Posts Tagged ‘Flamini transfer

11
May
08

Theo’s goal, Wenger’s transfers, Flamini’s pain.

Another one-nil Arsenal win, a draw by Chelsea, and Man U’s 2-0 win means that Arsenal finish 2008 in third place; 2 points behind Chelsea and 4 points behind winners Manchester United.

Interestingly, Man U finished the season with a mere 87 points which means that Wenger’s New Year’s prediction that Arsenal needed 90 points to win the title was pretty damn close. At the time, he compared this season’s team to the Invincibles saying that “We had 44 points before Everton, which is one point less than in the unbeaten season when we had 45. So that tells you a lot about the quality of the team.” Upon reflection, he’s been banging this “this team is as good as the invincibles” drum all season and I never really noticed it. You almost have to wonder if that’s how he kept the team’s spirits high all season.

Speaking about his transfer targets he beat that Invincibles drum again:

It doesn’t look like we have no team and we have to build a team. We were unbeaten at home and that is only the second time in the history of the club. We have done that with young players who will be better next season.

What’s fascinating about this whole dialog for me is that if you were to repeat those lines with your casual EPL fan (especially here in America) you’d get derisive laughter. But that’s how close Arsenal were this season and how misinformed your average EPL fan (especially here in America) really is. I had a “Wolves Supporter” tell me today that next year Arsenal need a 20 point lead in order to win the title. Yes, and Arsenal should go out and pick up Henri Camara to do it, right?

Regardless, the season was, in fact, very close. Had the club rescued just a few points that they dropped against lesser quality teams (yes, Birmingham are lesser quality, you saw they made the drop today, right?) Arsenal would have finished exactly where Wenger predicted, 90 points and champions.

But they didn’t rescue those points and they didn’t win the title. They did play beautifully, and they do have a great team in the offing, so now it is time to look forward to next season and what Professor Wenger has in store for the supporters.

Today’s match was a preview of next season of sorts, wasn’t it? Too bad I couldn’t watch it but the match reports said that Theo started and scored the only goal. Good for him, I expect to see him a regular starter next year. Meanwhile, budding French winger Traore and young English winger Mark Randall came on in the second half. Evidently, Randall had a goal disallowed. Not bad for his (Randall) first ever EPL appearance! I can’t wait to see what he does next year in the League Cup.

As for signings, you have no doubt seen by now that Wenger has a “couple” of players targeted: most likely, a tough central defender and a replacement for Flamini in midfield. He’s also saying that he’s willing to pony up the cash for someone with experience in the Premiership. I don’t know how important that will be: Sagna didn’t have any Premiership experience and was voted best Right Back in the league. I do know that buying a Premiership player is a good political move; I hear a lot of fans calling for Micah Richards and signing him would make a lot of people happy. I don’t want to get into speculation about specific players but if I were (ha!) I would suggest that fans not set their hopes on Richards because with his size and ability he plays more like Gallas than like a Ferdinand (which is what Arsenal really need).

If I were to speculate? I’d say Xavi Alonso is coming to Arsenal; he’s Spanish (Wenger likes pairs and Cesc is the lone Spaniard), he’s a tremendously dependable passer, and he’s fallen out of favor at Liverpool. But see, that’s just me speculating, I don’t claim an “inside source” who can tell me, literally moments before the rest of the press, that Arsenal have signed XYZ. I’m just a blogger, like all the other bloggers, no matter how much they claim special access and still get 98% of their predictions wrong. So, why don’t we wait for the dot com to release the news instead of claiming special knowledge, and making crazy predictions like “XAVI TO ARSENAL!!!” eh?

And that leads me to my final blurb: Flamini has spoken out about the “pain” he felt because Arsenal failed to secure the title and how that influenced his decision not to stay. So, he went to AC Milan, who are clearly overflowing with trophies this season. In fact, van Persie, Arsene Wenger, and I all rate Arsenal’s chance at winning silverware higher than Milan’s: van Persie thinks it’ll be 100%. Way to end the season on a high note Robin, now stay healthy and maybe you can be a significant part of that 100%.

