Sunday, December 4, 2022

Barça still won’t pay for Cesc + Usmanov ups stake

You know those people who, some time in March, get a little newspaper piece about them? The ones who live somewhere by the sea, or up a mountain, and say they can predict the long-term weather because of the amount of moss on the trees or the number of donkeys that are born that year or by the amount of pus that oozes from their canker sores?

Well, I’m pretty sure I read about five of those pieces this year all of them saying we were going to have a good summer, so I think, as they have deceived us all, they ought to be put in prison for life. And the newspaper editors who, in 2011, publish stories like that from men who haven’t got a clue, life sentences too. As for me, for reading it and vaguely hoping these grizzled old charlatans might just know what they’re on about, The Asylum of Intense Stupidity.

Mid-June and it’s greyer than Ravanelli’s pubes and wet enough for the very holy to start thinking about Arks. And today is the longest day of the year so we get extra wetness and extra pubes. Joy.

Some reasonably good news to start you off this morning. Sandra’s been talking again and he’s playing hardball over Cesc. Basically he’s saying Arsenal accept what’s on offer or Cesc will stay put. Speaking to Catalan TV, he said:

I don’t know if Cesc will sign or not. We’ll offer less than €40m and if Arsenal don’t agee, then Cesc will not come. We have €45m for signings, plus money from sales. There is no more money.

Which is good news for us, let’s face it. If reports are to be believed it seems as if they’re going for Alexis Sanchez from Udinese, which will cost them an estimated €30m of their €45m. That’s a rather significant chunk of their transfer budget and once again, as they did with Villa last summer, they’re making it fairly clear that Cesc is not their number 1 target, he’s not their priority.

If he were they’d bid for him first, simple as that. And as I keep saying, they’d also make a bid which is closer to his actual value rather than the one they’ve simply invented for him. One small clarification to what’s being reported this morning – there are quotes from Rosell saying Cesc is ‘doing all he can’ to come to Barcelona. He didn’t say that. He said Cesc has a ‘great desire’ to come to Barcelona, but aside from that, it’s not up to Cesc. It’s never been up to Cesc.

It comes down to whether Barcelona want him enough to match Arsenal’s valuation of the player and at the moment it seems fairly obvious that they don’t. They keep going public, they keep repeating this as if the more they say it the greater the possibility we might change our minds. And rather dismissively, he says:

Pep knows that Cesc is not worth €40m.

Well, here’s the thing. He is. And more. So, we’re back to the point we’ve arrived at a number of times already this summer. Cough up or cock off. Either pay what he’s worth – what we decide he’s worth, based on all the factors and not just Barcelona’s idealistic ‘He used to play for us as a kid so we shouldn’t have to pay so much for him’ nonsense – or just stop talking about it and move on.

If they were trying to sign a player of Cesc’s quality, with no Barcelona history, no background etc, you can be quite sure they’d be prepared to pay what it takes. Where he came from, where he grew up, none of it is relevant in a football sense. CUoCO.

In other news Roma are flying in for talks regarding Gael Clichy, says The Mirror. Arsenal are quoting a price of £10m which, I assume, is just the starting point for negotiations and one which I reckon we’d come down from quite a bit. There are whispers that a deal has already been done but we’ll have to wait and see what happens there and what his sale means to Arsenal.

I know that last summer Clichy was very close to the exit door with Arsene seemingly willing to let Kieran Gibbs take his place. Whether that remains the case I do not know but I suspect that Gibbs’ injury concerns, and stunted development because of that, means that we’ll spend to replace him. Newcastle’s Jose Enrique is in a similar position to Clichy, with just one year left on his contract, so would be available at an Arsenal friendly price. Maybe we could get him as part of the Barton deal! Ugh.

That’s as far as it goes with on-pitch matters. Off it, Alisher Usmanov has upped his stake in the club from 28% to 29%, which means the two main shareholders now own 96% of the club. So much for our plurality of ownership.

From the sidelines Usmanov is in a position where he can say all the right things, say what fans want to hear, safe in the knowledge that as long as Stan Kroenke owns 66%+ then hot air is all it is. That said, the board haven’t half made it easy for him in recent times. Increased prices for season tickets and memberships on the back of consistent failure on the pitch have created an atmosphere of frustration and impatience. Any smart man can take advantage of that, and Usmanov is certainly a smart man.

Where the current board can fight back, so to speak, is by showing supporters they’re ready and willing to address the problems that the team has. They have to show they’ll invest properly in the squad and that while spending what we have and not getting ourselves into debt (the same kind of debt we scoff at Barcelona for) is a sensible and realistic model, one which I support, unnecessary parsimony is self-defeating at this stage. Sometimes you do need to speculate to accumulate. It’s over to them now.

Right, that’s that. I’m off to enjoy the mid-summer drizzle. Have a good one.

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