all know what is the most likely outcome for him.

    All big teams tend to lose players like Nelson from time to time but it seems to happen to us more often then most and I think the problem is we are no longer considered on the upper levels of in the European football hierarchy. The fact that we have been out of the CL for 2 seasons in a row and we are not favorites to move back up to 4th place hurts our reputation even more. The only way to fix that is to start winning again ASAP. We are already trying to develop Guendouzi, Iwobe, Mavroponos, Holding, Maitland-Niles and like it or not trying to develop players like it or not developing players like that and another teenager like Nelson and winning are competing goals. Realistically we can’t expect to have much chance to climb back into the top 4 and develop a group of teenagers at the same time so from the standpoint of the teams short and long term success and from Nelson’s developmental standpoint a loan spell is a win/win IMO.

  5. Bill,

    It is an unavoidable conclusion. We have declined in stature. Part of the decline is falling out of the top 4 and another part is never having challenged for the PL or gone far in the CL under AW while we were in it. As a result we were making up the numbers and now are not. Chelsea can drop out, spend similarly on players and still be credible as a top club because they have won big trophies recently. This is what was so ludicrous about the policy of consistent participation as an end, a measure of success. It is a much more fragile kind of success because competitive team sport is about glorious victory. That culture has to change but I do worry as Nicky does about Kroenke. As a club we are operating little bit with the handbrake on!

  6. Bill,

    You can develop youngsters and still win and if you think you can’t then who did Liverpool play at FB all last season? Simeone has won by developing players for years and Koke has been at the center of ALL of that. Its not about playing a team full of youngsters like you often times mention which, if memory serves NOBODY has said, its about playing 1 or 2 youngsters in spots and having them be apart of the first team featuring as subs and playing in the Cups especially those that are only 18 years old and not just writing them off.

    You always want to point to Madrid, Barca, Bayern and that lot when it comes to not using youngsters despite the fact that players like Asensio, Vasquez, Odriozola, Theo Hernandez, Koke, Ceballos, Kimmich. koman, Morata, Rodri, Lucas Hernandez, Raboit, Veratti, Dembele, Sane and the list goes on all playing key roles for big clubs.

  7. Yaya Toure? I really hope not. He’s from the Ozil school of commitment.

    Saw him play for Arsenal v Barnet in pre-season 2003. He looked a decent player that day, but Wenger decided not to take a punt on him. Hindsight eh?

    A friend got a group of us in the Director’s Lounge (shed) after the game. Talked to John Motson. What a strange man!

  8. Here’s a little titbit for you: A friend of mine moves in the same circles as Hector Bellerin. Apparently he is very happy with the new set up under Emery. Last season he was desperate to leave as he felt Wenger provided no coaching or direction.

    Interesting as his performances haven’t changed much from last season. Time will tell.

  9. Pete the Thirst,

    I think his performances have improved on the attacking side and defensively, I think he needs to be ccoached up especially when you consider just 2 years ago w/o coaching he was though of as arguably thr best RB in the PL and on his way. No coaching, direction or help in development and he stalled, now he looks back to his best attacking wise and defensively, I think Emery will help. Imagine we will see a better Bellerin defensively then we do now come May.

  10. Pete

    As I said the other day. If managers want full-backs to bomb on in support of the attack, there’s no point in bitching when the gaps at the back aren’t plugged when they do that. It isn’t the full-back’s fault; that’s either the coach not thinking through the consequences of their actions or the players who are supposed to cover, not doing their jobs.

  11. Pete the Thirst,

    Good afternoon All.

    Pete I guess it’s all about perceptions. It does not take a genius to see that in the last 12 months under AWs tenure Bellerin has put in some indifferent performances.

    It’s evident that Bellerins attacking contribution this season resulted in 2 assists the weekend just gone.
    The green shoots of a partnership, understanding with Miki is burgeoning.

    As Emery does not play with Wingers the full backs are encouraged to get forward. It’s still very early in Emery tenure.

    Do we know what Emery is actually asking, wanting him to do?.