So, the season ends and like the fans, some of the players are bitter, some are hurt, and some of us are hopeful.

Where are you?

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10
May
08

2% of all ships have rats

As Alex (one of my loyal readers) scooped yesterday, during the Friday press conference the boss gave a strongly worded defense of his team and team concept.

Clearly tired of all the press speculation the Boss lashed out:

Look, there is one player who is free, he has already left. For me, 98 per cent of the squad will be here next season. And the two per cent have already gone. The rest are all under contract. If anybody wants to buy a player he has to call me. I can give you my number if you want because maybe some ignore that I have a phone. What is unbelievable is I’m sitting here like we have killed all the players. Yet when I go to my office I have 220 calls from players who want to come in.

With that statement we have learned today that 1) Arsene Wenger does have a phone 2) there are 220 players who want a job at Arsenal 3) the squad has 50 players and 2% have left (one guy, Flamini) and 4) Inter either are unable to use a phone (not surprising) or they have forgotten that the country code for England is 44 (maybe they were dialing 33?)

Then he rounded on Flamini and Milan, questioning the character of both.

I know the rules in this job, the guy [Flamster] is free, he can go to somebody who pays him more, but he said he wanted to stay. If you say ‘no I want to go somewhere’ that is ok. But you cannot say ‘I want to stay but I go.’ This club here [Arsenal] has a history of being built by people of values. I’m not sure that in the history of Milan you’ll find the same values, even if you dig well.

Owch. I don’t really blame Milan here. Flamini was a free agent, Milan offered him a bigger contract, and he choose to take it. Flamini is the one here who told the boss one thing and did something different. Which is really, personally, sad. I really liked the guy and thought he showed tremendous character over the last few years; stepping up and doing anything that was asked of him. So, I have to admit that I’m kind of surprised that he did the dirty on the boss like that. Why not just be a man and say “I’m leaving?” I don’t know, it’s really a sad way to leave.

The boss is more forgiving than I am saying;

Still, for me it’s not a problem, I wish him well and say thanks for the services. Let’s go on and focus on what’s important for this Club and the players who want to stay here. There is no bitterness, nothing. He was in a situation where he could make a decision, and he did. Goodbye and good luck. It’s as simple as that. What is important is that a player, when he plays, gives 100 per cent. And when he played for us he gave 100 per cent.

I’m not going to burn my Flamini jersey or cry into a beer over it, but I can’t quite forgive him yet; it was a bit of a cowardly way to leave. I guess I can just try to remember that he was a fully committed player and will be difficult to replace for the qualities that he showed on the pitch. Let’s just hope we get someone in there with better qualities off the pitch.

Speaking of players who are acting poorly off the pitch, the boss has also taken a huge swipe at Hleb and even gone so far as to threaten legal action should the player try to “pull a Webster.”

It is not as simple as it looks, this Webster clause, you can’t just come in next day and buy out, there is no rule that says that. And you should not forget what clubs can do. You have to first go to a FIFA tribunal and if you don’t agree with FIFA, you have to go to ACAS [I’m linking to ACAS because I don’t think my American readers will know what it is – TB] It takes a lot of months. You can be banned for the whole period if it’s not done in a proper way.

Owch. I think Wenger is trying to express a level of frustration with the way this whole deal is going down — and rightly so. Hleb is under contract. It is unfathomable that a person who has contracted his services for a specific period of time would go to a secret meeting with a competitor to talk about switching allegiances THE DAY BEFORE A PIVOTAL COMPETITION.

If I had a strong dislike of Hleb before I’ll be extra pissed if he tries to pull a Webster. It’s not that I want him to stay, I don’t. It’s just that I think the team deserve to get a fair transfer fee from him. Arsenal and Arsene had faith in him when the wolves were calling for him to be dropped. Arsene stuck with him and developed him and really gave the man a platform on which he could showcase his talents and thus command respect and interest from other teams. Arsenal deserve a big payday if Hleb leaves and I fully support the team pursuing that payday through the legal system.

