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.
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.