Vardy ‘delay’ about contract duration + Walcott’s right-side climbdown

Will he? Won’t he?

The Jamie Vardy Saga©® drags on. That’s right, a move none of us knew a thing about on Friday has now gone all the way until Tuesday without satisfactory resolution. It’s hardly even scratching the surface of the stuff we’ve gone through before. Waiting for players, waiting for agents, waiting for Arsenal, waiting for Godot and anyone else that might need to get involved.

I don’t know where this 11.30 deadline yesterday came from exactly. Whether it was one Arsenal put in place or timed because of England’s departure to the European Championships I’m not sure, but whatever the truth of it, Vardy didn’t let Arsenal know his decision and now Arsenal ‘fear’ that he will stay at Leicester.

Here’s the state of play as I understand it. Leicester have made Vardy a 4 year contract offer which gives him a big bump in wages. Not as much as he’d be paid at Arsenal, but still a large increase. The offer from Arsenal is not for 4 years, slightly less than that, and it seems as if this is the issue.

So, if he wants to stay at Leicester because of an issue of contract duration, what can we do about that? Given the financial offer from Arsenal is better than that of Leicester’s, there’s not likely to be any financial impact, so if that contract length is a genuine sticking point maybe we will have reached an impasse.

However, I think the offer he has at 29 years of age from Arsenal is very reasonable. The money is better, there’s all the stuff we’ve spoken about regarding the size/prestige of a club like Arsenal, and I find it hard to believe that this is a deal that would break down over something like this. Arsenal want Vardy, Vardy wants Arsenal, I’m still confident this will go through.

I suppose it’s worth pointing out that we are dealing with the same agents that represent Theo Walcott and to their credit they’ve been very good at getting the maximum for their client down the years. My suspicion is that this is them trying to squeeze every last bit out of this deal for a player who doesn’t have time on his side. This is his last chance to make a big move, and I reckon that’s all that’s going on here. Both sides are playing the game, and it’ll all be grand once they don’t push too far because we have been known to say ‘This is my ball, I’m going home’.

Meanwhile, both the Mirror and the Telegraph run with stories this morning about how Arsenal have given assurances to Theo Walcott over his future. Linked once again with a move to West Ham yesterday, since denied by one of the owner’s sons on Twitter (what a world we live in!), the 27 year old is apparently still part of Arsene Wenger’s plans for next season.

I did enjoy this bit in the Telegraph report:

Walcott, however, held talks with Wenger at the end of the season and  the pair have agreed that he will mainly compete for a place on the right – rather than as a central striker – next term. The 27-year-old had previously pushed for a chance to play regularly  through the middle, but now accepts he fits better into Wenger’s side out wide and wants to concentrate on trying to make the position his own.

Gotta love that. Player who has had 10 years to make that position his own, now wants more time to make that position his own. And let’s not forget, he couldn’t wait NOT to play there, talking time and again about how he viewed himself as a striker, not a winger.

November 2010: “For me personally, I’m a striker. Hopefully in the next couple of years you’ll see me up front, I’m looking forward to that.”

September 2012: “It is a case of having trust in me up front. I was signed as a striker and it is about time, I want to play up front. I have learnt my game on the wing.”

Learnt his game indeed. There was the contract saga which saw him enter the final 6 months of his deal, skirting with a Bosman before signing an extension in January 2013. One of the sticking points at that time was Walcott’s desire to be considered for a place up front. He denied it was about money. From a Guardian report at the time:

Walcott, who joined Arsenal from Southampton in January 2006, has also seemingly wrung footballing concessions out of Wenger. He has never made any secret of his desire to play as the central striker and Wenger has granted him his wish in recent weeks.

And then we get to:

September 2015: “I will be judged on the number of goals I score. You can play the best game in the world but if you don’t score it doesn’t mean anything. But I’m very confident I can do a job up front.”

Right, well on that basis it’ll be a pretty harsh judgement. So, here we have a man who has wanted to play as a striker since at least 2010, is now content to go back onto the right hand side – where he doesn’t want to play and has been vocal about that. That’s quite a climbdown.

I don’t doubt that he wants to stay at Arsenal, and why wouldn’t he? But if he’s accepted he’s not a striker, and the manager doesn’t want to pick him on the right – which has been the case for some time now – what is his role? Back-up? Perhaps. If that’s the case and he’s happy to accept that, then we trundle on with Walcott.

For me, as much as a striker is a priority this summer, so too is a player who can contribute and create from the wide positions. Someone who adds qualities we don’t have to the first team. If we sign that player, then Walcott’s bit-part role becomes even more so. What then?

I genuinely think the best thing for all concerned is to say ‘Hey, thanks for 10 years. We’ve had some … moments …’, and to start fresh on both sides. Walcott with a new team, Arsenal with the money he’d generate and a new player brought in with some of those funds.

I guess we’ll see how this one plays out. It’s going to be a busy summer in the transfer market, and once things really start moving we might see openings and opportunities that don’t appear obvious right now.

Finally, if you haven’t had a chance to listen to yesterday’s Arsecast Extra, James and I talk about about Jamie Vardy as you would expect. There’s other stuff in there too, including a shocking robbery at gunpoint and James running faster than a motorbike and a bullet.

Check it out on site here, via Acast or iTunes. Happy listening. More from me tomorrow.

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