Don’t get me wrong, Hleb won’t be with Arsenal next season. I don’t get the sense that Wenger has much respect for the man after what he pulled in Milan and his respect will drop to zero if he tries to screw the team out of a fair transfer fee. And that’s exactly what the Webster clause will do; screw the team out of money. Money that could be used to buy players. So, I think what Arsene is trying to do is get fair market value for Hleb, and, again, I fully support the team in this. Someone needs to challenge this Webster clause, Arsenal might as well do it; they break new ground everywhere else, why not in contract talks?

In other team news, Rosicky is ruled out for Euro 2008. Which sucks, but maybe the player will come back bigger and stronger. Like maybe they can tighten that ligament and he can start shooting shots from 50 yards out? He’ll be a secret weapon!

Anyway, that’s your lot for today. I’ve been out of the loop for the last few days because baby and mommy are in the hospital still and I didn’t have my laptop with me. Now I do and I’ll be back now stronger than ever, like Rosicky.

03
May
08

“We are not Chelsea”

Yesterday, Arsene Wenger reminded everyone of the character, history, and intent of Arsenal Football Club. His simple,clear, concise statement was “We are not Chelsea.” It’s a simple statement and yet answers several fairly complex questions. What is the purpose of the club? Why can’t Arsenal just give Flamini what he wants? And, what should fans expect from the offseason?

I remember feeling very disappointed with the club a few years ago. It seemed like every player that Arsenal were linked to went to Chelsea — and for double the price that Arsenal were offering. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Essien, etc etc. all signed big money deals with Chelsea. What was worse about it is that Chelsea was winning titles too. Instinctively, I wanted Arsenal to match Chelsea tit-for-tat in the transfer market; capture a big name and get back to winning titles.

But we are not Chelsea.

In order to attract those players Chelsea had to offer huge transfer fees and pay extraordinary salaries. All of that liberal spending led to the revelation in December that Abramovich has written off a stunning £270m in debts. That was in addition to the £440m he is estimated to have spent acquiring the club. What’s a billion pounds to Roman? 1/10 of his fortune, that’s what.

I understand what Abramovich is trying to do: he wants to make Chelsea into a footballing world superpower. He figures that if he spends enough money now, he’ll be able to build the brand up and sell enough tee-shirts and other swag to make up for it all in the long run. Maybe that will work, maybe not, I’m not privy to the Chelsea books so I can’t say for certain. But Wenger brings up a great point; “what if he dies?” Forget dying, what happens if he just loses interest or if he starts to see that his investment could never possibly pay off?

This is important because all of these huge salaries that Chelsea are paying are being leveraged through debt instruments (bonds) against the club. The Chelsea board assures the fans that Roman is trusted never to ask for those bonds to be paid. But if something happens, and lets say that he honors his “promise” and doesn’t collect those bonds, there’s still these enormous salaries being paid which the club — even with all their recent success — cannot afford to pay.  If they could, they would be piling hundreds of millions of pounds into bonds every year.

You can see how the situation could get out of control real quick: players sold (hopefully their worth what you paid for them!) the team slowly gets worse and worse, until one day you’re staring at relegation. From “top four” to bottom four in just a few years. That’s the scary prospect.

But we are not Chelsea.

Arsenal have a lot of debt from building the new stadium, Wenger puts it at £360m. This debt is currently the limiting factor on transfers, pay scales, and all the rest. Flamini was reportedly offered £144,000/wk in wages by AC Milan.  If those reports are to be believed, Wenger couldn’t pay Flamini £7.5m/yr if he wanted to because as soon as he did, he’d have half the team asking for more money and that would mean piling more debt on. So, until that debt gets paid down the wage structure must stay pat or as Le Boss says: “It is not that you cannot respect the wage structure, we cannot afford not to do it.”

