a very quick one today because there’s little going on, to be honest. Just down the road there’s all kinds of consternation as Gareth Bale has thrown a hissy fit over not being allowed to go to Real Madrid, a story made funnier by this line in the Guardian report:
Bale … feels that there comes a point when it is unfair to hold somebody to the terms of his contract. His deal has three years to run.
Oh, poor baby. He feels like the legal document he willingly signed shouldn’t apply to him any more because something nicer has come along. Human nature it might be, but that doesn’t garner much in the way of sympathy. I can’t remember who it was but I’m sure I remember one player, on more money per week than most of us earn in a year, complaining that his contract was tantamount to slavery. It’s a different world.
Still, that’s not the point I’m getting at here. Bale to Madrid is going to be a saga and, inevitably, there’ll be only one outcome. The player will get his way, Sp*rs will get a barrow-load of cash, and what’s really interesting, and hard to get your head around as an Arsenal fan, is that they seem to be spending it already.
Valencia announced last night that their star striker, Roberto Soldado, would be joining our North London rivals for a fee of €30m. Cor blimey, and all that. Selling one of your best players then actually going out and using that money to fill the gap, what are they thinking? That’s not how it’s done you stupid Sp*rses. You’re supposed to wait until there’s hardly any time to find anyone then go out and buy some bloke in a cheap motel in France.
I kid, obviously, but it’s hard to not to see the difference. To be fair, last season we bought Giroud and Podolski before selling the Dutch Skunk, and subsequently brought on El mejor Santi del mundo, but still. The lesson we learned last summer seems to have been forgotten this time around. The other thing to look at is the price. €30m. For a 28 year old who started at Real Madrid, didn’t make it, and knocked smaller clubs until moving to Valencia in 2010. That is the market value for a player like that, and let’s bear in mind Valencia are still a club with some serious financial issues to work through.
For me it puts the value Madrid placed on Higuain, 3 years younger, into perspective. And regardless of what people tell you about us choosing to go for Suarez instead of the Argentine, the reality is that we’re the ones who walked away from Real Madrid when they asked for more money. Pretty much everything was agreed, the player wanted to come, we’d been tracking him for months, but when they upped the price, we said adios.
Sometimes, when you really want something, you’ve got to pay a little bit more than you want to. You have to be a little more fluid. There are those who will say our refusal to countenance a bid above and beyond what we thought reasonable is good business. There are those who will say that our inability to negotiate or do deals at this level is now a serious problem. We’re like somebody who’s been invited to a very fancy dinner party – we’re desperate to eat lobster but because we’re unsure of the etiquette and how to eat it without getting shell all over our face, plump for a bit of filet mignon instead.
Arse2Mouse made an interesting point on Twitter yesterday about how in all other areas of the club we strive to have the best people. Medical, commercial, technical staff, groundsmen, photographers etc. Yet our negotiating teams seem to have problems time and time again in closing deals that look to be done and dusted. Why don’t we get better people for this kind of stuff? It’s a good question.
But that’s a point we could expand and then ask the same of the team itself. Why, when we have the resources available to us, isn’t our focus on making the team as strong as it can be? Have we lost sight of what it is a football club should be about? If you can get value or a bargain, that’s absolutely great and nobody can ever complain about that. But putting value first means you’re limiting yourself, hampering yourself, and I believe that’s what’s happened with Higuain.
He could have been in the squad weeks ago, so quite why we decided he wasn’t worth what Madrid wanted and the solution is to pursue a player who is more expensive and offers considerably less value from a financial point of view (due to his suspensions etc) is beyond me.
Still, it’s all part of the magic of an Arsenal summer. And the only way it could get more annoying is if the world installed a tannoy system and played Get Lucky on a 24 hour loop.