I woke up this morning thinking about our loan players for some reason. I can inform you that a Bendtner/Denilson hybrid is not the most pleasant image with which to bestir oneself first thing, but hey, it could be worse. And no, you don’t need me to give you an example.
I was looking back through some of the archives on Arseblog News, and the second story we ever published, back on June 2nd 2011, was one in which TGSTEL expressed his desire to leave the club, saying:
I have decided 100% that I must leave Arsenal. I’ve considered this for a long time and was quite clear when I arrived at my decision. It doesn’t feel particularly strange to not know what my future holds – I’m quite calm and confident that I’ll be fine at a new club.
I wonder, two years down the line, does it feel strange that a career that was promising, has hit the skids so badly. In summer 2011 he and his agentdad spoke all the time about how this club and that club fancied him, but all the pretty things passed him by and he ended up in Sunderland on deadline day. Last summer it was the same, he did quite well at the Euros, catching the eye with a couple of goals and some Paddy Power underpants, but still could find nobody to take him until the final day of August.
His sojourn at Juventus has been an abject failure because of injury and his lifestyle. Getting arrested for driving drunk the wrong way up a one way street must be something approaching rock bottom, and hopefully he’s learned from that. But what happens this summer? Will there be more talk of how he’s got his choice of clubs or a more desperate search for someone to take a punt on him?
I think two things need to happen. Firstly, he has to accept that his stock has fallen so low that in order to play for a club in the Champions League he’s going to have to drop down a level, or two, (footbalistically ©arsene and financially) and prove himself as a footballer again. And secondly, Arsenal need to make it as easy as possible for him to leave this summer. If we have ambitions of getting a fee for him, leave them to one side. Get him, and his wages, off the books, even if it means we let him go for free and give him a carriage clock stuffed with fifty pound notes to do it.
Then start a new page in the Big Book of How To Do Things at Arsenal titled ‘BENDTNER’, and underneath write ‘This must never happen again.’ It can be salutary lesson that rewarding potential is a fine idea in theory but in practice it’s counter-productive, especially with some modern footballers whose focus is on image and earnings rather than reaching their potential and actually achieving things in the game.
He’s a figure of fun, and in one sense it’s a bit of a shame, because underneath it there’s some talent. He scored nearly 50 goals for Arsenal, some of them very good goals indeed, and had a fine spell one season playing up front when you know who was injured yet again. I can understand his frustration at being played wide right, a position which really didn’t suit him, but his career hasn’t so much gone downhill since deciding to ‘leave’ Arsenal, but off a cliff.
For all his issues though, we have to take some responsibility for the fact it’s been impossible to move him and others, like Denilson, out on a permanent basis. Our generous wages have coincided with football clubs, for the most part, needing to tighten their belts, which is why players like Squillaci and Arshavin, quite rightly I should say, decided not to leave sooner. Why would anyone in their right mind go somewhere else and earn a fraction of what they were getting here?
Yet this summer, with contracts running closer to the end, we need to incentivise these guys out the door. All the way out the door too, not just on loan somewhere. Bendtner, Denilson, Chamakh, Park and Santos all have to go. With Squillaci and Arshavin out of contract (earning around £110,000 between them), adding those 5 players to the list would save us, at least, another £150,000 per week, a saving of around £14,000,000 per year.
While on paper they may nominally be listed as ‘assets’, the reality is they’re a drain, even if some of those wages were covered by the loan clubs. When we talk about the financial landscape of Arsenal changing because of new commercial deals, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that we can make some inroads into the problems that exist with how we spend money on wages. We can improve that. It might require us to take a hit in some cases, but it’s short-term pain for long-term gain and it’s our own fault anyway. Caveat emptor, innit.
It’s also worth bearing in mind Arsenal are not unique in having players whose contribution to the team doesn’t come close to what we’ve spent on them, but this is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed this summer.
Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Tim from Arse2Mouse to discuss the final day, that game at Newcastle, and how this summer might be the silliest of all silly seasons. There’s also some Arshavin and some stuff which didn’t make the cut over the course of the season.
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Have a good Friday, more tomorrow.