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. First, the new stadium is generating massive revenues. There are nearly twice as many people attending Arsenal matches than there were at Highbury. Even though the bigger stadium was a long-term investment it’s starting to pay off now: imagine what that payout will be in 10 years? Second, the old stadium is getting ready to help pay off a huge amount of that debt. I’m unclear on how this works but there’s something like £200m set to be released from the Highbury project and that will go straight to debt obligations. And third, Arsenal have Arsene Wenger.

You’re the reason for the first, keep up the good work and stay the course. Now is not the time to jump ship. The Highbury thing is just something that has to happen. I guess you could help, if you can buy a condo. But really, the club is in charge of that. And to the third, I trust Wenger to find the right players to make the team competitive. His ability there is unparalleled; just look at Bacary Sagna. There is no person I trust that end of the business to than Arsene Wenger.

So, in this off season, as I have said time and again, don’t expect any big signings.  If there was a local place that took propositions I would bet that Arsenal buys just one player.  And further bet that that person is someone obscure: another defender.  That’s it, anything else that Wenger does will be to keep the players he has.  With all this debt, it just doesn’t make good business sense to go out and buy some expensive player, just to appease a few cranky fans.

And in the end, that’s just it; Arsenal FC is being run like a business. Revenues generated are used to pay debts and then build the club. The Chelsea model is not being run like a business. It’s being run like the bank account of some dumb rich kid.

We are not Chelsea… thank God.

01
May
08

Edelman steps down

Gratuitous use of Gisele
Gisele Bundchen with the dude who just resigned — he’s on the right

I don’t know what it means. No one really does. Today, Arsenal announced that Keith Edelman has stepped down as Managing Director/Director of Arsenal Holdings PLC to “plow greener pastures” or some such. In American if he would have stepped down to “take care of his family” I could say he’s been forced to resign, but I really don’t know what the English “new challenges” code word means. Maybe he’s really off to explore new challenges, like climbing Everest, or maybe he’s going to try to cure cancer I don’t know.  I do know that whatever he does it will be a new challenge.

I just wonder why he’s announcing this now? The timing is just odd. Combine the timing with the fact that he was Director of Holdings and his vehement resistance to the Dein takeover and I just get a bad feeling about this. Let’s hope my feeling is wrong.

In good news, Theo has both been picked for the England U-21 squad and won Arsenal player of the Month for April. He really has had a special month, from the Liverpool match to the goal at Derby, Theo sure looks like he’s blossoming. My only complaint is that I’d like to see his teammates look for him a little more next year.  Some times it looks like they ignore whichever side he’s playing on. I’m not too worried because I suspect that the relationship with his teammates will develop during the off season when they practice together a little more with Theo in whatever new role Le Boss wants him to play in.

In bad news, it’s May 1st and there’s no word of Flamini signing. I assume that this means he is gone: good luck little buddy. If a real news story surfaces today I’ll update the blog as soon as I find out.

There’s a lot of squawking on the wires about Arsenal players. Who’s coming in, who’s leaving, some 16 year old Greek striker is getting a 10 day trial, and meanwhile Adebayor’s agent is making statements… blah, blah, blah.

Nothing has changed. This is still the same Arsenal team as it was yesterday — minus one board member. No need to get uptight about anything, yet.

Later!

27
Apr
08

t-minus three days

It’s a nice, lazy, Sunday morning and I’m just sitting here watching Juventus destroy Lazio while scouring the internet for an Arsenal news story. Later on I’ll probably check out the Villa/Everton game what with everyone pegging Gareth Barry as a replacement for Flamini.

And that’s the truth of it isn’t it? Everything right now is transfer speculation and responses to transfer speculation. Which is a bit odd for me as this is my first year blogging. Before, I could just sort of zone out at this point in the season and now, I’m looking for stories… Come on… any story will do. Huh, here’s one: Hleb says he wants trophies, is afraid of Premier League defenders, blames his pass first attitude on his childhood, and claims not to know whether he will be going to Inter.

