Moving swiftly on from this weekend and we’re now faced with that thing that football fans hate more than anything else in the world – having to have a bit of patience. With Euro 2012 on the horizon we may find that the business we need to do isn’t done as quickly as we would like.
That said, being Arsenal fans, we should be well and truly used to that, but we are also slaves to the market. Both in terms of players we want to bring in and players we want to sell. There are those who will suggest that we should do our buying as quickly as we can, to avoid the mistakes of last summer and to have a settled squad as early as possible in the season.
I have to say I’d lean towards that very much. You would hope the manager and his staff have identified where we need to strengthen and chosen their targets to do that. The sooner we can integrate new players the better we’ll be. Another repeat of last August’s deadline day shopping spree really isn’t in the best interests of the club or indeed the players we bring in.
However, there are those who will suggest that by bringing in players early we weaken our hand when it comes to those we want to move on. Squad restrictions and over-crowding in certain positions mean we may not achieve market value for some of them, as other clubs know we’ll have to sell. Which makes some kind of sense but, frankly, this is a summer in which we need to be ruthless from a footballing point of view even if it means taking something of a hit from a financial one.
There are players at the club now whose contribution has been so minimal that their transfer value is almost neglible anyway. What kind of transfer fee can we expect to get for Park, Squillaci or Chamakh, for example? With France the likely destination for all three, and mid-level clubs at best, we’ll have to take what’s on offer even if that amounts to very little.
Those returning from loan spells might provide more income. Nicklas Bendtner, provided he’s not had curare darts shot into his neck by a mysterious fakir while out doing shots of Goldschläger, comes off the back of a season at Sunderland where he was their top scorer and has the shop window of the Euros to help him. Carlos Vela scored 12 times for Real Socieded and is interesting a range of Spanish clubs, while Andrei Arshavin, linked with Fulham, is still enough of a name to command a fee if/when we decide to move him on.
Henri Lansbury, if not given a chance with us, is young enough and English enough to draw a decent fee while Spain looks likely to be the new home of Denilson when his loan spell in Brazil comes to an end. Yet for all these deals to go through we’re at the mercy of other clubs, and whether we like it or not, many of them are struggling financially. As the petro-cash continues to skew transfer fees and wage demands, clubs are fighting to survive and that’s something we, as a selling club, will have to deal with.
There’s also the challenge that comes with selling players from a club that has been in the Champions League every season to clubs whose ambition might be just to survive in the league they’re in. Players grow used to a certain lifestyle and having been well rewarded at Arsenal by a wage scheme we’re all well aware of, it may require something of a change of mindset from some of them. Do they want to play football or do they want to maintain their wage level? The hardest part may be convincing some that the two are mutually exclusive.
So, I suspect that, more than bringing players in, is going to provide those who deal with transfers the most work this summer. However, as we look at the financial side of game and accept that clubs are hardly awash with cash, doesn’t that also mean that we, as a club with resources at our disposal, can take advantage of that? If others will take advantage of our need to sell players (for reasons outlined above), shouldn’t we take advantage of their need to boost income in the most traditional way?
There has been a perception that we’ve lacked a measure of ruthlessness in our transfer dealings in recent years. Which is because I think we’ve lacked a measure of ruthlessness in our transfer dealings in recent years. I don’t have the info to hand but I’d love to see how many late deals we’ve done in comparison to other clubs, and there can be no question whatsoever that we have allowed ourselves to become embroiled in sagas which drag on far too long.
If Thierry Henry to Barcelona was speedy due to its vague unexpectedness, the club reacted almost immediately by signing Eduardo. Yet Na$ri, Cesc, Ashley Cole and others have dragged on all summer long and were resolved in a way that was ultimately damaging (although finishing higher this season despite losing the former two isn’t lost on me). We cannot allow that to happen again with Robin van Persie.
Martin Keown has suggested we need to give him and the club time, which is understandable. It’s still only May and there’s little to be done at this stage and the Euros will complicate things further. Yet we cannot get to August without a resolution of some kind. If he decides he wants to go, sell him quickly and buy a replacement. If he’s staying, let’s sort that too so the club is not disrupted by the drama that accompanies the indecision.
And that’s at the heart of the matter, and all the business we end up doing this summer, the priority has to be the club. Not the welfare of the players, they’ll be fine one way or another. I like that we, as a club, care about our players and try and do right by them, but the club comes first. Always. And if that’s our mindset this summer, combined with a real desire to use our resources the maximum, then I hope the playing squad come the first game of the season, is settled, even if there are still some biting their nails about where they might be going.
Right, that’s that. The sun is shining here. Not sure how long it’s going to last. I’m going to frolic in the garden like a spring lamb.