Gabriel, work permits + Arsecast 337

Arsecast - the Arsenal podcast

Morning all.

The manager’s press conference took place yesterday, a day earlier than usual, so we have some stuff to get through this morning. First up that potential deal with Villarreal for Gabriel, and Arsene admitted that talks were ‘progressing’ between the two clubs saying “There is a chance” that we might sign him.

There was none of the ‘Look errr … if we sign somebody you will be the first to know” or “I do not know him” or “No, we are not in for him” stuff that he usually comes out with regarding players we’re about to sign. To me that speaks volumes about how confident we are of doing the deal with the Spanish club, the rest then is up to the home office as we seek a work permit.

And on that he had plenty to say, suggesting the rules precluded a move for a 17 year old Angel di Maria as we wouldn’t have been given a permit for him (although we did manage to get them for Alex Song, Ryo Miyaichi and Denilson, so it’s not as if it’s been a completely closed system). But Wenger’s main point was:

Ideally it would open completely and anyone can come in.

Ideally, but ideally doesn’t just mean that it would be a good thing for clubs to bring in the best players from everywhere in the world. It would mean that all football clubs acted in a way that was beyond reproach, with integrity and honesty, and always working in the best interests of the players they bring in.

Exactly!

When you look at the way some clubs already stockpile players and loan them out you can see easily how they would be able to take advantage of things if they could snap up bargains from around the world. While we’d like to think Arsenal would act in a responsible way (and I’m saying only that we’d like to think that), wouldn’t it make the scatter-gun approach to youth development the norm?

Why invest in a young local player when you can buy 5 cheap imports for the price of his education and salary? If one of them pays off job done, you might make a few bob off the others but they’ll be left to fend for themselves because they’re not up to it. It doesn’t take much to see how a 100% open system would be completely exploited by football clubs and football itself.

It’s gone beyond sport now, it’s big business and with that comes a ruthlessness that perhaps we can’t really identify with but there are already many casualties as young players from certain areas are snapped up by agents, brought to clubs and, essentially, left to sink or swim. For the ones that make it, it’s a chance for a kind of life they could never have at home, but how many fall by the wayside and are set adrift with no care or thought? Where do they end up?

There are European Union rules re: freedom of movement and work which preclude any kind of system which denies them that right, but outside that I think there’s a good reason to have some constraint over where you can buy players from.

The new system proposed by the FA which automatically grants a work permit to any player costing £10m+ seems flawed too. Wenger is right in that price is not always an indication of talent, that’s true for even the most established professionals, but the idea is to stop cheap imports blocking the progress of young local players.

That’s one way of doing it, but maybe there should be more focus on how to improve the standards of young local players in general. It feels a bit like record companies bemoaning and trying to stop downloads rather than figuring out a way to exist in a changed world.

Anyway, yesterday Wenger spoke publicly about the valuation of Gabriel – around £15m – and even if we don’t pay exactly that I’m sure it was part and parcel of showing that this transfer would go through under the new rules that come into play in the summer. If we can convince them of his ‘special talent’ then all the better (and I’d suggest the tackle on Ronaldo at 1’22 in this video is good enough to do that).

Elsewhere, some nice stuff on Santi Cazorla from the manager, including a lovely little anecdote from the Spaniard himself about that free kick in the FA Cup final. And the manager is ‘confident’ that Francis Coquelin will sign the new deal on offer to him.

Time for this week’s Arsecast and to pore over the week that was in the wake of Man City I’m joined by Amy Lawrence. Up for discussion the effects of that result and performance, whether or not the team have broken a kind of psychological barrier, some transfer chatter, Mesut Ozil and loads more – not to mention all the usual waffle.

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Righto, there’ll be bits and pieces throughout the day here and over on Arseblog News. In the meantime, have a good Friday.