Two things caught my attention there: the thing about defenders and the thing about his pass first attitude. It’s pretty clear that Martin Taylor’s horrible tackle on Eduardo rocked some of the players. You have to wonder what part that tackle will play in Hleb’s decision to move to a new league. Especially when he sees the problem escalating:

The tackling and the style of play has become more aggressive. Sometimes you can see a tackle coming and if you don’t do anything you could lose both your legs. The referees should be protecting players and the game, if they don’t, the aggression is going to escalate.

I kind of disagree with Hleb here. I’ve been watching some classic football matches and those guys were pretty freakin violent. I’m not saying that the league couldn’t use a little cleaning up; certainly it could. Instead, we should see the progress that the league has made in stamping out a lot of violent play and encourage them to go further.

I’ve been beating this drum ever since the Taylor tackle, but I think that the managers and clubs need to be held accountable when players are told to go out and get overly physical. As I’ve said before, international football is changing (UEFA promises to crack down during Euro 2008) and if England wishes to compete they are going to have to develop skill players instead of just churning out lumbering, mindless, no-talent hulks like Martin Taylor. Hleb citing that tackle as a reason he might leave should be seen as a shot across the bow to the FA.

But it won’t be.

As for the pass first thing… Jesus, Hleb, you’re 27 and you can’t shoot because your youth coach told you to pass? I don’t think so. I think that’s an excuse. You scored goals in Germany, I’ve seen you shoot at goal for Arsenal, so I know you CAN shoot, but why don’t you?

Some guys don’t shoot because they are afraid. You can always tell who these guys are because they will find themselves wide open, in front of goal, and will look around for someone else to pass the ball to. I think Hleb is one of these guys. I’m not suggesting that Arsenal should get rid of him, but instead that we as fans should realize that he will never be a huge goal scorer; he just doesn’t have the personality for it.

In the other Arsenal news, Wenger is making noise about players leaving for more money. You’re all probably tired of hearing this but, Arsenal have a strict wage bill policy (with only Cesc and Gallas making more than £50k/wk)and Wenger is NOT going to break that up. Wenger has stated that if he gives Flamini a bunch of money then he has to start re-negotiating contracts with everyone and before you know it, Arsenal are burdened with an untenable payroll. I guess that makes a certain sense.

But Flamini raises an interesting point: Arsenal are linked to Gareth Barry, right? He’s valued at £15m, right? He currently earns £42k/wk and any transfer would see him get a raise, right? So, let’s say Arsenal lets Flamini go and then buys Barry to replace him. They sign Barry to a 5 year deal and pay him £50k/wk. After you add everything up and divide it all up (£15m/5 years/52 weeks) Barry’s total cost is £107,000/wk.

Seems kinda silly not to pay Flamini £60-70/wk doesn’t it? I understand that that would mean you’re breaking the pay scale but you’re breaking the pay scale to save money. Yes, you will have to explain to the younger players that there was this “one off” pay discrepancy but that’s your job! Alternately, if you want to keep the pay scale, then why not a “signing bonus?” Isn’t there some creative way for Arsenal to get the player what he wants?

I suspect they could but that Wenger doesn’t rate Flamini any higher than what he’s offered him. That may be the sad truth of all this. That no matter how highly I think of Flamini, he’s not as good as I’d like to believe. In fact, I was watching Juventus and Sissoko currently holds the spot that Flamini claims at Arsenal and honestly? I can’t see Flamini breaking into the starting lineup there, not unless they are going to radically re-tool that team. Flamini has to know that he will be riding the pine in Italy. So, this is about the money — which Wenger eruditely points out:

There is something in this team which is stronger than a few bucks here and there. What is really important is that this team says ‘lets go to the end of our potential together and not walk out for any simpler reason’ – and that is where I expect them to show strength, and care what they can achieve together… Flamini can earn more somewhere else that is for sure because it would be a free transfer – but how much is he ready to sacrifice to stay here?

We’ll find out in just three days but I suspect Flamini’s answer to that question is “not much.”

Until tomorrow.