    Many asked for change, some flew planes to get the points across. Change with regards to the time is going to take a lot of time. It’s not going to be linear.

    There will be progression and then stagnation. We will end up stuck in cul de sacs on occasions etc etc. Emery simply has to be given time. Do I personally think that he will have turned it around in 18-24 months? Truth be I don’t know. I hope so but personally feel that there’s a number of players that must leave etc.

  12. C

    Every team wants to develop their own players whenever possible. However, Even you would admit that big teams are not successfully developing their own youth as much as they did even 10 years ago. The only possible explanation for the trend is developing youth makes it more difficult to win. I can’t imagine anyone would dispute that statement. We are already at a disadvantage in many ways and the last thing we need to is to do anything else that makes it harder to climb back to the top 4. We are already trying to develop Guendouzi Maitland-Niles Iwobe and probably Mavroponos holding and you could argue even Bellerin needs to be developed. We certainly don’t need another developmental project.

  13. YW

    Our best fullbacks in the emeritus era Sagna and Nacho thrived on both ends of the pitch even under Arsene and they didn’t have any more cover so it can’t be done. On the other some very physically talented players like Gibbs and Clichy never really figured out how to balance defending and attacking. If Hector is going to be considered a top fullback he has to be able to do both reasonably well on both ends of the pitch at the same time and hoping for him to figurie it out is certainly not a slam dunk.

  14. Bill

    They didn’t attack down both sides of the pitch at the same time though. It was either or. Nor were they expected to bomb forward and then sprint back to cover the gap they left. They had cover from midfield or defence. At the moment, Emery’s transition between 4-2-3-1 to 2-2-2-4 in attack is flawed because the two covering the flanks aren’t defensively minded. So, we’re left exposed and until that balance is found, we’ll always have problems.

  15. Hector has been very effective on the attacking end for that last 2 games but that is only 2 games and it’s a bit early to suggest that he is suddenly morphed into a great attacking fullback. We have yet to see what happens when the rest of the league sees film and starts to adjust

  16. Bill,

    Other teams will certainly watch and notice we are working at cutting the ball back by fullbacks. There will be adjustments and we will find out if we are good enough to still do it effectively to create chances. We’ll see some variety in crosses and cutbacks. But Bellerin is a pretty talented attacking fullback when he drives confidently with pace on the overlap rather than cutting in and playing it inside conservatively even on a break:counterattack. I found that propensity under AW’s regime quite frustrating. The problem is fitness and covering him. He can’t get from the byline to catch up to a forward on the counter breaking into the right side fast enough. No one can. You need to make a quick foul and get a midfielder over to close down the space behind and check their counter enough for Bellerin to get back and help defend. And he needs the fitness to keep running. In one of the first two games I remember him walking back at around 75’ after a big run forward. He was totally gassed and Mkh and the CM (Guendouzi/Xhaka) didn’t come across quickly either. Led to a Cech save.

  17. Limestone.

    Hector has been very effective give in the attacking end for the last 2 games but he has struggled for the last 2 years. In these last 2 games he has focused all of his mental and physical energy on attacking and we can’t afford to have him play like that long term

  18. Bill,

    ALL big clubs still develop at least one or two young players and those youngsters feature. Asensio has been KEY player for Madrid in ALL three of their runs to the CL and Madrid has said he is the reason why even though they want Hazard they don’t need to spend that amount of money. Again, your missing the point between having a squad or 4 or 5 youth players and having 1 or 2 that are deeply embedded into the first team. Everybody does it including Citeh, Atletico, Madrid, Juve, Bayern, Barca, PSG whether you want to admit it or not. Sure they will still spend but they all also have 1-2 young playera that feature either as regular subs, occassional starts and/or first choice early cup teams. Again, Madrid had an A team and a B first tea that was used throughout Zidane’s tenture at Madrid that helped him rest his first choice players like Benzema, Bale and that lot while also bleeding in youngsters. Koman and Kimmich have been a regulars at Bayern for the past 3 years.

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