Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Barcelona’s improved offer still nowhere near enough

Last night I dreamt I was drinking all night in a strange old hotel. Pints of Armagnac and other things and when the alarm went off this morning I braced myself for inevitable and no doubt painful *boilk*.

Which never came! That’s awesome. It’s like when you wake up and go ‘Oh, it’s Thursday’ and then you realise it’s actually Saturday. Of course, when you’re already dressed and out the door for school, as happened to me one day, it takes a little bit of the goodness out of it but still. It’s better than when you think ‘Hurrah, it’s Friday!’, only to discover it’s Wednesday, which is the more usual situation. So that’s a decent start to the day.

Unlike the back of The Mirror which suggests we could lose both Cesc and Samir Nasri this week. They say that Barcelona have returned with an improved bid of £34m. El Mundo says that Barcelona’s bid is €35m + “variables”. Sport say Cesc is house hunting in Barcelona. I say, fuck £34m and fuck their €35m + variables.

The Catalan press say that Barcelona consider this a perfectly acceptable price to pay for a player when there’s no auction, i.e. there are no other clubs after him. As has been pointed out before, and has been again by Arse2Mouse, that didn’t stop Real Madrid paying £80m for Cristiano Ronaldo. That’s the precedent here, not what Barcelona consider acceptable.

I do feel for Ivan Gazidis a bit, it’s certainly more difficult in this situation when there’s only one club bidding and the player would only go to that one club, but the fact remains that Barcelona are woefully under-valuing Cesc Fabregas. They insist in today’s reports that they will never go past the €40m bid they made last year, Sandro Rosell simply won’t allow it. In which case I would hope that leaves them disappointed.

As I’ve said, I understand this is a new regime at Barcelona, one which is determined to try and put the club back on a more even footing financially, eschewing the madness of the Laporta years, but that still doesn’t alter the fact that if they want one of the best players in the world then they have to pay an appopriate price. Offering us £1m less than Liverpool paid for Andy Carroll does not come close, I’m afraid.

For me the bottom line is that £34m is not enough and Arsenal should not only reject that out of hand, they ought to send them an official rejection on headed paper saying just:

£34m? heh

They’ll understand, I’m sure, because it’s not as if they haven’t paid big, big money for players before. They know what it takes to buy a world class player who still has four years left on his contract. And that’s the Ace that Arsenal are holding. Aside from everything else we have a player under contract who we have no pressing financial need to sell. And there’s no good footballing reason to do it either.

In the ‘will he, won’t he?’ madness, and the plethora of ill-informed opinion pieces on how Arsenal should sweep the decks and start afresh, the point that you can’t simply sell a player like Cesc and go out a buy a new one is almost completely missed. He is absolutely crucial to the team, and the way we play, and at the moment we don’t have anyone in the squad who can take his place. It’s also hard to think of a realistic target to replace him, even if we did have the full fee to reinvest.

As for Nasri the talk of a £20m from Manchester United continues. I think this story began life in Sunday’s News of the World and it doesn’t seem to be going away. I’m still a bit dubious about it, to be honest. I’m suspicious that it’s a ploy to get Arsenal to up their offer to the player, threatening us with the possible departure to a bitter rival, but I have to say if United did come in with a £20m bid I’d be very, very tempted to take it.

For a player with 12 months left on his contract it’s a big offer and would still represent a £6.5m profit on what we paid Marseille for him three summers ago. And if Nasri wants to go there, then fine, that tells you as much as you need to know about him. He’ll become a vague pantomime villain, never important enough for us to be the real deal, and we’ll move on and bring someone else in to take his place.

As I said though, I’m not sure it’s realistic. Would Arsene’s pride allow him to sell a player to United, especially after he so categorically said he wouldn’t last month? It’s one thing selling an Adebayor to Man City, or Thierry Henry to a club abroad, but to sell Nasri to United would be too much, I think. Perhaps his pride would be put to one side if the offer were large enough but the whole thing smells fishy to me. And by fishy I mean agenty. And by agenty I mean as foul and fetid as the decomposing, maggot ridden anus of a 12 foot long cockroach which has been pissed on by a badger in renal failure.

What’s clear is that the deadline the club imposed on the Nasri situation is looming on the horizon. July 1st was the date set for a decision, one way or the other, and unless Nasri agrees to a new deal the club will actively try and move him on. Whether they have any success in that remains to be seen. And I’m biting my tongue a little bit over Nasri’s carry on this summer.

What’s interesting is that a key figure in the Cesc to Barcelona deal has also been co-opted by ‘team Nasri’ to ‘help’ with his contract negotiation. That key figure knows well that the idea of Arsenal losing both Cesc and Nasri in the one summer is going to be a hugely difficult one to sell, so, if Cesc to Barcelona is likely, then Arsenal will be forced to give Nasri more money.

It wouldn’t be in the least bit surprising if that person was feeding information to the press about United’s interest in Nasri. It’s not a case of the journalists making things up, they’re simply using the info that they’re being given. And you can make of that, and those tactics, what you will.

July 1st has become almost mythical as people are expecting an avalanche of business to be done that very day. The significance of it is that the transfer windows around Europe officially open, and with many clubs financial years beginning on that date, it means they are more open to doing business so fees etc are part of the new financial year. So while July 1st won’t necessarily see announcement after announcement, I expect things to get significantly busier from then on.

Finally for today, The Sun says Arsene is set to replace ‘misfit’ Manuel Almunia with Inter’s Emiliano Viviano. Check out the picture. They could be twins! Same long mournful face, same dead, slightly heroin addicted, eyes, don’t do it Arsene. Have you never learned to judge people by their appearance?! It’s how they look, not who they are inside or what they do, that counts.

And that’s that for this morning. I’m off to enjoy a wonderfully hangover free breakfast. Laters.

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