P.S. I really don’t know what the big deal is with Gareth Barry, so far he’s been decent but the way the press make him out, he’s the greatest holding midfielder in the history of England.  He doesn’t even play holding midfielder for Villa, Petrov does.  I don’t get it…

25
Apr
08

You’re making him mad, you don’t want to make Gallas mad.

It looks like it’s going to be all rumors, innuendo, and recrimination until August.

First, Captain Gallas has had a go at the press:

They (the media) can say what they want…they will not bring me down, I’m stronger than that. It makes me mad because I don’t think (what happened in Birmingham) was our problem. How can you summarise our season with that thing at Birmingham? That is not why we stopped winning matches.

Good for him. I might disagree with the man occasionally (often) but I think parts of what he’s saying here are right on. The first part about the press saying what they want? Right on the nose. The second part about making him mad? Again, right on! The third part about Martin Taylor’s vicious mauling of Eduardo and Gallas’ subsequent emotional reaction are not what caused Arsenal to start losing matches? Hmmmm…

Look, William, Bill, can I call you Bill? good. Look, Billy, one of the hallmarks of a good leader is the ability to admit it when you are wrong. You say, “I’m sorry” shake hands and try to work on it so that you never do that sort of thing again.

If you look seriously at the last 2 months and cannot see the effect that your petulant display at Birmingham had on the team — specifically the defense which went to tatters after that match, doubling the goals allowed numbers — then I really don’t know what to say to you other than “bon voyage.” The captain of the team, who captains both the team and his defensive squad — where he plays — went to pieces at the same time that the defense went to pieces and you seriously can’t see that people would make that connection?

Bon voyage.

Admitting that you were wrong means that you are willing to learn from your mistakes and make yourself into a better player and a better captain. When you were winning you were a great captain but the measure of a man is not in the high times but in the low. And at Arsenal’s lowest moment, you reverted back to the old Willy; petty, petulant, pompous, and prevaricative. Or what I call “The 4 P’s of Bad Management.”

Speaking of Arsenal captains who practiced the 4 P’s of Bad Management: the press are linking Henry with Arsenal because he said that he “only has Arsenal in his heart” or something.

Let me be very clear (ahem): Thierry Henry is not walking through that door, folks… and if he does he will be old and gray.

Henry is not going back to Arsenal because Wenger has a strict policy against taking back former players as he reminded us all in January when Anelka was again linked to Arsenal.

Nicolas wanted to come back here and I considered buying him because he wanted to put things right, but we have a strict policy that once a player has gone we have to accept it

The “Thierry to Arsenal” stories are worth less than an American Dollar, case closed.

On the injury front, apparently Arsenal will be playing the U-18s on Monday instead of the first team.  Arsene has committed himself to resting players who are set to play in Euro 2008 (Fabregas, Bendtner, van Persie, Gallas, and Clichy) plus Arsenal are missing Hleb, Diaby, Rosicky, Djourou, Sagna, Flamini, and Eduardo due to injury or suspension. So many people are injured I seriously can’t keep track. I need a “who’s injured for Arsenal” widget on the blog so I can keep a running list. I’ll get right on it.

Oh yeah, I told my friend John that the Arsenal game is on Sunday, it’s not, it’s a Monday game, noon kickoff local time. The match is against Derby who are playing for Pride (pun intended) and I don’t think it will be a 6-0 thrashing if everyone is resting. It could be a good match.

Lastly, the Arsenal Women have won the league after a 4-1 come from behind lashing of the Chelsea women. This is the Arsenal women’s fifth consecutive league title. Impressive.

Coaching the Women’s team, Vic Akers has now won 10 league titles, 8 FA cups, and 9 League cups. My GF and I are having a little girl in May and I can only hope that she would one day want to play for a team with that kind of pedigree.

See you tomorrow!

Update: there’s a report coming out of Italy that Juventus is NOT signing Flamini but that AC Milan is… for 4m Euro, which is less than he is reportedly offered from Arsenal. I think this is just further proof that you cannot trust anything you read in the paper.

T-minus 5 days for him to sign with Arsenal.

24
Apr
08

Money money money money (money)

This transfer season is already set to give me a huge headache but I think I’ve found a coping mechanism. I’m calling it the Rick Pitino coping mechanism.  When Rick was coach of the Celtics, the fans were all over him to buy a bunch of players so they could get back to winning ways.  One day, at a press conference, he broke down and in an attempt to protect his players made his famous “Larry Bird is not walking through that door” proclamation.

Well, to paraphrase Rick: “Thierry Henry is not walking through that door fans, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires are not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door? They’re going to be gray and old.”   After this morning’s spate of telling newspaper articles I feel very strongly that Arsenal are preparing the supporters for an off season with no big signings. So, for my money you can add to that above list Quaresma, Ben Arfa, and anyone else that’s linked to the club.

First, there’s the “I want to keep the club together” thing that Arsene keeps saying as if it’s a mantra to ward off evil spirits. Of course ‘footballistically’ you want to keep a solid team together. Any professional sports team that I have ever followed that broke off even one key player immediately went into what we Americans refer to as “the holding pattern.”

The Seattle SuperSonics spring to mind. One year they are good enough to make it to the NBA finals and take the Chicago Bulls to 6 games and the next year they sign Jim MacIlvaine to a big contract, which causes turmoil on the team, Shawn Kemp leaves, and the team is left with no one but Gary Payton and a few role players. Sure, they make the playoffs, but they never go very far and can never manage to piece together a winning team. That’s the holding pattern: your team is stuck in 4th place until one day, the star gets sick and tired of being on a 4th place team and leaves —  then you’re left with a team rebuilding from scratch. So, from that perspective you definitely want to keep the team together.

But from a money perspective too, you can’t always be transferring players in and out, and no more so than this season. See, if Hleb and Flamini leave, the transfer fee will be only a portion of what they are worth due to the “Webster Clause.” I’ve tried to explain this “Webster Clause/Article 17” thing before and let me try again: basically, Arsenal would get a transfer fee equal to each player’s salary (for the remainder of their contract) plus a prorated amount based on their original transfer fee, unless the transfer fee has amortized to zero. There are some other rules, such as the club’s ability to dispute the amount that the player is worth, but what I said above is pretty much the long and short of it. That means that Hleb could leave for as little as £8m and Flamini could leave for almost nothing. On the open market Hleb and Flamini would be worth at least £20m. So to replace them is (in the simplest terms) going to cost Arsenal at least £12m out of pocket. And that’s a serious problem if Arsenal’s transfer kitty is as small as some people are reporting.

So, yes, Wenger wants to keep this team together because of team chemistry or adapting to English football or fitting into Arsenal’s system but he also cannot afford (literally) to lose players on what is essentially a free transfer. Every one of those players he loses represent players he must buy just to keep the squad at its current strength, never mind improving the team.

Second, I’m starting to see a bunch of “There’s not as much money as people think” articles. The most dubious of these articles claims that the Arsenal Supporters Trust has discovered that Wenger will have as little as £25m this summer to sign players. I can find no such news release on the AST web site so I report this “news” with reservations. But I am passing it on because there are quotes from the boss that indicate that the piggy bank doesn’t have as much money in it as we all were told. Remember the £70m number? Arsene poo poo’s that number

There is money there [for transfers], but not as much as I read in the newspapers, because that is not true… It is not as simple as it looks when you read there is so much money available to buy players – that transfer budget also includes the improvement of the wages.

There you have it, two definitive statements from Arsene Wenger himself that there isn’t some £70m war chest lying around that he can crack open to buy Lionel Messi or whomever fans think Arsenal ought to buy. How much money is there? I don’t know. But I do know a “leak” when I see one and this is a leak to the fans that they need to be less optimistic about signing some really big names this summer.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal only have the money to buy replacements for Hleb and Flamini and neither should you.  Lionel Messi is not walking through that door, folks.




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